When teacher Courtnee Benjamin-Roberts and her colleague Thalia Perez-Ginevra decided in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to leave their full-time jobs at a private school to open Premier Educational Solutions (PES), they never could have imagined the possibilities that would have emerged.
Benjamin-Roberts and Perez-Ginerva did not make the decision without context and contemplation. In March 2019, the closure of schools in The Bahamas because of the coronavirus pandemic left a gaping hole in the education system that still has lingering effects today. Both teachers noticed that there was a disconnect between students mastering the technology to be online but experiencing learning gaps due to not having that in-person touch and guidance by a teacher. Some other causes for the gaps included lack of focus from concentrated time on the device and distractions from being on social media apps.
“We were aware that all partners in education – students, parents and teachers – were affected in some way and still are,” said Benjamin-Roberts, PES founder. “You had students either not having consistent access to the technology, not being on task as parents had to work, teachers having to quickly adapt lessons and their teaching style to online learning, and the list goes on. So, my partner and I wanted to bridge that gap while taking into consideration that the educational landscape has changed.”
On the heels of their one-year anniversary, both have reflected that their hybrid approach is being accepted worldwide. Students have found that being in an accredited online high school has allowed them to work at their own pace and catch up on concepts missed when traditional schools went online. Additionally, these students benefit from coming to a physical center and being guided by qualified teachers.
“PES is an alternative option to traditional school where we assist and guide our students who are enrolled in an accredited online high school,” said Perez-Ginevra, educational consultant and teacher. “PES is for the student who is an out-of-the-box thinker, flexible, willing to learn and motivated.”
The steps to attending PES are simple. Parents or guardians go in for a consultation; based on the child’s academic and social needs, Benjamin-Roberts and Perez-Ginevra recommend a short list of the best accredited American or Canadian schools in which the parents wish for their child to be enrolled. Once a decision has been made, a transcript is sent off for grade and course placement. Applications and payment are made to the school and the journey begins. Students go to the center and are guided by Benjamin-Roberts and Perez-Ginevra who assist with breakout sessions to explain lessons or teach a concept, so the child understands the assignment if they need the assistance. Their center fee is a separate fee from the child’s online school.
“We are English, English literature and history teachers by profession with a combined 20-plus years of experience,” said Benjamin-Roberts of her and her colleague. “So, we do have an excellent math teacher and a standby science teacher who come in to work in the other subject areas as needed. Perez-Ginevra is a native Spanish speaker, so she also assists with helping students who take Spanish.”
“We liaise with the child’s teachers and provide updates to parents on their child’s progress although they have the access themselves. And basically, we ensure that their child has the tools to succeed in order to move forward,” said Perez-Ginevra.
According to the duo, students graduate with a recognized diploma from their institution once completing their 12th-grade year. At their current space, located in the Airport Industrial Park, PES can hold up to 20 students. The day is 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. After center hours, both teachers tutor students in the afternoon. Perez-Ginevera, who is also a trained guidance counselor and past external exam coordinator, also offers college advising services.
The educators said they realize that there is something for everyone and they are committed to their students who deserve a second chance or have adapted to a unique educational environment where online learning meets in-person learning.
“I believe that you have to know your child and know what is the best fit for him or her. Traditional schools work and so does homeschool and, in our case, homeschooling with a twist,” said Benjamin Roberts.
For more information, check out peducationalsolutions.org or call 577-8248. PES is also found on Facebook and Instagram.