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Eleuthera's Exceptional Education Outreach: Fall 2005 Update
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Posted by:Oct 10th 2005, 09:24:23 am
Fig Tree News TeamFor more information on Exceptional Education Outreach, please contact program director Lang Fincher at 242 333 2006 or 305 389 7485, e-mail

Exceptional Education Outreach
Harbour Island and Eleuthera, Bahamas
Fall 2005 Newsletter

A Teacher’s Perspective
By Gloria Banks
Looking back on my first year teaching for EEO, I remember getting off the plane and entering a small Eleuthera airport thinking" What have I gotten myself into”? My concerns were not so much how I would adjust to Bahamian culture, or being away from my family, it was simply "How can I best impact these children?” I came to the Bahamas with the idea that I wouldn't just teach the children with learning disabilities how to read, I would also teach them how to live beyond their disabilities. In my first year I was welcomed in to the schools and the communities and was given the support to ensure a successful year. I worked in the resource rooms in Gregory Town Primary and North Eleuthera Primary in Bluff. EEO allowed me to implement a methodology that I believed would not only revive the children's interest in learning, but also challenged them to reach beyond their current expectations. Through consistent work, and innovative ways to teach reading, we made small but important steps. As the students learned, they also taught me how to become a more effective teacher. As students tried to challenge them to dig deeper in order to conquer their challenges, they were also pushing me to dig deeper in order to reach them.

I realized that many students had been never given the opportunity to succeed and they often had lost hope...they had in essence learned to fail and were failing therefore to learn. It became important to me to find ways that I could increase their self esteem in order to increase their motivation. One way I focused on reaching them was through performance arts. I started an after-school dance and theater program. I thought that if I could show them that they could excel in other areas, they could apply their drive to excel academically. I felt that if they could learn, remember and be confident enough to perform complicated dance steps, they would surely build the confidences to learn phonics concepts like rhyming, vowel patterns and phonemic blends.

I only allowed students to be in the dance class if they keep their academics up. This method became quite successful in raising their self esteem; they enjoy the crowds clapping for them when they performed for their settlements and other communities. I believe that the indirect boost to their confidence helped them to open up to the possibility that they could also be good readers. In fact, by then of my first year, my student's test scores doubled, all went from non-readers to at least beginning readers. We mainstreamed those that made it up to their reading grade level. Though I was sad to see them go, I was so proud that 30% of my students were able to be mainstreamed back into the normal classrooms after only a year in the program.

Now that I am approaching the completion of my second year as an EEO teacher, I can finally answer the question I asked myself when I stepped off the plane for the first time 2 years ago….Whatever I have gotten myself into, I am glad that I did and I will continue to strive towards reaching these children one heart and one mind at a time.

Using Technology to Enhance Learning
By Susy Siel, visiting teacher and library media specialist in the Kenosha Unified School District (WI)
I have been visiting Eleuthera with my family for 35 years. I have many close lifelong friends here. In 2002 I began a professional journey that connected me with the Exceptional Education Outreach (EEO) program. As a Library Media Specialist and classroom teacher for 17 years in Wisconsin, I have had the opportunity to work with children with various skills and academic abilities. Working with the special needs children in EEO has been a natural extension for me.

Having visited the island for the last 2 years as a part of EEO ‘s continuing seminar series, I worked with EEO towards the goal of helping the regular ed teachers have access to innovative strategies to reach the children with learning challenges in the main streamed classroom. This year was different in that I came down for 2 months and acted as an itinerant teacher between several schools on Eleuthera and in Harbour Island.

We reached and motivated the children to read with special projects that were video conference. This was a first time experience for the students and it made a big impression on them. Our students wrote facts about Eleuthera and the Bahamas and involved poetry and singing in the development of their reading skills. They shared information via internet to students in Wisconsin. Internet is now set up on the majority of the EEO resource rooms and is being used as a teaching aid. Since each of the EEO resource rooms also act as a mini- library within the schools, I also helped develop North Eleuthera Primary’s library in Bluff.

The mission of EEO is being carried out by a small group of dedicated teachers and volunteers across Eleuthera. I have enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to the growth and success of this program. That is helping so many children to reach their potential.

Results of the Silent Auction and Fundraiser
This year we held another silent auction art and photography show which was a wonderful success in raising awareness and the much needed funds to maintain the progress of EEO. We are very grateful to all those that attended and participated in the evening. All of the costs for the evening were donated so %100 of the proceeds goes directly to the running of the EEO programs on Eleuthera and Harbour Island. One immediate benefit is being able to plan an increase in therapist visits for next school year. The children that need speech or occupational therapy will now be receiving it more than once a semester.

We are especially grateful for the generosity of the Rock House who hosted the elegant evening. The following artists and photographers generously donated their work:

Artists that contributed to Silent Auction:
Elizabeth Berry
Giles Bensimone
Ronnie Butler
Alban Christ
Jonty Davies
Arthur Elgort
Shari Erickson
Fabrizio Ferri
Ray Gaulthier
Oberto Gili
Marco Guerra
Pamela Hanson
Sally Hayes
John Huba
Pam Johnson
Thierry Lemare
Patricia Lusk
James Mc Grath
Raymond Meier
Tom Munro
Mary Peterson
Quince Quaintance
Joann Ritter
Graham Schearer
Carter Smith
Pam Thompson
Diego Uchitel
Steven Scott Young

In- Kind Contributions for the 2005 Spring Fundraiser:

Bristol Cellars
Conde Nast Traveller
Coral Sands Hotel
Daniels Family
Gold Aviation
Harl Taylor
Jane Fincher
Mario Leon
Mary Lou Designs
Ocean View
Ocean Drive Magazine
Princess Street Art Gallery
The Rock House
Run Away Hill
Sip Sip

EEO Eleuthera Seminar Schedule
2005-2006 School Year

September: Parent workshop held by Gloria Banks, EEO Special education teacher
Date and location TBD

November 11th: Reading Writing Seminar and follow up Saturday workshop given by Emily DeLiddo from Colombia University, New York City Reading Writing Program
Savannah Sound Resource Center Friday 1pm

November 18th : Special Education Seminar given by Dr. Marion Crayton, Speech pathologist and Department of Special Education Administrator, Prince George's County Public Schools, Maryland presenting “Multidisciplinary approaches to reaching students with different learning styles and needs”
Time and location TBD

January: Workshop Given Mrs. Gail Wisdom, Academia School, Nassau on ”How to Reach Struggling Students ”

February: Dr. Edwin Demeritte and Interdisciplinary Team of therapists from Nassau providing scheduled evaluations and follow up therapies and presenting strategies for parents with children with various neurological and speech impairments.
Date and Location:TBD

March: Sharon Clarke and Paula Bowleg, Speech therapists from Nassau will visit to follow up on evaluations given last year and provide strategies and evaluations to new children.

April: Occupational Therapist from Creative Children Organization, Miami will conduct evaluations and provide strategies for children with physical (gross motor and fine motor skill) challenges

May: Workshop given by Jodi Marshall from University of Miami Reading Department on “Increasing Vocabulary”
Location and Date TBD


"Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts."
- Albert Einstein

Overcoming Learning Challenges towards Greatness
Imagine if Thomas Edison never invented the light bulb, of if Alexander Graham Bell never invented the telephone. What do these two visionaries have in common? They were all born with learning disabilities. As you can see from the list below, some of the most revolutionary and far reaching inventions and culture luminaries come from people who see things a little differently then the rest.

Albert Einstein
Nelson Rockefeller
Thomas Edison
Winston Churchill
Leonardo da Vinci
John F. Kennedy
Whoppi Goldberg
Tom Cruise
Charles Schwab
Harry Belafonte
Danny Glover
Prince Charles
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Walt Disney
Robin Williams
Alexander Graham Bell
Magic Johnson

However, for every learning disabled person able to overcome their disability, many brilliant minds are frustrated and unable live up to their potential and contribute to their communities. These are the students that EEO aims to work with in Eleuthera. The students receiving help from the EEO programs have a range of exceptionalities including, but are not limited to mental handicaps, hearing deficiencies, attention deficit disorder, and developmental disorders.

Nearly 70% of the children we work with fall under a category of learning disability. A learning disability is defined as a child with average or above average intelligence that has a problem with processing information. There are many different types of challenges but they are able to be overcome with consistent intervention to help them reach their potential.

EEO newsletter

Speech Therapist and audiologist visits
Sharon Clarke and Paula Bowleg speech therapists and audiologists from Princess Margaret Hospital and Ministry of Education in Nassau took time from their busy schedules to visit Eleuthera this March. They came from Nassau equipped and ready for a full day of hearing and speech assessments. Their visits with the children were also paired with individualized meetings with the parents. They offered at home strategies that could be applied immediately and are following up with more detailed reports. EEO is arranging free transport for those children that need additional consistent therapy with Mrs. Clarke and Mrs. Bowleg. They worked hard and we are grateful for their dedication to children in the Family Islands.

Encouraging Children to Succeed
Parents are often baffled by the problems presented by a child with learning disabilities. Sometimes, disabilities do not become obvious until a child reaches school age. Even then, difficulties may be subtle.

To build your child’s confidence and ability to succeed try these approaches:

Star tips

Focus on the child's strengths, not the weaknesses.

Set reasonable expectations
Try not to expect more than the child is capable of doing, but expect the best that he or she can produce, with and then without assistance. This may mean that the child will have to be taught simple skills, and that complex tasks will need to be taught step by step.

Maintain consistent discipline
Give clear, simple explanations, particularly if children have language problems. They may not understand the vocabulary, lengthy instructions, and complex sentences used at home or in school.

Help children classify and categorize objects
many children naturally put groups of objects together because they are the same color or shape, or because of their use. If given blocks, toy cars, cups and saucers, they notice similarities and differences, a critical skill for all learning. However, some children with learning disabilities have problems with conceptualization and it is an important part of learning to focus on.

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