The Island School offers a transformative educational semester and summer term in Eleuthera, The Bahamas. High school sophomores and juniors from around the world join our community to learn outside the walls of a classroom. With the campus and surrounding ocean as our laboratory and with help from our partners at the Cape Eleuthera Institute, we teach students how to live sustainably in the 21stcentury.
The Island School experience culminates in the beginning of a lifelong educational journey, with more self-confident students leaving as engages global citizens, empowered to be active leaders of their generation. The program offers school-centered academics, outdoor programs supporting personal growth and leadership development, and community programs that practice a project-based approach to local collaboration.
“By challenging students to do college-level marine biology research in conjunction with research scientists, The Island School continues to push forward concepts about what optimum learning in high school can look like,” says co-founders Chris and Pam Maxey. “We measure our success not by test scores or GPAs but by the good work that our students do in the world.”
Offering Fall and Spring academic semesters, the 100-day semester program is place-based and experiential, immersing students in both the natural and cultural landscape of South Eleuthera. Each course includes a field component. In the applied scientific research course, students collect and analyze data for a wide spectrum of investigations, including fisheries research, sustainable energy and food production systems.
“We live on a little island, and we are a bubble,” says Chris Moxey. “And by acting local, we start thinking globally. The Island School village can be a model for other communities across the ocean planet.”
The crux of Humanities coursework stems from cultural immersion experiences throughout the semester. Students spend considerable time learning from residents of Eleuthera’s settlements, small towns of fewer than 1,000 people. Daily life on campus allows Island Schoolers to gain understandings of leadership, sustainability, community, and sense of place without the distractions of cell phones and internet, living closely with peers and faculty alike.
The Island School Summer Term is an abbreviated, 30-day intensive version of the Fall/Spring semester program. Through a rigorous course of study that includes field work in local ecosystems, explorations of local settlements and the socioeconomic impacts of development, and dynamic interaction with campus’ sustainable systems, Summer Term students grapple with how communities – on an island in The Bahamas and beyond – can live most sustainably.
The Summer Term curriculum invites students to think about how we protect fragile ecosystems, how we harness natural sources of energy, where our food comes from, where our fresh water comes from and more.
Many students will earn a high school science credit in Human Ecology. Students will be asked to complete written and oral assessments related to their nightly reading, field research and class discussions. At the same time, students will be actively involved – both physically and intellectually – in their learning experience. Educational opportunities during the day range from surveying mangrove creeks to exploring the land surrounding campus ad learning about local plants and using them in their next meal to studying coral reef ecosystems while SCUBA diving in Marine Ecology class.
Students’ routine includes the same physical challenge that Island School semester students embrace: five morning each week of training for a culminating endurance event of running and swimming, the famed “Monster Run-Swim.” Additionally, Summer Term students will venture out in kayaks and experience a 24-hour solo in order to reflect on their learning on Eleuthera.
“We just celebrated our 20-year anniversary and have over 2,000 alumni,” says Chris Moxey. “The work they are doing is amazing because of the awareness they learned at The Island School.”
“Island School gave me the confidence to believe that I could make a difference,” says Sara Rodell, a Fall 2002 alumna. “During my semester, we took waste cooking oil and made biodiesel for our truck. When I returned to Austin, Texas, I started an alternative fuels club and we made fuel for the school buses. If you can challenge fossil fuel in Texas, then you know you can do anything. I have been an entrepreneur ever since, now soaring with my third start up.”