Eleuthera’s secret to inclusive student success

Exceptional Education Outreach provides intense reading interventions using a multisensory approach

Dillan Grant is a graduate of St. Mary’s University London with a law degree. He is just one of many success stories of students that were able to avail themselves of learning support offered by Exceptional Education Outreach (EEO) outreach and literacy development program and can now boast of being professionals.

EEO which services students in Eleuthera, Harbour Island and Spanish Wells’ purpose is simple – it allows each student to reach his/her full potential. That could mean for college or workforce readiness, or basic literacy and personal skill development for vocational work.

EEO is a program that is ideal for any student needing learning support, according to Tiffany Bain, EEO teacher and advancement and development associate. Students who are “falling a little under the crack” and even those with varying intellectual abilities are able to avail themselves of the help needed.

“Data shows that around 20 percent to 25 percent of students require learning support services. That accounts for about 12,500 of the approximately 50,000 students enrolled in Bahamian government schools each year,” said Bain. “This number reflects pre-pandemic data, and does not account for learning and academic challenges stemming from the challenges of online learning at home during the pandemic.

“This school year there are more than 240 students from pre-primary to high school supported by EEO. Some students receive direct interventions three to five times each week and others, who are the program’s biggest success stories, have achieved the reading achievement benchmark but are still monitored and supported by EEO teachers. Each EEO student is on a tailored learning journey shaped by individual education plans (IEPs) and monitored by assessments in the fall, winter and spring of each school year. Some students meet their peak learning abilities on traditional academic pathways and college-readiness, while others meet their own fullest potential building personal development and vocational skills.”

As a school partner, she said EEO works typically during school hours and offers student “pull-outs” where students come to their centers on the school campus during the school day, for support.

Bain said in some cases they also provide “push-ins” where an EEO teacher is able to support students in their regular classes, taught by the school’s teachers. They also offer summer programming. Some centers extend their services to after school as well.

“We serve as a community partner in education and support. Schools make referrals for students that need learning support, based on assessment, we then do interventions,” she said.

“Our relationship with the Ministry of Education schools we serve is interdependent. They trust our service to support their learners, and we work diligently to maintain a quality relationship. We provide educational services as well as other screenings at no cost to their families.”

Bain said EEO’s focus is on literacy development as so much of learning is rooted in the core skill. To support the growth, she said their students also have access to vision, auditory and neurological screenings to help them rule out other factors impacting students’ ability to grasp different concepts.

EEO currently has nine centers on Eleuthera and Harbour Island with 197 students receiving interventions and another 47 supported and monitored because they have met the reading success benchmark.

Over the years, EEO has enrolled and supported a student population that has reached up to 250 students.

Student enrollment is from primary through high school.

“We serve the gamut of students,” said Bain. “Our limitation in increasing the volume of students served is the ability to put at least one EEO Center in every school on Eleuthera.”

Believing that every child should be given learning opportunities to reach their full potential EEO, founded in 1999, and directed by Lang Hudepohl, has a mission to provide special education and literacy outreach programs to students and their communities in Eleuthera, Harbour Island and Spanish Wells.

Hudephol who lived on Harbour Island, recognized the need for learning support so students have the best opportunities, as not all schools have learning support to access learning at the same level.

Hudepohl was passionate about creating a sustainable and impactful program which centers each student as the main character of their educational story.

“It is remarkable to see the strides in confidence and motivation which happens when the students are able to get individualized instruction,” said Hudepohl. “Their world opens up when they learn to read and believe in themselves.”

The project’s vision for the islands is to ensure that children with special needs have access to innovative educational programs to help them reach their full academic and personal potential.

Collaborating with Bahamian and American educational organizations, EEO strives to equip teachers, parents and volunteers with skills and materials to assess students and remediate learning challenges. The efforts they say will result in a resourceful, student-supportive, sustainable education system for Eleuthera.

The program currently maintains nine EEO Centers and exists in partnership with Ministry of Education schools across the island. EEO teachers deliver reading and learning support services to students enrolled at the EEO Centers.

Intense reading interventions using a multisensory approach isn’t the only service that EEO provides for its students. Students also benefit from vision, auditory and neurological screenings to identify any obstacles which hamper achieving maximum personal and academic success. EEO also facilitates community awareness, education and capacity development for exceptional education through year-round workshops for teachers, parents and families.

EEO’s special outreach and literacy development program which has created a base model for special education intervention in the family islands was launched under a shade tree at a picnic table in the playground at Harbour Island All Age School with only 15 students.

EEO programs include individualized instruction, regular auditory and visual screenings, therapist evaluations, parent workshops and a teacher seminar series which builds understanding of learning differences and how communities can help children reach their full potential

Since its founding, EEO has helped more than 2,000 children.

EEO is a donor-funded program. It is through sponsorship, partnerships and contributions of donors with a passion for education that the program has been able to grow and expand over the past years.

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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