When we set out to launch Operation Inspire – our after-school enrichment program that brings project-based learning and innovation into our public schools – our goal was to inspire. Well, we believe we’ve done that. But in the process, the students have inspired us.
It’s been challenging, don’t be mistaken, this road has been long and filled with obstacles. But when we get to witness participating young people building drones, sailing a ship, redesigning the layout of St. Croix, baking traditional tarts, learning computer coding through Minecraft – we realize our kids are there. They are ready and willing. It’s us who have to catch up and build the type of programming that will teach them to be the future leaders and innovators of the world. The brilliance is in them, they just need us to supply the canvas and the brush.
We started out during the 2018-2019 school year at the John H. Woodson Junior High School. Then, we expanded to the St. Croix Educational Complex this school year. And we’re hoping to enter our first elementary school in the upcoming semester.
We are growing and tweaking the program as we go, learning and improving with the hopes of calling on other EDC companies and RTPark companies to step up and sponsor a student, a class or even a whole school. So we can bring innovative, hands on learning opportunities to our young people, to hopefully complement what they are learning in school so we can together prepare them for high tech jobs and positions of leadership.
Our program is run by public school teachers, who are passionate about their subject matter and who stay late to run those classes, along with an assistant teacher who is either a UVI student or a paraprofessional in that school. In some cases, classes are taught by educators in the field, such as is the case with the World Ocean School, who holds a class at Complex. The students get an hour of homework help and an hour of programming. Classes have included engineering, city planning, robotics, VI culture, songs of protest, civics, sailing, computer coding, and media production.
We’ve established a unique long-term partnership with the VI Department of Education in order to provide these classes free of charge within the school environment. And we encourage anyone able, to participate. Thanks to our fiscal partnership with the St. Croix Foundation, we have been able to smoothly run the logistics of the program. It has taken support from all sides to make it a reality.
And that speaks to our philosophy – we all have a part to play. So we do what we can, when we can, as often as we can. Let’s inspire.