More Freshly Painted Homes from the House Painting Initiative

The Coco Point Fund initiated an island wide painting initiative last year and freshly painted homes are rolling in! These homes have taken advantage of the supplies provided likes like paint, brushes, rollers and paint sprayers.

Approximately 40 Barbuda residents wanted to participate in the first round. We encourage the continued use of the supplies and are pleased to show the latest results. The cheerful colors are bringing hope and happiness to the island and the pursuit of more rebuilding!

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Summary of the Teacher Training Initiative Week

The teacher training initiative has been completed and as Bentham Lewis, our lead director on the island said, “this is the best thing that’s happened on Barbuda in the last 20 years!!”

The teachers arrived on Monday morning and spent the first day with the teachers alone. As it was Easter vacation the children were not in school yet the teachers worked all day Monday thru Thursday.  They discussed what they wanted to accomplish and what they wanted to do with the kids.

Although the students were on break, children came on Tuesday and Wednesday so that the trainers could spend time in a real setting showing them how to improve their teaching skills.  The children were wonderful and often times entirely focused on the trainers.  The trainers stressed the importance of ‘differentiated instruction’  which is a modern educational approach that treats each student as an individual learner – advancing at their own pace.

Much of the success was also due to the new environment, the newly furnished rooms, and the additional laptop and 5 tablets ( 1 for each classroom), along with other supplies that the trainers brought with them.  The high tech equipment will be stored in a safe that will be installed this week.

As the week progressed each teacher worked to learn how to write and implement lesson plans, and then have an opportunity,  the following day, to use them for instruction planning while receiving hands on constructive criticism by the trainers and the ability to adjust in the real life setting. 

Wednesday afternoon the trainers met with a group of 20+ interested parents and talked about how they can help their children by continuing the learning at home.  The parents were in awe of the support and direction and very appreciative!!

Ending their week, the trainers were able to visit Holy Trinity School, meeting with several teachers, and touring the facility.   This was followed by a lovely send off lunch at the Barbuda Belle and a brief tour of the frigate birds. 

From the trainers perspective, they shared it was the most rewarding trip they have ever done.  They fell in love with the island and its people.  The teachers are now more inspired than ever to teach and we hope that future training trips will be orchestrated to continue to make an impact!

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Teach Trainer at the PreSchool

Teacher trainers arrived on the island this week from the US.  We were thrilled to have them consulting for a week to train the teachers in our newly renovated PreSchool.  The Coco Point Fund shipped lots of furniture and rugs and other materials to bring the nursery school up to modern educational standards. In addition, the teachers arrived with lots of laptops, tablets and supplies to help create a more robust curriculum.  The goal of the Coco Point Fund with this initiative is to improve educational outcomes for generations to come!  If this initiative is successful, we will likely commit to doing similar improvements to the holy trinity school.

The training has also highlighted how important the design of a classroom is to educational outcomes. In the previous space, the children were sitting at simple tables in a stark learning environment.  The addition of new rugs and chairs has created a vastly improved learning environment!  Teachers and students are much more focused on learning.  And modern teaching methods, such as differentiated learning, are now part of the learning process. 

Special thanks to MeTeor Education and Home Depot for being such GREAT partners of the Coco Point Fund!

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Daycare Center Completed

As word spread of our work on the preschool, the Coco Point Fund became more coordinated with all the other charitable funds and NGO’s working in Barbuda. In particular, we developed a strong working and economic partnership with three such funds; The Jumby Bay Fund,  Mill Reef Fund and Paradise Found’s Barbuda Relief Fund.

The Daycare Center had been badly damaged by Hurricane Irma. It’s second-story was totally destroyed. We set our sights on rebuilding this facility.  Thanks to a couple, who were long time Coco Point Lodge guests, we secured a lead donation. We then asked the three funds noted above to equally share in the cost of the reconstruction. Once again we turned to Griff Walker for help. In addition we worked with Chad Alexander, a Barbudan architect who received scholarship assistance from the Coco Point Fund. (Look for a future story on our blog about how the Coco Point Scholarship Fund helped Chad succeed and how he is now giving back to his fellow Barbudans!)

We contracted with Griff Walker in late June 2018 to rebuild only the first floor. Home Depot again supplied most of our building materials at very discounted prices. Work started on September 18, 2018 and the facility was completed in January 2019. The quality of the workmanship is outstanding. You will notice in the photos that we kept the exterior cement stairs to the second story so as to retain the option of rebuilding it in the future if a community need surfaces. In early February 2019 we had a small ceremony handing over the keys to the Barbuda Council. The furniture and learning materials are expected to arrive in late March. The before and after pictures reflect the completion of another on schedule and on budget project.

In the coming months we will post updates, photos and stories once the kids return.

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First Reveal in House Painting Initiative

In partnership with the Jumby Bay Fund and Mill Reef Fund, The Coco Point Fund initiated an island wide painting initiative. Collectively, we have supplied the paint, brushes, rollers and paint sprayers to approximately 40 Barbuda residents who wanted to participate in the first round. Connie was a longtime employee of Coco Point Lodge. She was part of the main dining room staff and loved by all of the guests. . She is enjoying the bright cheery red update to her home!


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William Cody Preschool Complete

Rebuilding the preschool was the fund’s first construction project. In order to attract back Barbudan families, who had been displaced by Hurricane Irma, and evacuated to Antigua, an operating school system was necessary. The high school was mostly intact and could function for both primary and secondary classes, while the Barbuda Council and Antiguan government addressed repairing the primary school. With the governments limited resources it was highly unlikely that they could address the preschool anytime soon. In early February 2018, members of our board met with contractors on Barbuda to review their proposals and references. We selected Griff Walker, Walker Construction, to be our general contractor for the rebuild. The historic building, which we believe was originally constructed around 1905, served as the main classroom. It suffered severe damage when it’s entire roof came off. As you can see in the before photograph the building’s walls are approximately 2 1/2 feet thick and made of limestone blocks. There was a kitchen attached to this main building, which the Coco Point fund built approximately 15 years ago, which also suffered significant damage. The adjacent five classroom building was also damaged and unusable.

While Griff’s crew attended to the demolition we were able to leverage our budding relationship with the Home Depot and get the needed building materials delivered quickly from Miami. We contracted with Griff in March 2018 and the project was completed in September 2018, on budget. A few weeks ago four members of our board visited the school and found 37 children and 6 teachers very happy in their newly refurbished school. The pictures of the smiling thankful children reflect the success of our first long-distance construction project.

In coming months we will post in this space stories about the history of our past involvement with the preschool, how the school came to be named William Cody Kelly Preschool, and the introduction and adoption of a new advanced curriculum coming very soon to the preschool.

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