Gifft Hill School students back in sessions at the lower campus.
GIFFT HILL — Gifft Hill School officially opened for the 2015-2016 school year on September 1, and it is expected to be a fruitful and successful year.
From the engaged children in Pre-K, to the excited senior class of twelve students, Gifft Hill School is prepared for an amazing year, according to Head of School Dr. Laurie Bottiger.
Admissions have positively increased since last year, Dr. Bottiger announced.
“We are pleased to have close to 50 additional families,” the Head of School announced. “We pride ourselves in having a wonderfully diverse population of families who want an excellent education that honors a healthy lifestyle for their children.”
“Our family partnerships are very important to us at Gifft Hill,” Dr. Bottiger added. “Parents are children’s first teachers.”
“With strong parent engagement, we can help each child reach their potential through love, care, and support,” the educator continued. “At Gifft Hill we have a strong record of academic success pointing to academic rigor. We achieve this success by emphasizing experiential learning and compassionate community.”
“Our campuses are designed to have our children experience school both inside and outside with our outdoor classrooms,” Dr. Bottiger said of the experience-based learning at the school. “We refer to them as ‘classrooms without walls.’ Our children enjoy the national park as a place of both enjoyment and learning”
New Staff Welcomed
Faculty membership increased as well this year. The school welcomes Pre-K teachers Ms. Anna-Marie and Ms. Colleen, Kindergarten teacher Ms. Kelly, and Middle School social studies teacher Mr. Devin, to the Lower Campus.
The Upper Campus welcomes Spanish teachers Ms. Veronica and Ms. Angel (who doubles as an EARTH teacher), theatre resident Mr. Marcel, college counselor Ms. Patricia, and guidance counselor Ms. Moyer.
Goals for the School Year
To ensure that development and growth continues at the school, the faculty has set forth goals for this school year, according to Dr. Bottiger.
“Our professional development emphasis for faculty include: student engagement, assessment and grading, enhanced technology in a 21st Century educational program emphasizing innovation, communication and more, and the introduction of Singapore math, a math program emphasizing conceptual learning,” Dr. Bottiger elucidated.
“We also plan on having our performing arts programming in collaboration with NEYT (a theater and music program plus four community performances a year) and our ISU sponsored EARTH program, a 19,000 square foot garden that allows our students to create a home plan that emphasizes food security and healthy eating,” she added. “The program will also contribute to the daily lunch program and our signature farm to table events.”
“This year, we will also have a presence at the St. John Farmers Market and will be hosting community cafe days on campus,” Dr. Bottiger continued. “We value the unique history of the Virgin Islands, so we have integrated V.I. history throughout our curriculum and look forward to working with island experts throughout the year.”
Ongoing Construction and Maintenance
Students and families entering the Upper Campus may be surprised to find construction equipment located around the gym, Dr. Bottiger warned.
“We are excited that we have outdoor education spaces on all sides of our building,” said Dr. Bottiger. “We look forward to hosting classes and parent-gatherings in our new space.”
“We will have a ribbon cutting ceremony in the middle of November,” she added.
Meanwhile the Lower Campus Playground received some maintenance this summer. Terry and Tommy Bertolino volunteered in stripping and sanding the fence and applying new coats of paint, and four tons of playground mulch have been spread by some fourth and fifth graders of the school.
Come See the School
Dr. Bottiger’s devotion to the school can be clearly seen in her excitement for the school year.
“This is going to be our best year ever!” she exclaimed. “We have a wonderfully synergistic faculty and staff and we are evolving into a strong professional learning community.”
“We are committed to making sure that all families on St. John and St. Thomas know that if they want a wonderfully healthy and academically excellent education, Gifft Hill School is the place,” Dr. Bottiger reminded parents throughout the St. Thomas/St. John District; as our tagline suggests, we are cultivating strong hearts and caring minds”.
“We believe that children are the most precious gift to our society,” Dr. Bottiger added. “It is our responsibility to provide excellent education that allows all children to be competent, confident, and connected.”
“At Gifft Hill, we dedicate ourselves to making our excellent schooling accessible to our islands families,” the school administrator continued. “Children have limitless potential and within that philosophy they thrive… come see us.”