Operation Inspire Expands Free Virtual Afterschool Program for USVI Students

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Cane Bay Cares announced Tuesday that it would expand its free virtual tutoring for Virgin Islands students through its afterschool program Operation Inspire.

Operation Inspire will expand virtual one-on-one sessions to support students who are struggling with COVID-19 induced distance learning.

Operation Inspire will expand virtual one-on-one sessions to support students who are struggling with COVID-19 induced distance learning.

I strongly believe that we all need to make investments into the children of the Virgin Islands who will be the next leaders of our territory and the businesses within it.

Cane Bay Cares announced Tuesday that it would expand its free virtual tutoring for Virgin Islands students through its afterschool program Operation Inspire (OI).

The virtual program will expand to include new workshops and more individual tutoring to support students who are struggling with virtual learning during the pandemic. The updated curriculum will include sign language workshops and presentations on environmental conservation, health and wellness, Crucian culture, and other selected topics.

OI presently boasts 53 students from various schools and is still accepting new students from any school in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

How to Sign Up

Parents and guardians can register their children and find schedules for the virtual classes on the Cane Bay Cares website.

There are openings for individual sessions and for small group sessions from grades two through 12.

Operation Inspire 2020 Achievements

The development of OI’s virtual program in 2021 is an extension of the groundwork laid in 2020.

Major accomplishments in 2020 include the launch of a virtual Summer Reading Club where 29 elementary school students actively participated. The reading program incorporated Gov. Albert Bryan’s Summer Reading Challenge and focused on reading fluency and comprehension skills.

Kirk Chewning, co-founder and partner at Cane Bay Partners, described OI as an important commitment in facilitating opportunities for young Virgin Islanders to develop skills that are relevant to the workplace.

“Cane Bay as well as many other local employers leverage real life and project-based learnings in our analytical work for our clients. OI provides entry experiences into the same,” Chewning said. “It is our job to provide meaningful opportunities to assist with the education process and provide opportunities for residents.”

Cane Bay Partners Co-founder and Partner David Johnson said OI is an investment in the Virgin Islands community.

“I strongly believe that we all need to make investments into the children of the Virgin Islands who will be the next leaders of our territory and the businesses within it,” Johnson said. “Operation Inspire is an important part of the equation, and we are glad to do our part through this program.”

About Operation Inspire

OI is funded through Cane Bay Cares, the charitable giving arm of Cane Bay Partners VI, LLLP, in partnership with the St. Croix Foundation. The initial motive behind the program was to supplement shortened schedules in VI public schools after Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. But even after schedules went back to normal, OI continued to support the work of the VI Department of Education by developing homework assistance and enrichment programs for public school students.

The initiative evolved into a completely virtual program to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Going virtual made it possible for students from private and parochial schools to participate.

Learning Approaches and Strengths

One of the afterschool program’s strengths is the level of guidance students receive through one-on-one instruction and small group sessions, which are capped at 15 students per class.

OI is also focused on developing 21st century skills through project-based learning. The approach prioritizes skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, technology literacy, media literacy, innovation, creativity, and productivity.

The project-based classes are student-led with the goal of empowering students to be future leaders. For example, 7th and 8th graders are now designing a new school based on the cultural needs of the Virgin Islands.

“Our students are the ones asking questions, leading discussions, tracking data, reading, and researching!” OI Coordinator Raydiance Watts-Clarke said.

One parent, Lisa Harris, described the project-based learning style as “amazing.”

“I sat and watched many times my son’s interaction with his teachers at Operation Inspire, and it is amazing how they are able to catch his attention,” Harris said. “My son has never complained to join his tutor sessions.”

The instructors who facilitate the process are teachers and paraeducators from the Arthur A. Richards, Pearl B. Larsen, Ricardo Richards elementary schools, and St. Croix Educational Complex high school, along with junior instructors who are University of the Virgin Islands students.

Small group sessions are typically two-hours long and are divided by grade level. The first hour is dedicated to homework or enrichment assignments, and the second hour is reserved for project-based learning.

Project themes by grade level include the following:

  • K-1 – Reading and Literacy
  • 2-3 – Agriculture and Personal Development
  • 4-6 – Culture and History
  • 7-8 – Community Development and Planning
  • 9-12 – Applied Math and Science

Classes start at 3 p.m. on selected weekdays.

Becoming a Sponsor

In collaboration with VIDE and the St. Croix Foundation, Cane Bay Cares welcomes additional sponsorship in support of OI programs. A donation of between $200 and $10,000 could sponsor a student or a whole school for a semester of learning.

Sponsors can donate to the program via the St. Croix Foundation.

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Stephanie Hanlon
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