Educators Have Conversation On Collaboration

November 25, 2020

[Written by Glenn Fubler]

Seven educators from the public and private sectors gathered via Zoom on Monday [Nov 23] from 4pm, re-booting a conversation on optimizing collaboration across the Island to benefit all students.

They included School Principals Linda Parker – BHS, Keisha Douglas – Berkeley, Kenneth Caesar – CedarBridge, Resheema Swan- Whitney. Also on the Zoom meeting was Jane Vickers – Director of Development for Warwick Academy, Kaitlyn Noyes – Education Officer at BIOS and Dr Ali Arouzi – Math Lecturer at Bermuda College. Apologies were received from Bermuda Institute, Dellwood, Saltus, Sandys Middle and Somersfield.

The opening of the BHS Innovation Centre and the promise that it would be open to other schools on the Island post-Covid was a great opportunity for us to reconnect and discuss the different ways that we could collaborate to the benefit of all of our students in Bermuda.

The Zoom session began informally, reflecting on the impact of Covid-19 on the campuses.

After formally welcoming participants, I delivered a message from the Commissioner of Education – Kalmar Richards – encouraging this rebooting of the initiative. Participants were reminded that Linda and Kalmar were both closely involved, in the origin of the initiative – some 5 years ago – when the Commissioner was then Principal of CedarBridge.

Linda Parker then offered a capsule insight into the Innovation Centre, highlighting various details. She pointed out that the sharing of the facility would be delayed, given the pandemic. BHS’ initial vision was for the facility-sharing taking place on either weekends or holidays. However in response to questions, the principal noted the possibility of other options.

Linda went on to highlight an existing collaboration entitled SHE Leads: a Real-World Readiness Programme involving BHS, Berkeley and CedarBridge.

This HSBC-sponsored programme has the goal of providing for girls in the penultimate year of high school some of the tools, frameworks and mindsets necessary for them to take ownership in their journeys forward. The inaugural event in 2019 was so successful that they are hoping to create an equivalent venture for Middle School students.

Keisha Douglas reinforced Linda’s assessment, reporting that the impact on Berkeley’s participants rippled through much of the student body. Consequently, younger students are anxiously awaiting their opportunity for this ‘rite of passage’.

Kenneth Caesar concurred with his colleagues, pointing out that SHE Leads and other joint-ventures, offer clear evidence of the leveraging potential of collaboration. The CedarBridge principal went on to note that these type of non-competitive interschool -experiences had positive implications on our overall society.

In segueing with those sentiments, I shared a vision of considering ‘Bermuda – the School’. This perspective recognizes the potential for learning – beyond the walls of various campuses – across the whole Island. The intention of rebooting the conversation to optimize collaboration was in that vein.

Jane Vickers gave an insight into Warwick Academy’s new Marine Science Centre, which has developed with input from BIOS. Their facility makes use of patio-space along the foreshore, limiting the impact of Covid. It is currently available to other schools during the school-day, as it is separate from their main campus. It can accommodate groups of 30 students on the patio and small groups could use the labs.

Kaitlyn Noyes offered a brief overview of BIOS’ work with local schools from primary up through Bermuda College. She is currently winding down a collaboration on a Marine Biology Course with Berkeley and Cedarbridge. The international research centre has been linking with Warwick’s new centre, leveraging that location to benefit local schools, given their relative remoteness at Ferry Reach.

Dr Ari Arouzi – Math Instructor of Bermuda College – explained that he would participate in the initiative lending his support from the perspective of his expertise in Math education. Sharing his insights into the advantages of collaboration across public – private, he shared how his son had benefited from learning beyond the classroom.

A consensus was reached amongst participants to continue the conversation over the whole school year with at least 3 more sessions – the next in January 2021. Supplementary sessions on specific topics are an option.

The vast majority of the Principals of Senior and Middle – public and private, have already committed to join this vital dialogue. Stakeholder organizations BAMZ, BIOS, BUEI, Bermuda Math Council and the National Museum of Bermuda have given an undertaking to support the initiative.

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