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.

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.

Coach Nurse wins again!

Congratulations from all of us at VIMSIA to our beloved "Coach Nurse," Shane DeGannes, on successfully completing the IAAF Level II Middle & Long Distance Coaching Course! This course is extremely difficult to pass, but Coach Nurse embodies VIMSIA's Growth Mindset, and so he worked unbelievably hard and passed with flying colors. Why would we expect anything different from our superstar Coach? Thank you Shane for once again being such a shining example to our students both over the academic year and during the summer!

Coach Nurse shares his experience below:

I would like to again thank the Virgin Islands Track & Field Federation for selecting myself to take the IAAF Level II Middle & Long Distance Coaching Course. And a thank you is in order for the IAAF RDC San Juan for accommodating this course. Jorge Richardson, IAAF Regional Director and Erick Padro, RDC Assist to Director, facilitated all aspects of the coaches’ stay on Puerto Rico. Oscar Gadea and Roy Thomas were our instructors for the nine days. These gentlemen did a great job in pulling the best out of the coaches in our learning process. Mr. Gadea delivered his topics with conviction. His vast experience as an instructor and coach showed brightly. Mr. Thomas did an excellent job in calming the coaches’ anxiety with real life situation experiences. 

Participants of the class were from the Bahamas, Anguilla, St. Vincent, Jamaica, Antigua, Dominica, Turks & Cacaos, Barbados and myself from the Virgin Islands. There were eleven students in total. Seven student passed and four students failed. It was a sad day seeing some of our fellow coaches fail but it made our accomplishments mean more. If this process was an easy task it would not have meant as much as it did. 

The Level II class was very demanding. It apparently was the first class of the new IAAF Coaches Certification system. Many topics were presented on a daily basis and it was very challenging comprehending so much information for the final exams. Although this course covered topics discussed in the Level I course, more in depth instruction was given regarding the actual training plan of the U16 athlete. Topics I found to be helpful regarding the middle and long distance events training process were, 

 Process of training
 Planning a Mesocycle
 Microcycle design
 General Endurance
 Speed Endurance
 Event Specific Endurance 

These topics, amongst many more, were the concepts I wanted to struggle with. I strived to understand them and want to excel in utilizing them in the annual planning of Middle and Long Distance runners here in the Virgin Islands. This learning process will not stop here. I will continue to struggle with these concepts from the Level II course and now put it into practice. 

-Shane DeGannes R.N.

See real results with your money!

VIMSIA gave me my work ethic, the determination to get where I want to be, and really taught me what it was like to be a student.
— C.J. Fahie, Indiana Tech, 2020

See real results with your money!

VI Montessori School & Peter Gruber International Academy (VIMSIA) is improving life in the Virgin Islands by raising the bar of education throughout the territory.
VIMSIA teaches two internationally recognized curriculums: the Montessori and International Baccalaureate curriculums. Our teachers have taught in over 70 countries. Our students have traveled to over 40 destinations during the past several years. Our students are accepted to the best colleges and universities in the United States and overseas. Our students are awarded substantial financial aid packages to enable them to attend their desired universities.

  • This year’s graduating class will pay on average only $9,000 to attend their choice of university.

  • Approximately 50% of VIMSIA graduates are the first generation in their families to attend university.

  • Over 45% of our students receive financial aid.

VIMSIA is truly making a difference in the quality of life in the V.I.
Join a winning team, make a difference, be a part of improving the Virgin Islands—make a donation to facilitate a student attending VIMSIA today.

Click here to donate!

JV Soccer Secures Triple Crown Victory!

VIMSIA’s Junior Varsity soccer team finalized the school’s “Triple Crown” sweep of the three IAA League titles last Friday! The Volts prevailed handily with a 3 to 1 win against the Antilles School JV team. Antilles and VIMSIA were tied at the end of the regular JV season.

The offense’s prowess, along with the defense’s determination, secured the victory for VIMSIA. Our entire team has trained so hard in practice and fought their way to the top.

We are so very delighted with our students who have proven that they excel not only in scientific, artistic, and humanitarian fields, but on the soccer field as well.

“I was so proud of the way the players worked together to make it happen. The sportsmanship and excellence of our team is a tribute to all the coaches, but particularly to Senor Araujo, who instilled a love of teamwork and fair play in all of them from a young age!” -Ms. Bump

Go Volts!

Experience Our End Session Presentations

We at VIMSIA recently celebrated another wonderful series of End Sessions with your students. We invite you to our virtual End Session Presentations by reading and viewing below!


What an amazing trip it was to the north country. From May 22nd until June 2nd 2017 a group of 8 students and 2 adults from the Peter Gruber International Academy's End Session program left the Caribbean island of St. Thomas on a 12 day adventure to experience the history, culture and environment of the Upper Midwest and boreal forest of the BWCAW (Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area). Students got a full taste of the region while experiencing Valleyfair, Lake Superior, Split Rock Lighthouse, North House Folk School, Grand Portage National Monument, the Boundary Waters Wilderness and a bit of consumerism at the Mall of America. Ms. Butler and I are so proud of each one of the students. Each of them met and overcame challenges as they traveled, camped, portaged, canoed, fished and experienced and entirely new environment. Well done!

DIY- Do It Yourself!

Throughout the DIY end session, the students made many items ranging from small decorative art pieces to large pieces of furniture.  The students used simple hand tools as well power tools for their wood projects. They completed projects for both their own use, as well as items that they provided for use around campus.

View our slideshow here!


Ms. Montgomery and I thoroughly enjoyed the three weeks we spent travelling with students to various historic locations and beautiful hiking destinations. As residents of the Virgin Islands, it is easy to get caught up in our lives and forget how amazing this place is! 

Ms. Monti and I are both island girls, but even though we grew up here, we found ourselves learning new things about our history and unique ecology on every trip we took! 

I look forward to creating more end sessions that teach students about our world while exploring our fabulous back yard!

You can view our presentation here.

~Melissa Bump


Our time at NASA was great. We watched an IMAX movie about Mars, sat in on the opening ceremony of the robotic mining competition where we heard from the NASA Director and former astronaut, walked through the space shuttle garden, and saw Atlantis. We also met a current astronaut, saw inside Kennedy, and took part in a shuttle simulation which definitely tested one's love of turbulence and sense of balance. We attended a college fair, talked with some robotic teams, and saw one team's robot have a very successful run in the competition.

We arrived in Orlando and hit the Mall of Americas for food and shopping. We then spent three hours at the Sky Zone for glow night. Everyone had a wonderful time at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. We visited Hogwarts, took risks and rode rides that were way outside of our comfort zones. As we were leaving the park, we were treated to a water show and fireworks. Lots and lots of walking but so worth it to hear the screams and laughter!

Thank you for sending your children on this adventure with me.


The main focus of this End Session was to provide students with an in-the-field experience of the natural history of the Galapagos Islands. Students had the opportunity to observe and reflect on the formation of oceanic islands through volcanic activity, as well as the unique biodiversity of the Galapagos through the process of adaptive evolution.  Prior to our 8-day guided trip in the Galapagos we spent two days in Quito and the surrounding area, where students were given the opportunity to explore the city and hike the world's second highest active volcano, Cotopaxi.


The focus of this End Session was to explore the unique island of Mauritius, off the east coast of Africa. This African nation has a diverse history of British, French, Portuguese, Indian and Asian roots.  This was a travel End Session that included experiencing the cultural offerings of the island, from “Surviving Forest” to a sacred Hindu temple to the ancient slave ruins of Le Morne Mountain to the city capital of Port-Louis.  Our premiere destination was Le Bocage IB International School where Mr. David Jenkins is Head of School!  Our students stayed with local host families and attend a few days of classes at Le Bocage.  The other days were filled with excursions all over the island and biodiversity research with Ms. Courtney Jenkins within the extensive natural environment of Mauritius.

Please view our end presentation here!


Our Virtual Tour of Japan explored many topics. Students learned different Japanese crafts, cooked various dishes, and learned about the social, political, and environmental issues occurring in Japan right now.

We'd love for you to watch our full final presentation here!

Congratulations to everyone on another successful and exciting round of End Sessions!

Congratulations to our New Middle Years Students!

VIMSIA is one of only 238 schools in the world that offer both the Middle Years and Diploma Programmes through the International Baccalaureate Organization. As such, it is quite an honor to annually advance our 6th year Montessori students into the Middle Years Programme.

The Middle Years Programme (MYP) is an international program for students aged 11 or 12 – 16 to develop the knowledge, understanding, attitudes and skills necessary to participate actively and responsibly in a changing world. The Middle Years program emphasizes the importance of a balanced curriculum and encourages authentic assessment, long-range tasks, and interdisciplinary units. Teachers develop units of study that focus on a unit question and can be applied across disciplines.

We marked this distinctive occasion with an enthusiastic ceremony in our Amphitheater. Ms. Kathy Schlesinger, our talented librarian was our keynote speaker, urging our graduates to “Read Irresponsibly.” Student graduate speakers Natalia F. and Destiny D. reflected on years of triumphs and trials. On behalf of their respective classes, they expressed heartfelt gratitude for their Montessori teachers, Mrs. McGonigal and Ms. Morrison, who in turn spoke of their pride for their students’ achievements.

Mr. Bornn, our fearless leader, and Ms. Bolinger, our mistress of ceremonies, then presented hard-earned diplomas to this year’s graduates. Delighted parents scooted to the front aisle to capture the prized exchange, and Mr. Elger enthusiastically welcomed the new 7th year students to the second half of their education at VIMSIA. Although there is always some sadness in seeing our children move up from the Montessori School, we take pride in the fact that it is the years of Montessori education that prepared them for all the wonderful challenges to come in MYP. We can't wait to see their accomplishments which are to come!

Sincere congratulations to all of our 2017 6th year graduates:

Saiid A.
Noah B.
Lindsay B.
Gabriella B.
Paschal B.
Nyala B.
Gabriel C.
Ronan D.
Destiny D.
Natalia F.
Christopher G.
Eli H.
Gabriel H.
Layla H.
Annabelle H.
Kai L.
Fairley M.
Ayele M.
Alexander P.
Lennon R.
Sy S.
Maia T.
James W.
Malcolm W.

Celebrate Summer: Nature IS Nurture


Happy Summer!

Montessori philosophy inspires care of the environment and careful stewardship of our earth. Dr. Montessori wrote, “Children have an anxious concern for living beings, and the satisfaction of this instinct fills them with delight. It is therefore easy to interest them in taking care of plants….”

Ms. Upp’s primary class took time out of their busy last day of school to search for VIMSIA’s new administrative hire, Ms. Julie. Their beloved classroom plant needed a plant-sitter for the summer, and Ms. Julie needed some company for her new office. The children gathered around Ms. Julie and presented her with her new charge. Ms. Upp assured Ms. Julie that the plant was hardy enough to thrive in any conditions. Even though Ms. Julie lacks a single green thumb, the prognosis is good.

As we say our temporary farewells to your children, we are wishing them the most fulfilling of summer breaks until we meet again. May summer be a wonderful opportunity for your families to reconnect with the beautiful flora and fauna that surrounds us on St. Thomas. True, summer is a little different for us in the Caribbean, resembling so closely the rest of the year. However, summer break worldwide remains a cherished time to celebrate family, nature, and a break from schooling.

We don’t have de four season dem,
Summer, Winter, Autumn an’ Spring,
but de dry season wid the noisy bees
an’ de shrill call o’ de cling-cling,
an’ de sun turnin’ de sea into a hot bath,
an’ de grass bake so dat it crackle like parchment
under yuh foot; when de beach dem crowded
wid folk cooling off; de season when mango is king.
— Valerie Bloom, Two Seasons

End Session: Mauritius Adventure Continues!

Dear MRU Families,

It's been a few days since we've written, but we've been so busy! Since we climbed Le Morne mountain, we attended classes at Le Bocage, worked on our presentation project, explored the Last Surviving Forest at Ferney Valley, went to the capital city of Port Louis and the marketplace, toured the sugar museum and learned about the history of the sugar industry, visited the tea factory, the vanilla factory and the rum factory, and ate amazing food the whole way!!

Now, this weekend was one for the students to just enjoy time with their host families and see what a weekend in their lives is like. The kids have been all over, from hotels, to petting farms to bowling alleys to the mall to beach houses, etc. We are so grateful for their hospitality!

Monday (tomorrow) will be our last full day, which we will spend at Le Bocage, finishing our project, attending classes and getting henna tattoos!

Tuesday we go to school in the morning, have lunch and then off to the airport for a 4pm flight to Dubai.

We are sad to see this experience come to a close, but what a fabulous trip it has been.

Here's some photos...enjoy!

I'll send more details soon.

Love from the Indian Ocean,
Ms. Z & Mr. E