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

Alex Silva and Kate Ludick

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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Design Inspiration Sparked Abroad

Truax and her parents in front of the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Truax and her parents in front of the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Upper Canada College in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Upper Canada College in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Summertime is known for beaches, family trips and relaxation, but for many teachers like Jamie Truax, it’s the perfect time to take professional development courses. Truax, a Virgin Islands Montessori School & Peter Gruber International Academy (VIMSIA) Mathematics and Design teacher, recently attended the Middle Years Programme Level 2 Training in Toronto, Canada. The training hosted over 200 attendees and was held at Upper Canada College, an all-boys boarding school.

The training led by John Sweetman, was broken up into three separate sessions over the course of two and a half days and touched upon various websites, resources, and ideas for teaching design in the Middle Years Programme. “Design can be broken into two different subject areas Tactile Design and Web Design which are both project based” Truax explained. “Sweetman provided great examples which has greatly inspired me and brought on some great ideas for design this year” she added. Truax noted how much emphasis Sweetman placed on the importance of being an IB learner and incorporating those traits into the design units. 

For many teachers like Truax, international professional development opportunities open the doors for collaboration, networking and an opportunity to take a more in-depth look at their program. Truax thanks VIMSIA for their dedication and support of their teachers. 

Congratulations Class of 2018

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The PGIA Class of 2018 has been through a life-changing senior year. The devastating hurricanes in September of 2017 took their senior class of 17, all the way down to just 10 seniors on campus. Their close-knit group was severed, as many families were displaced from St. Thomas due to lost homes and lost jobs. The remaining students faced having to endure the rigorous IB Diploma Program without power, internet or most other school resources that they needed. These hearty students came back to school just 3 short weeks after Hurricanes Irma & Maria destroyed our island's infrastructure. These students survived daily classes with no electricity, no water, no internet, etc. They endured 107 days of this. Still, they hung strong. They stayed their course and managed to keep themselves on track, academically and personally. They received many generous donations from the community of food, school supplies, deadline extensions, prom dresses and even prom itself! Four of our original Class of 2018 students have rejoined us on this stage today, after their lives took on very different, unexpected changes during their senior year. We are honored to have all of these 14 students walking in our graduation ceremony. The PGIA Class of 2018 is truly a group of young adults filled with grit and perseverance. At this early point in their lives, they have overcome one of the most horrific natural disasters known to the Caribbean. And succeeded. There is no limit on what they can do now - they are literally unstoppable. 

Lights, Camera, Action!

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Virgin Islands Montessori School & Peter Gruber International Academy (VIMSIA) students celebrated a great show weekend in the VIMSIA Musical Theater room, after the completion of two very successful shows of "Beauty and the Beast". Both evening shows were packed by community members with standing room only! Thank you to all the parents and students who contributed to the success of this production. Congratulations to VIMSIA's Theater and Arts department. 

Knowledge Has a Beginning But No End

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Congratulations to Peter Gruber International Academy instructor Alex Silva and Montessori instructor Kate Ludick for proactively working on furthering their education. Both talented instructors applied for and received full scholarships to an amazing teacher training program at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research! 

The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation has built a nationally recognized and fully accredited program with a stellar reputation for giving teachers access to unparalleled information and experiences. To date, they have trained more than 1000 middle and high school science teachers and informal science educators from all 50 states and nine other countries. Participants spend their days in intensive study in the Conservation Education Lab and their evenings at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, engaging with staff members and acquiring invaluable new skills to take back to their home campuses. During the workshop, teachers work together to frame content standards in the context of wildlife conservation and explore ways to challenge students to apply textbook knowledge of life science to current biodiversity challenges. Participants engage in activities that focus on critical issues facing endangered species using a variety of advanced technical tools and techniques; all activities support the Next Generation Science Standards and can be implemented back in the classroom.

Congratulations Alex and Kate!

Home for the Holidays - PGIA Alumni Luncheon

From left to right: Kendal Benjamin '17 Duquesne University, Ali Bartsch '17 Stanford University, Kayla Rivers '17 Seton Hall University, CJ Fahie '16 Indiana Tech University, Kiyalyn Bump Dalhousie University '16, Aneesh Chandiramani '17 Clark University and Leah Trotman '17 Agnes Scott College   Not pictured: Abraham Hamed '16 Valencia College, Christina Brett '17 University of Tampa and Eyad Hamed '17 Valencia College

From left to right: Kendal Benjamin '17 Duquesne University, Ali Bartsch '17 Stanford University, Kayla Rivers '17 Seton Hall University, CJ Fahie '16 Indiana Tech University, Kiyalyn Bump Dalhousie University '16, Aneesh Chandiramani '17 Clark University and Leah Trotman '17 Agnes Scott College

Not pictured: Abraham Hamed '16 Valencia College, Christina Brett '17 University of Tampa and Eyad Hamed '17 Valencia College

The PGIA College Counseling office hosted the fourth annual Alumni Luncheon on Wednesday, December 20th.  Our alumni were full of energy and excitement as they returned to campus to share experiences, insights and goals with our current juniors and seniors.  Many of our returning alums have only completed their first semesters of college but are well of their way to blazing some amazing trails.  

Some notable pieces of advice from our former Volts: 

"Be an advocate for yourself and what you believe in."

"All of your hard work (in the DP program) is totally worth it."

"Follow your passion."

"Keep an open mind."

"Go to class!"  :)

Thank you Alumni!  We wish you the best!