Island School Alumni Join Shark Explorers

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Six Island School alumni just finished their first week with Shark Explorers in South Africa. Here’s what their experience has been like so far, in their own words.

Off the boat, a step...and then, crash! Icy water runs through the wetsuit and awakens the mind and soul. Together, 7,400 miles always from Eleuthera, six Island School alums have begun to explore the depths of South Africa. 

A typical day usually consists of an early morning wake up followed by a quick coffee and breakfast. We begin our days with two sets of dives, one or two in the morning followed by a lunch, then off to a longer afternoon dive. This week, our mornings dives were spent doing SSI specialty courses, including Enriched Air Nitrox, Deep, Navigation and Night Diver. Apart from our certifications, we assisted the Shark Explorers team in water sampling of False Bay, testing pH levels, salinity and turbidity. Another task on the water involved the Shark Explorers cage diving boats. We served as deckhands, prepping the boat and aiding to chum the water, in order to attract seven gill cow sharks around seal island. We usually regroup around lunch time to refill our tanks and eat a quick meal to recharge our batteries. Afterwards the afternoon consists of our second or third dives of the day. In our first week alone, our underwater interactions have ranged from five different species of sharks, playful seals, slimey hagfish, breaching whales, and a range of octopuses. We navigated urchin barrens, kelp forests, and boat wrecks, siting vibrant walks of life in each location. As our time continues with Shark Explorers, we’re eager to meet what else the sea has to offer.

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Outside of the dive center, we’ve enthusiastically toured Cape Town and its surroundings. We drove around the Cape of Good Hope and were subsequently stunned by the gorgeous view and sunset of Chapman’s Peak. Wildlife sightings have been exciting and abundant, ranging from the penguins at Boulder’s Beach to the baboons and ostriches at Cape Point. Closer to home, we have a baboon that likes to visit the dive center looking for food! We filled our rainy days with a visit to the aquarium of Cape Town, followed by shopping and eating at local markets. However, on sunnier days, we journeyed into the bush for a safari tour at the Aquila Game Reservation. They had an array of wild animals native to South Africa, including lions, African elephants, giraffes, hippos, and endangered rhinos! During one free afternoon, we hiked up Admiral’s Waterfall in Simon’s Town, and at the peak, were greeted by a scenic view of the town (as well as a few cheeky baboons). As the weather improves, we’re hoping to hike Lion’s Head and Table Mountain.

Each day is busy, active, and, thrilling. Our Island School education has taught us to never stop exploring, so true to the school we all love, we will continue to do just that in Cape Town! 

Looking forward to sharing more of our South African adventures,

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Sachi Elias (FA ’14)

Jamie Frost (FA ’14)

Olivia Gomez (FA ’15)

Paityn Wedder (FA ’15)

Liam Carroll (FA ’17)

Jake Barrett (ST ’18)


Summer Term 2018 Update

As students embark in their last few weeks here, it gives us the perfect opportunity to reflect on the many unique learning experiences the students have shared. Throughout the past few weeks, students have participated in three classes, Marine Ecology, Tourism and Development and Sustainable Systems. Each of these classes challenges students to think about their relationship with place, to formulate questions and to develop solutions. Students spend one week immersed in each class.

 

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Marine Ecology:

Marine Ecology is focused on three core concepts—ecology, biological systems and natural history writing. Each morning, students gather in the classroom to study and discuss diverse ecosystems in the Bahamas. In the afternoon, marine ecology travels to a field location where they further discuss and explore the ecosystem studied that morning. During this time, they also practice observation, inference and communication skills.

While learning about mangroves, students take a short walk over to the campus’ mangrove forest, where they study the benefits of mangrove ecosystems and make observations.

While learning about mangroves, students take a short walk over to the campus’ mangrove forest, where they study the benefits of mangrove ecosystems and make observations.

On other days, students dive into their studies (literally) and make underwater observations of the nearby coral reefs. Through their connection with the  Cape Eleuthera Institute , students get to participate in important research and conservation efforts.

On other days, students dive into their studies (literally) and make underwater observations of the nearby coral reefs. Through their connection with the Cape Eleuthera Institute, students get to participate in important research and conservation efforts.

Throughout this course, students study effective ways to communicate scientific research. At the end of the class, all of the students submit a creative writing piece that demonstrates what they have learned throughout the course.

Throughout this course, students study effective ways to communicate scientific research. At the end of the class, all of the students submit a creative writing piece that demonstrates what they have learned throughout the course.

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Tourism and Development:

In this class, students study the economic and political history of the Bahamas. The course encourages them to think about their own relationship to place and how perceptions of the Bahamas have been constructed.

During this class, students leave for a four-day down island trip. On this trip, they interview locals and tourists about their opinions of tourism. They also participate in a 24-hour solo, meaning they live by themselves in an excluded area of the beach for one day. During this time, they are expected to journal and reflect on their time as an Island School student and set goals for themselves that will help them benefit their wider community.   

During this class, students leave for a four-day down island trip. On this trip, they interview locals and tourists about their opinions of tourism. They also participate in a 24-hour solo, meaning they live by themselves in an excluded area of the beach for one day. During this time, they are expected to journal and reflect on their time as an Island School student and set goals for themselves that will help them benefit their wider community.

 

In the classroom, students discuss tourism in the Bahamas and how advertising has contributed to specific expectations and perceptions of the Bahamas.

In the classroom, students discuss tourism in the Bahamas and how advertising has contributed to specific expectations and perceptions of the Bahamas.

Students also visited a nearby abandoned resort where they discussed the ecological and social impact of mass development in the Bahamas.

Students also visited a nearby abandoned resort where they discussed the ecological and social impact of mass development in the Bahamas.

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Sustainable Systems:
There is a lot to explore in the ocean and around the island, but there are also a
lot of great efforts happening right on our campus! In the sustainable systems
class, students learn about sustainable systems such as permaculture,
aquaculture, composting and solar energy. Throughout the week, students also
design and present projects that could be implemented in their own communities
to make them more sustainable.

In this image, students are seen learning about the benefits of pole mounted solar rays.

In this image, students are seen learning about the benefits of pole mounted
solar rays.

Students spent an afternoon at the aquaponics system learning about how the system operates and helping take care of the fish that make it possible.

Students spent an afternoon at the aquaponics system learning about how the
system operates and helping take care of the fish that make it possible.

While at the aquaponics systems, students also helped plant the lettuce that we eat on campus. Yum!

While at the aquaponics systems, students also helped plant the lettuce that we eat on campus. Yum!

During their time here, the students have participated in many unique learning experiences, and there is a lot to reflect on. But luckily there's still more time and plenty more to learn! We are very excited for the parents to join us next week and share in these many wonderful experiences with the students!

Celebrating Merlene (Mooch) Munnings and Sheryl Deveaux

Celebrating Merlene (Mooch) Munnings and Sheryl Deveaux

Since the inception of our ever-growing organization, Mooch and Sheryl have been the ladies behind the scenes that have fed the droves of people who make there way through our campus on the Cape each year. From Island School students to CEI researchers to Chris and Pam themselves, Mooch and Sheryl know how to provide for any number of people with any number of dietary needs. Beyond that, however, these women have acted as the backbone to the organization by serving in the role as "mom" away from home for many, many different types of people. They did so, first and foremost, by laying down the rules of the kitchen and making sure everyone behaved respectfully. 

Last weekend, we celebrated their almost-twenty years of love and devotion to the CEIS family with a celebration at the Marina. To see photos of the event, visit our Flickr page. Mooch, Sheryl - you will both be very missed! Good luck on your next adventure!

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A Generous Gift from the Dalio Foundation Allows Our Institute's Research to Dive Deeper...

A Generous Gift from the Dalio Foundation Allows Our Institute's Research to Dive Deeper...

This spring, the Dalio Foundation allowed for our Cape Eleuthera Institute Research Team to be a part of something never before done on the Cape. One of the Dalio family's philanthropic passions is ocean exploration, which is what inspired the Foundation to present an extremely generous donation of $1 million to our team at Cape Eleuthera. One half of this donation supports the deployment of the research vessel Alucia to Cape Eleuthera (through the Foundation's initiative, OceanX). The other half is designated toward a variety of research, education and outreach initiatives. This spring, we were able to collect preliminary data that will support the second Alucia mission to the Cape this August.

Dan DeVos and Sally   Searle in the sub.

Dan DeVos and Sally Searle in the sub.

Dr. Edd Brooks prepares for a trip down deep.

Dr. Edd Brooks prepares for a trip down deep.

Bobbie Hallig and Chris Maxey in the sub.

Bobbie Hallig and Chris Maxey in the sub.

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For more information on what our team was able to accomplish through the work done with the Alucia team, check out our video that dropped last week on World Oceans Day!

Bringing The Island School ethos to Harlem: why Nick Lanza, SP’10 wants to level the education playing field.

Nick Lanza, Spring 2010 Island School Alumnus and Faculty Member 2012 - 2016

Nick Lanza, Spring 2010 Island School Alumnus and Faculty Member 2012 - 2016

Nick Lanza has The Island School pumping through his veins. Eleuthera and his time on the Cape are part of who he is and where he’s going. With an undergraduate degree in environmental studies and adventure education followed by two years of teaching marine ecology at The Island School and two years as a Corps Member of Teach For America, Nick is passionate about improving education.

After attending IS in Spring 2010, Nick chose to further his love of experiential education at Prescott College. As a self described “waterbug,” the mountains and deserts of Arizona’s environment were outside his comfort zone. The desire to push himself and adapt to a new environment and community was cultivated during his semester as a student on Eleuthera. Ocean exploration was replaced with rock climbing in canyons; surfing replaced with mountain biking. At the end of each year at Prescott, Nick packed up his binders of work and flew straight to Eleuthera to teach Summer Term. He learned how to teach within an experiential education framework and directly applied his academic experiences to designing and building the Summer Term curriculum. The natural transition from Summer Term to teaching marine ecology during the semester programs gave Nick the room to produce original curricular content that took students underwater and taught them far more than fish identification.

Pre-dive lecture during Marine Ecology class. 

Pre-dive lecture during Marine Ecology class. 

With an itch to step outside his comfort zone again, Nick applied to Teach for America. Selected out of 48,000 applicants, he was placed in New York City’s public school system. Nick is now in his second year of teaching at Democracy Prep, a network charter school. Democracy Prep is a nationwide network of free open-enrollment college preparatory schools located in under resourced communities across America. When asked if there were any similarities between Democracy Prep and The Island School, Nick said, “the only thing that is similar is that the school happens to be in Manhattan, which happens to also be an island.” It has been a challenging and rewarding transition from Hawaiian shirts and flip flops to business attire; teaching class while on a boat to rows of perfectly spaced desks; and from a group of many students with seemingly endless opportunity to a place where students work tirelessly to reach a similar educational starting line as their privileged counterparts.

Democracy Prep is vastly different than The Island School. The structure of the school strives to bridge the achievement gap by maximizing classroom time. With the majority of the student body falling victim to institutionalized racism within school districts, Nick and his colleagues are helping their students open doors for themselves. The juxtaposition of Democracy Prep with The Island School has fueled Nick’s passion for education while also pushing himself in exactly the way he wanted when leaving his comfort zone of Eleuthera.

Nearing the end of his TFA two-year tenure, Nick remains committed to working towards equity in education. Throughout his career he hopes to work with other leaders to infuse the transformational experiences from schools like The Island School and Prescott College into underprivileged educational communities like Democracy Prep. Nick dreams of working towards equity by meeting baselines but also by enhancing learning through a focus on place-based education that stems from and creates stewardship in local communities. In the fall, he will transition to School in the Square, an independent charter school in Washington Heights, New York. With inspiring enthusiasm, an engrained love of learning, and a drive to level the education playing field, Nick will no doubt create leaders affecting change in every classroom he steps foot in.