Charlotte Brookson Academy hosts Staff Retreat 

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PHILIPSBURG – The Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performance Arts recently concluded its retreat on April 18.

The 14 members of the board, management and staff gathered at the conference room of the Simpson Bay Resort. The purpose of the retreat was to re-establish a common understanding of the CBA vision and the school development plan, strengthen a collective understanding of how the vision will be implemented, monitored and evaluated and to identify strategic personal and professional development plans for the staff.

The turbulent process of moving to the new location, and in preparation for the upcoming school year and getting approval for the future focus of the school, management and staff felt it opportune to get together in a conducive environment to reflect on the immediate past, the successes, challenges and opportunities for the future of CBA.

The sessions were facilitated by independent consultant Marjan de Visser and assisted by Human Resources and Finance Manager Hiro Shigemoto and Innovations Coordinator Okama Ekpe Brook. “Through the appreciative inquiry process, the sessions included a visioning exercise that addressed questions related to where we are right now in the school’s programs and processes, where we want to be in five years’ time, how we are planning to get there as a well-oiled machine, what each of us can do individually and collectively and how we can support each other and monitor our progress,” a release said.

This dialogue process led to an agreement that the key implementation focus is to create a balance between a strong academic program with a creative art perspective. This will take into consideration recommendations of the Inspectorate of Education, which recently concluded a positive evaluation of the school’s performance and approved for the school to operate henceforth as a regular high school. Through this approval, and although the written memo is yet to be received, CBA will have the freedom to operate according to its original vision.

It will no longer be an experimental school that has suffered a lot from scrutiny and tedious regulatory procedures and even threat of closure. As such, the staff were informed that the emphasis will now be placed on a balanced curriculum with the appropriate number of subjects required for CXC graduation and the performing arts.

The school has also recently introduced a sports program with the creation of volleyball, soccer, track and field and swimming teams. Efforts are underway for baseball, cricket and basketball teams. Accordingly, emphasis will be placed on short-term goals including having its own building, setting up a functional parents-teachers association, student council body, mobilizing financial and human resources, revitalizing the public image, recognizable brand and expanding on its strategic partnerships.

“The vision of the school is to foster and promote within our students, strong independent and critical thinking skills in a creative way. By developing a challenging, yet positive and self-empowerment learning environment that links all creative arts subjects and the core academic subjects, we aim to provide high quality standard educational programs for students. This will utilize a holistic approach in learning, assisting our students to develop academically and artistically, encouraging and teaching our students to work in a creative, innovative, collaborative and cooperative manner. This will in turn prepare them socially, emotionally, and physically, so when they complete school they are responsible and creative adults. With the inclusion of technology we can unlock and develop the highest potential within the student. Our overall goal is for our students to have the option to pursue further education and self-development in either the academics or the arts at a four-year higher learning institution,” the release stated.

The way to achieve this vision is through a well-structured, strongly supported and innovative academic programs anchored in a well-defined curriculum, increased/intensified performances, sports teams, parents-academy, quality teaching, management and student community. Funding, communications and public relations will be critical aspects in this reignited CBA pathways.

The staff were also reminded about the vision behind CBA’s formation where the pioneer strongly believed in a consciousness based approach to the holistic development of the student. In this, she promoted the concept of ‘Kindness Thursday’ which will be immediately reintroduced in the school.

It was such a great learning and sharing environment that all the participants agreed to try and do it at least 2-3 times per year. This will also serve as opportunities for checking and monitoring the progress on the actions. A clear outcome of the retreat was therefore to put all hands on deck to realize some of the goals in the short-term.

On behalf of the CBA board, management and staff, Director Claudette Forsythe-Labega thanked management of the Simpson Bay Resort for sponsoring the use of the conference facilities, and particularly La Patrona restaurant for the sumptuous lunch provided in the beautiful ambience of their new location on the beach front.

The Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performance Arts is a high school program established in 2012 on St. Maarten. They offer a full-day program starting at 7:30am with Academic classes and Performance arts classes (Music, Theater Arts, Visual Arts, Physical Education and Dance) beginning at 2:30pm until 4:15pm from Monday to Friday.

They are located at the Former Government Administration Building, Clem Labega Square in Philipsburg.  For more information visit: www.charlottebrooksonacademy.org, email: charlottebrooksonacademy@gmail.com, call: phone: +1 (721) 542-1229, 523-8999 Monday to Friday from: 8:00am-4:00pm. They are also on Facebook: Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performance Arts.