Academy Prepared for New Virtual Reality. Online classes commence August 17
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Academy Prepared for New Virtual Reality. Online classes commence August 17

SINT MAARTEN (CUL DE SAC) - The St. Maarten Academy’s academic campus will open its virtual gates on Monday August 17th, 2020 for all students registered at Forms 1 to 5. The sixth form students in the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) programme will not commence classes on Monday.

They are scheduled to begin on Monday, September 28, 2020, as the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) results are scheduled to be released on September 22, 2020.

With students beginning the new academic year online due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, the school conducted a series of workshops and training sessions with all stakeholders in the two weeks leading up to the new school year.

Organized by the school’s management team and Student Care Department, these sessions included training staff to use and integrate various online platforms in order to enhance the delivery of their lesson in this online modality.

In week one, which ran from August 3 – 7, 2020, teachers engaged in training facilitated by the school’s EduTech team comprising fellow teachers Ms. Joanna Trim, Ms. Kester Small, Mr. Conlan King and Mr. Julian Mason. The EduTech team falls under DigiTeenz, a project funded through the Foresee Foundation.

This staff-on-staff training initiative is in keeping with the theme chosen for this academic year, “We’re in this together. Be Kind. Be Safe.”, which principal drs. Tallulah Baly-Vanterpool said was inspired by the World Health Organization (WHO). She also reminded staff that, “Being kind also means to be kind to yourself, and making time for your overall health and well-being.”

As part of the emphasis on a holistic approach to health, staff of the academic campus, along with its sister school, PSVE, participated in a virtual wellness workshop on Friday, August 7, 2020. The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Tasheena Maccow-Thomas, owner of health and wellness company, TeeZan.

Dr. Maccow-Thomas presented on the health benefits, along with the healing properties of local herbs. Staff of both campuses were also given a gift basket of TeeZan products, which was sponsored by the school’s board of management, the Board of the Foundation for Academic and Vocational Education (FAVE).

Three primary activities occurred during week ending Friday August 14, 2020: book sales, orientation, and workshops. In order to adhere to health protocols, and limit traffic on campus, book sales were done by year level, and followed a set schedule which parents and students were apprised of.

Orientation sessions were held online by form level. During these sessions, students and parents were introduced to subject teachers, homeroom teachers, and members of the school’s Student Care Department.

After welcoming and congratulating students, principal drs. Tallulah Baly-Vanterpool assured students and parents alike that the quality of the education product and the high standards that have come to be associated with the school both locally and regionally, would not be compromised. “Your teachers are hardworking and are dedicated to your success, and have been working tirelessly to ensure that you have a successful academic year, so try your best”, she said.

“I believe that what you put out is the same energy that you receive,” she told students and parents. She also advised them to approach the new school year with a positive attitude, to work earnestly with integrity, strive for excellence, and to surround themselves with like-minded individuals “who will fill their cup.”

Parents were also reminded to work in tandem with teachers, who in essence, co-parent right alongside them since they, too, try to instill not only academic knowledge, but also values and morals aimed at developing students into well-rounded citizens. She also encouraged parents to truly listen and serve as a safe emotional space for their children, to provide a nurturing environment as well as to serve as their cheerleader, particularly as students will be attending classes from home.

Parents and students were also introduced to the head of the Student Care Department, school psychologist Mrs. Amanda President-Joé, career guidance counselor for the upper forms, Mrs. Shameda Delaney-Weekes, and guidance counselor for the lower forms, Ms. Amy Arrindell.

The team informed parents and students of the support services and resources that they provide, and also provided guidelines that parents and students could use to navigate through the school year. Parents and students were also reminded to fill out the surveys distributed, as the data collected will inform future decisions and allow the school to share resources and support.

Teachers Mr. Conlan King and Mr. Julian Mason also facilitated sessions introducing students and parents to the platforms that teachers were going to be using to deliver content, as well as how to use school’s student tracking system, Quick Schools.

The board of management and management team wishes the members of the academy family a successful academic year and encourages everyone to adhere to all health and safety protocols, because “we’re all in this together.”

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