Back to School Monday

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Hope everyone is doing as well as can be expected after enduring two category 5 hurricanes back to back. For the island to get back to some state of normal, we must all as individuals and institutions strive to put things back together - step by step.  Opening school is critical to getting that sense of security and normalcy back for all of us.  

This from Tommy Brunt, Board President:

"Getting the school opened and functional asap is one of the most important pieces of having a populated and functioning VI by year end."

Monday (9/25) will be our first day back.  Staff will report to school 45 after curfew lifts.  Students AND parents please report 2 hours after curfew lifts.  Everyone is to meet at that time under the solar awning.  Students will meet with their teachers and then proceed with their day, parents will have a brief meeting with school Administration.  VIMSIA Board memeber Lori Thompson, from Insight Psychology, will be available during this time if any one would like to have some time with her.

The school day will end at 3:30 until further notice.  No after school hours for PGIA study hall or BEC initially.  Of course there will be no bus service, so please be sure you, or someone authorized by you, picks up your child by 3:30.

Regular parking is available in the upper and lower lots.  Upper lot, you may have to walk through the basketball court to get to the awning.  IA House is off limits for a few days.  The shade cover over the IA driveway needs to be reinforced.

The campus has come a remarkable way since the devastation that began with Irma. Mr. Bornn has been in overdrive ensuring progress is made every day.  However, there are still repair efforts underway and quite a bit of debris and general mess still being cleaned up from the storms.  Students must wear close toed shoes!  They should also spray up with bug spray - we will have additional at school.  If you do NOT want your child sprayed with bug spray, be sure to let their teacher know that.  Bring their lunch as usual and please be sure they bring a full water bottle.  We have not had time to get the school water tested and do not want to risk it.  We will have bottled water available as well, but do please bring a full water bottle to start the day.  

PGIA students do not need to bring their laptops.  

See you Monday.  And so begins our trek up the hill as a functioning educational institution in the midst of a national disaster site - The Little School that Could!

Peace,

Peggy

Bracing for Another Hurricane Impact - Maria

Crown Weather image from Sunday 11:00am update.

Crown Weather image from Sunday 11:00am update.

With many of the storm tracks forecasting Maria to hit us as a Hurricane mid-week, we have opted to hold off of re-opening school until after Maria has passed and we can assess her impact.

Please everyone stay safe.  If any of our families feel that they do not have a safe place to ride out the potential impact of Maria, please contact Mr. Bornn at (340) 626-0047.

So Happy to See our Friends Safe!

VIMSIA staff met at school on Friday - it was great to see the reunions all around.  Everyone was so happy to see their friends, co-workers, students, teachers safe and sound.  #VIStrong

Anisley and Mr. Music - life is good and its the people in our lives that matter most.

Anisley and Mr. Music - life is good and its the people in our lives that matter most.

Karen and Ms. Pass - so happy to see each other after the hurricane.

Karen and Ms. Pass - so happy to see each other after the hurricane.

Doing our best to get things figured out.

Doing our best to get things figured out.

Admin meeting's new venue.

Admin meeting's new venue.

VIMSIA Post Irma Update

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VI Montessori school and Peter Gruber International Academy (VIMSIA) will reopen next week.

On Monday September 18th at 11:00am teachers will report for training on teaching in an environment with unusual stress factors such as we have gone through with hurricane Irma.

On Tuesday at 11:00am parents are invited to a meeting under the solar awning to discuss all aspects of the school in the post Irma environment. As many items as possible will be discussed relative to school practices and expectations relative to their students learning. The parent meeting is for all present students and others contemplating enrolling at VIMSIA. Insight psychology Services will be on hand both days for counseling Services.

Head of School, Michael Bornn anticipates students will attend classes on Wednesday September 20th with the day to begin at 10:45 assuming a curfew is still in place until 10:00am. 

Vimsia suffered some damage from hurricane Irma, but we have cleaned up and made repairs and other improvements are being made post Irma.

VImsia will continue to offer its two globally recognized curriculums of Montessori and International Baccalaureate from ages 2 to 12th grade.

Hurricane Irma Relief

VIMontessoriHurricaneIrmaRelief  Please share this funding site to help recover from Hurricane Irma.

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Wednesday September 6, 2017 our island took a direct hit from Category 5 Hurricane Irma and has been declared a national disaster. The aftermath of the storm is devastating to our school and our island. The island will be without power for months. The population of our Montessori and IB school is made of mainly rural middle income families.  Half of our students are provided financial aid in order to attend. Many of our families own and run their own small businesses. As our island attempts to rebuild, we will have families without power and many who have physically lost their homes or businesses.  It is essential that our school remain viable and continue to serve the island's youth as it has for the past 53 years.  Please share this funding site and consider making a donation to enable us to keep our doors open for education and our island's future.  

BLAST FROM THE PAST

As a new staff member, I am lucky to discover and learn about VIMSIA's rich history! Check out these wonderful photos from years past...

Ms. Shournagh McWeeney teaching a Primary class, circa 1970. Over 45 years later, her legacy as a key educator, leader, and friend of the VIMSIA family is stronger than ever.  

Ms. Shournagh McWeeney teaching a Primary class, circa 1970. Over 45 years later, her legacy as a key educator, leader, and friend of the VIMSIA family is stronger than ever.  


All School Group Photo, 2010. Taken at what is now our solar awning space, this shot includes VIMSIA's first high school graduate. Since then we have sent graduating classes of up to 17 students off to take on the world! Time flies when you're having fun!  

All School Group Photo, 2010. Taken at what is now our solar awning space, this shot includes VIMSIA's first high school graduate. Since then we have sent graduating classes of up to 17 students off to take on the world!

Time flies when you're having fun!  

Montessori Work At Its Beautiful Best

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I just had to share these images with our friends and families.  I wish you could have heard their conversation as the girls were talking about their work.

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Aaliyah is working with the metal insets.  Tracing the rectangle requires focus and concentration and helps to prepare her hand for writing by strengthening her finger muscles.  Anisley's hammering improves gross motor coordination, concentration and hand eye coordination.  The two girls working together in the class's courtyard area is conducive to collaboration and sharing. - Peace Education.

The essential thing is to arouse such an interest that it engages the child’s whole personality.
— Dr. Maria Montessori

First Day "Eclipses" All Expectations!

There was a buzz of energy surrounding campus on our first day of school - and not just from the excitement of being back!  Our PGIA students were all hyped up for their field trip to UVI, and those of us still on campus spent the afternoon gawking upward with our jaws dropped.  Experiencing the solar eclipse at VIMSIA and UVI was simply awesome!  We had so much help and support from UVI and Dr. David Morris.  We thank them so much for being instrumental in the great science that abounded yesterday surrounding the solar eclipse.

Photo of the eclipse taken at UVI field by PGIA 8th grade student Vidhika .

Photo of the eclipse taken at UVI field by PGIA 8th grade student Vidhika .

Our PGIA students all took a field trip to UVI to participate in the solar eclipse educational outreach presented by UVI.  The Upper Elementary students hit the soccer field with eclipse glasses provided by UVI and pinhole cameras that they made in class.  Lower Elementary student groups took turns poking out from under the solar awning to experience the image through their solar glasses.

This from Upper Elementary Teacher, Ms. Morrison to UVI's Dr. Morris:

WOW ! Wow! Wow!   Thank you, Dr. Morris,  that was just amazing!  We had the opportunity to have all of our 9 to 12 yr olds, most of the 6 to 9 yrs olds view with teacher's assistance and most of the school administration each took a gander skyward.  We also had many parents, as they arrived to pick up their children, take a look and even a few little ones under their parent's supervision.  I had to laugh at the number of folks who, when initially offered the glasses, said "ah no, its no big deal"  yet when encouraged, exclaimed how incredible it was.  For a point of reference our pick-up time is between 3:25 and roughly 3:45 so prime shock and awe window.   

Sooo.... saying thanks really doesn't seem to express how grateful we are to you for the glasses. Really!

Sincerely, Ms. Morrison


Look closely at the images of light on the sidewalk.  The trees over the sidewalk have created a "pinhole" camera to reflect the eclipsed sun on the path.  These were taken at about 3:35, so very near the maximum coverage that we experienced here in St. Thomas.

Welcome to our new teachers and staff!

The first day of school is approaching quickly, and we are almost ready to welcome your children back. You'll see some new faces on the VIMSIA campus this year, and we wanted to take a moment to introduce them to you.


Lucinda Prosterman, MYP and DP English

After twenty-four years teaching Language Arts at Heights High School in Wichita, Kansas, Ms. Prosterman retired from that position to join her husband in St. Thomas. The past two years she has been teaching English part time at Antilles.  She graduated from Wichita State University where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education and is certified as a Highly Qualified Teacher of English, Speech, and Theatre. Throughout her career, she has put her certifications to good use teaching a wide variety of courses and developing creative approaches to developing strong reading and writing skills.  


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Jess Di Francesco, Lower Elementary Directress 

Ms. Di Francesco comes from Connecticut and has worked in Montessori schools there for four years. After finishing training in Hartford in 2015, she led a lower elementary classroom at a public school in the same city. She is very excited to be here on the island and loves snorkeling and meeting sea creatures. 


Kate Ludick, Upper Elementary Directress

Ms. Ludick is from Novelty, Ohio. She graduated from Cleveland State University First College (a progressive education division of the University) with a degree in English Literature with some additional postgraduate English coursework from City College of New York. She has both Association Montessori Internationale Elementary (ages 6-12) and Adolescent (ages 12-18) diplomas. Kate has worked in Montessori and progressive education in a variety of roles for almost 20 years, living and working in Canada, USA, Spain, Ireland, and Indonesia. Special training includes “All Kinds of Minds” (Dr. Mel Levine) approach to learning differences, Montessori Model United Nations teacher training, Orton-Gillingham method for teaching reading, writing, and spelling from the Institute of Multi-Sensory Education, and the Green School Educator’s course from The Green School in Bali, Indonesia. She is a certified yoga teacher via the Cleveland Clinic School of Yoga. Kate loves reading, writing and the arts. She has been in sports her whole life – a gymnast in her early years and continuing on to play volleyball and row in college. She was the assistant coach at Cleveland State’s Division I cross country team, coached gymnastics and was the company and stage manager for Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theatre.


Kelsey Van Morrison, Spanish Infusion Teacher's Assistant

Ms. Van Morrison was born and raised in St. Thomas. She started her education with VIMSIA as a two year-old and proceeded to graduate in one of VIMSIA's first IB classes. She recently graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with BAs in Sociology/Anthropology, Politics and Government, as well as Women and Gender Studies. During her undergraduate years she was fortunate enough to further her passion for global cultures by studying in Bueno Aires, Argentina, Cuba, and Chicago where she worked with underrepresented social and political activists. Ms. Van Morrison is very excited to be working with a program that gave her so many incredible opportunities as a child. She plans to pursue a JD PHD in Sociology.


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Alayna Belshe, Spanish Infusion Teacher's Assistant

Ms. Belshe was born and raised on St. Thomas. She is joining our Spanish infusion team as an assistant in Ms. Morrison's classroom. She got her start speaking Spanish in Señor Araujo's classroom here at VIMSIA and is excited to be back on campus. Currently she is working on her Bachelor's in Communication at UVI.


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Maggie Guzman, Spanish Infusion Teacher's Assistant

Maggie is originally from Maine. She received her Bachelor's in Political Science and English from the University of Southern Maine in Portland. After college, Maggie spent several years traveling and teaching environmental education, farming and wilderness programs. She worked in Seattle, Utah, Upstate New York, Montana and various parts of Maine before finding a home here in the Virgin Islands. She also works part time taking care of the trails on Hassel Island.


Radames Ortiz, Spanish Infusion Teacher's Assistant

Mr. Ortiz joined VIMSIA in 2017/2018 as a Spanish Speaking Teacher's Assistant. He was born and raised in Puerto Rico. After high school, he received a baseball scholarship to go to college and holds a sports marketing and administration Bachelor's degree from Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD.  Radames has worked at a homeless shelter in Minneapolis, MN for the past five years. He is happy to be back home in the Caribbean where he can enjoy the beaches and the island beauty.  Of course, watching, playing and coaching baseball are still at the top of his hit parade.


Jezellia Sujanani, Spanish Infusion Teacher's Assistant

Ms. Jezellia is a native of St. Thomas who also lived in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica as a child. She is fluent in both English and Spanish and has a background in Communications, Accounting, and Health Sciences fields. Her love of the Spanish language and the Montessori style of teaching has led her to join the Spanish Infusion team. She is excited to have the opportunity to share her knowledge with the students of VIMSIA.  


Kara Ebe, Director of Admissions

Ms. Ebe has a Master's Degree in Teaching from Marian University and Bachelor's Degrees in International Business from the University of Missouri. She taught High School Math and has worked in higher education as both an Academic and Career Advisor. Ms. Ebe is originally from Arkansas, but she came to St. Thomas from Louisville, Kentucky where she worked in retail and supply chain management.  She is excited to be working in education again and looks forward to making a positive impact as a part of the VIMSIA family.    


When you see these new faces on campus, please take a moment and welcome them to the VIMSIA family!

VIMSIA Teachers Spotted in the Wild!

VIMSIA campus feels very lonely without our brilliant teachers around. We checked in on them and asked them...

...what are you doing this summer to improve your Growth Mindset?


Ms. Hannah Upp

I am deep in the midst of my AMI Primary Teacher Training at the Montessori Institute in Portland, Oregon. This is the third of 3 summers I have spent studying Montessori Theory and Practice with the phenomenal trainers Ginni Sackett and Sarah Werner Andrews. I have passed my Written Exams (over 6 hours of essay questions) and am now preparing for my Oral Exams next Friday and will hopefully graduate on July 15th and go on to represent VIMSIA at the Montessori International Congress in Prague, Czech Republic. Thank you all for your support and THANK YOU to VIMSIA for sponsoring me in this training! It’s a life-changing experience.
— Ms. Upp
Little chance to explore Oregon, in between study sessions! Here I am at Trillium Lake, with a stunning view of Mt. Hood.

Little chance to explore Oregon, in between study sessions! Here I am at Trillium Lake, with a stunning view of Mt. Hood.

UPDATE: Ms. Upp has since passed all of her exams and graduated!

At a reception honoring my trainer, Ginni Sackett, who just accepted a position as AMI's Pedagocial Director in Amsterdam!

At a reception honoring my trainer, Ginni Sackett, who just accepted a position as AMI's Pedagocial Director in Amsterdam!


Ms. Silva enjoys a final sunset along Hudson Bay.

Ms. Silva enjoys a final sunset along Hudson Bay.

Ms. Alex Silva

Ms. Silva is leading trips for National Geographic Student Expeditions again this summer, teaching students about wildlife conservation. She has just wrapped up her Northern Canadian Expedition in Churchill, the Polar Bear Capital of the World. You can read all about it on her blog.


Mr. and Ms. Elger

The Elger family is staying on island this summer and enjoying all there is to do in St. Thomas. However, we just took a jaunt to Puerto Rico for the weekend. We took the girls to El Yunque, and they LOVED it. We spent time eating local cuisine, shopping, seeing the sights, enjoying the hotel pool, and practicing our Spanish.
— Ms. Elizabeth Elger

Ms. Michele Weichman

I have been traveling in Europe for 3 weeks! I have visited Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Germany and the Czech Republic. I am currently in a small town called Cesky Krumlov which is west of Prague!
— Ms. Weichman

Ms. Gloria Zakers

My family is eligible to become Italian citizens via decent due to my grandparents being Italian citizens when my mother was born. Thus, my kids and I have been working for about two years on the application to become dual US/Italian citizens. We waited two years for an appointment at the Miami Italian consulate which we just had on June 28th. It was successful and we should be getting our citizenship approval in a couple months! Having dual citizenship entitles myself and my children to full US and European living! Not that we are leaving St. Thomas any time soon, but this is an opportunity that we did not want to pass up. We are now, even more than ever, international citizens. La dolce vita!
— Ms. Zakers

Ms. Caroline Morrison

Ms. Morrison took time to explore and kayak around the waterways of Cocoa Beach, Florida and Charlotte, North Carolina. She then hiked and swam in the 62 degree Tellico River in the mountains of east Tennessee, collecting all sorts of treasures and stories to share.


Thank you, VIMSIA teachers, for inspiring us all to keep growing and learning, even on summer break! We look forward to seeing you again and hearing about your adventures in person.