Ricky James Winner of 2019 Youth Role Model University Bound Program at UVI

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Well don't we just need some good news today? As you all knew from earlier in the year, Mr. Axel Bartsch, was the winner from our school as the 2019 Youth Role Model for the University Bound Program at UVI.  We are so proud of him!

The University Bound Program selected their own winner for the 2019 Youth Role Model Award and that young man is also a PGIA student.  Mr. Ricky James will also receive this award this spring!

VIMSIA creates great young people, and these students are fully deserving of this accolade.  Sharp, strong, reflective young men who have led by example in staying committed to academics and strong character.

Today is a proud day for VIMSIA.  Congrats Axel and Ricky!

Diego Zakers Accepted to Frontiers Program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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PGIA 11th grade student, Diego Zakers, has been accepted to the Frontiers Program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute this summer!  Diego will explore Interactive Media and Game Development as well as Entrepreneurship.  Congratulations Diego!  Stay tuned for more updates on where our students are heading this summer!  Please contact Ms. Ebe with any questions or to share details on your upcoming summer experience.   

Caroline Gaskin Accepted to Harvard University's Secondary School Program

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PGIA 11th grade student, Caroline Gaskin, has been accepted to Harvard University's Secondary School Program this summer!  Students get the opportunity to experience course work and life as a college student while developing independence and learning about the world around them.  Caroline's course options include Creative Writing, Biochemistry, Japanese and many more.  Congratulations Caroline!  Stay tuned for more updates on where our students are heading this summer!  Please contact Ms. Ebe with any questions or to share details on your upcoming summer experience.    

Mimi Presents at ASLO in San Juan

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This week PGIA 9th grader Mimi Boumedine, along with six other St. Thomas high school students, presented at the international ASLO (Association for the Sciences of Liminology and Oceanography) 2019 aquatic sciences meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Mimi shared her student team's research on fish preferences for natural vs. artificial coral reefs. She and her team built artificial reefs, then observed which fish preferred their reefs vs. the natural ones, categorizing by species and age. Their research was conducted this past summer with the Youth Ocean Explorers program at UVI. The presentation was given at a special high school poster session initiated and organized by none other than Dr. Michele Guannel, Assistant Professor of Biology with the Virgin Islands Institute for STEM Education Research and Practice at UVI.

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Mireille Boumedine Receives Honorable Mention

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Time to share some good news!  This fall Mireille “Mimi” Boumedine, 9th grader at Virgin Islands Montessori School & Peter Gruber International Academy (VIMSIA), applied for the Aspirations in Computing award sponsored by the National Center for Women & Information and Technology.  As a 9th grader, this was her first year of eligibility. There are two levels of the award, regional and national.  We still do not know about the regional results (for us that is the PR/USVI region), but the national award winners are now official.

There are usually approximately only 15 girls who achieve the national award recognition.  Mimi is not one of those this year. There are more 350 nationally who receive the honorable mention at the national level.  Most of them are not in 9th grade.  Mimi recently was notified that she received the national honorable mention award!

She is the first Virgin Islands student ever to receive any kind of national level award from the Aspirations in Computing program.  Congratulations Mimi!

Raffle Ticket High Sale Winners

Congratulations to this years top raffle ticket sellers, Michael Holt 64 books and Sarah Sables 42 books. Ms. Holt will receive $1,500 off of tuition next year and Ms. Sables will receive our second place prize, $650 off tuition! Congratulations to our top sellers and to all of our families. Your diligent efforts produced our best sales ever with 55,450.00 - 1109 books sold Our top raffle winners, 1st Place ticket #01734 and 2nd Place ticket # 08305 are both members of our VIMSIA family. Thank you very much for this record breaking support.

Sincerely,

Mary Capellas, Raffle Chairwoman

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Ricky James Participates in Envision Program

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This summer Ricky James, PGIA Senior, participated in three programs aimed to support and develop strong high school students.  Ricky participated in the Envision Program at Emory University.  Envision is a experiential education organization offering students the opportunity to explore their career and life interests.  His next stop was Boston University where he accepted the Boston Congressional Award.  Students work toward goals they set in the areas of Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration in order to receive the award.  Ricky's final stop was the Rutgers University Summer Business Program where he was able to network with business leaders from across the country.  Thank you for representing VIMSIA so well, Ricky!  We can't wait to see where you'll go next!  

Patricia Ludick to Visit VIMSIA

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Virgin Islands Montessori School & Peter Gruber International Academy (VIMSIA) is honored to welcome Patricia Ludick as guest speaker for the upcoming Elementary Parent Education night.

Patricia Ludick began the adolescent program at Hudson Montessori School in Hudson (OH) where she served as the program director and humanities guide for ten years. Pat has also accomplished a decade of extensive adolescent work at Ruffing Montessori East in Cleveland Heights (OH) and served as the founding directress of the adolescent program at the Montessori School of Raleigh in North Carolina. She is active in doing consultation work with new and existing Montessori programs, both private and public. Pat holds an AMI diploma, a certification in Special Education, as well as a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She was one of the planners and contributors in the early Montessori adolescent movement in the 1980’s and continues to serve the needs of new teachers, children, adolescents, and parents as the work progresses. She is an active presenter at NAMTA conferences, a contributor to the NAMTA Journal and guides teachers every summer at the AMI-NAMTA Orientation to Adolescent Studies. Pat is presently in her 32nd year of active Montessori education. She and her husband, Tom, are the parents of five grown children and have ten grandchildren.

Ludick will present a special presentation to VIMSIA parents on Thursday, August 30, 2018.

VIMSIA Teachers Attend San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research

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Alex Silva and Kate Ludick

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Alex Silva and Kate Ludick, talented educators at Virgin Islands Montessori School & Peter Gruber International Academy (VIMSIA), recently returned from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research Teacher Workshops in Conservation Science. Silva, a science teacher at VIMSIA, learned about the program from a graduate school classmate who attended the program last year. Between Silva’s science background and Ludick’s English skills, together they wrote an incredible application essay and both were accepted into the program.

The objectives for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research Teacher Workshops in Conservation Science are threefold:

1. Provide replicable, relevant, standards-based conservation science activities for formal and informal education settings

2. Connect science educators to wildlife conservation through relevant laboratory and field-based experiences that share recent advances in conservation research.

3. Provide a forum for science educators to network and share ideas for weaving conservation themes into their school community and engaging students in conservation.

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During the program, the group tracked desert tortoises, analyzed their habitat use, and discussed factors threatening their survival. While we may not have the same species on island, an idea can be modified to focus on local sea turtle species, which may inspire students to reduce their plastic bag usage, say no to straws, or even pursue conservation work in the future. Imagine the impact we can have if an even greater number of teachers are able to bring engaging conservation lessons into their classrooms. 

Ludick’s highlight from the trip was the respect the zoo specialists had for teachers and how willing and accommodating they were in sharing their lessons and knowledge. She added how much she enjoyed feeding the giraffes and rhinoe and hearing the lions roar at night. Ludick noted the dry heat and temperature of 105 degrees fahrenheit were a bit tough to deal with. “On this trip I learned that there still are really good, intelligent people and institutions helping to save our earth and the flora and fauna in it. I learned that technology plays such a big part in conservation. There are so many unexplored areas in the field, still, that need these people’s creativity and talent” added Ludick.

The program was filled with 34 educators, each of which had extensive experience in science education. At times, Silva found it intimidating to strike up conversations with others, especially those with more experience. “In those moments, I had to remind myself that my students have learned a thing or two in my classes, so I must have something to offer to the conversation!” commented Silva. Silva thoroughly enjoyed hand-feeding eucalyptus leaves to a Rothschild's giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi), despite the saliva left behind! Her lowest point during the program was realizing that despite how successful the California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) breeding program has been, they remain critically endangered in the wild and threatened with lead poisoning and habitat loss, among other issues. 

Both teachers highly recommend this program, and encourage parents to visit the San Diego Safari Park. Conservation is a global issue, but it plays out in local environments. Understanding how science can be used to investigate and address the issues can help empower students, and adults, to take action, even on the smallest scale.

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Connecting Handwork to the Bigger Picture

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Jessica Di Francesco, a Lower Elementary Teacher at Virgin Islands Montessori School & Peter Gruber International Academy (VIMSIA) recently attended a four day Elementary Alumni Association (EAA) training whose focus this year was handwork, specifically wool, cotton, silk and calligraphy. Di Franceso explained the importance of connecting everything you do in a Montessori setting to the bigger picture: “bringing handwork back to the children's discovery and letting them take that journey and the idea of practice, provides an opportunity to relax and work with your hands instead of technology.”

The EAA training was held in Boulder, Colorado with ninety elementary certified Montessori instructors from all over the world, including places like Russia and Europe. Just like at VIMSIA, a special emphasis was placed on the importance of connecting elaborate handmade projects to the bigger picture. Attendees studied a sample Montessori album, created by the instructor, which was filled with various lessons.

“My biggest takeaway was the importance of connecting the handwork to our human story” commented Di Francesco. "One of the theories of how felt was discovered involved a shepherd, going around the hills a long time ago, in Mesopotamia era, with his sheep walking all day long with very uncomfortable shoes. At some point, it’s presumed the shepherd took some fleece from a sheep and placed it in the shoes to line them and make it softer. Without knowing, as he walked around the fleece was wet and pressed, creating felt" added Di Francesco.

Ms. Di Francesco looks forward to a fun-filled year of education handwork with her students.

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