New school helps girl blossom’
A Bermuda Centre for Creative Learning pupil said the school was like “home”.
Kelsey De Silva, 15, said the learning environment helped her succeed since she started at the school when it opened three years ago.
Tamara De Silva, Kelsey’s mother, said she was not interested in school at the time and her self-esteem was low. Throughout primary school, Kelsey struggled and was later diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia.
She said: “I knew I was learning differently and I didn’t like that everyone was a lot further ahead than me.”
Kelsey’s mother was also struggling with health problems and was overwhelmed with the challenges her daughter was having at school.
She said: “It was a struggle to find anyone that could help us, and I couldn’t believe how sad my daughter was.”
Through tutors, the family was introduced to a new school that was opening for children with learning difficulties.
Ms De Silva said: “I was so hopeful. The day I met with the team at BCCL was the first time that the roller coaster of Kelsey’s dyslexia diagnosis seemed doable. They listened to my story, shared theirs and their vision for a school to help my daughter and others like her.”
Things started to look up for Kelsey during her first year at BCCL.
Kelsey said: “It was homey. It was small and everyone could get the help they needed. Because it isn’t a big school, everyone feels like they are important.”
Ms De Silva said Kelsey had “blossomed” at the school.
She added: “It has been such a change from then to now. When she started at BCCL she was sad and nervous to have to be with another set of children that may not understand her.
“She has gone from being unsure and insecure to someone that is willing to try. She has found her voice and loves to be helpful — and right.”
Kelsey said that, instead of finding an environment where her learning difficulties were misunderstood, she found others similar to her.
She added: “The people here, they feel like my family because they take care of me and I take care of them and we all have the same things going on.”
Cindy Corday, BCCL co-founder, said that many children who are in educational settings without proper support learnt to survive by developing coping skills. Behaviour such as acting out and disruption of the flow of lessons disguised their learning challenges.
Ms Corday explained that when the cycle continued it affected a child’s self-esteem and other pupils felt it as well.
She said: “Kelsey came to BCCL with coping mechanisms to help her avoid doing school work and, most importantly, she was anxious that she was not able to read at grade level.
“With consistent guidance from her teachers and ensuring that she had speech and language therapy built into her personalised learning programme, Kelsey’s personality and overall feelings towards school changed dramatically.”
Kelsey said her favourite subject is maths because she “can understand numbers”, although she has also found a love for comic books, particularly Marvel Comics. Ms De Silva said: “The children have a safe environment that lets them find their voice and feel comfortable to express themselves.”
Kelsey lists her biggest accomplishments since starting at BCCL as conquering chapter books, having the confidence to speak in front of groups and being more emphatic towards her peers. Outside of school she enjoys playing hockey and volleyball and working on her community service project for the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
BCCL follows the UK National Curriculum, as well as the project-based International Primary and Middle Years Curriculum. Students work at their own academic level in a personalised learning programme.
BCCL has moved into a new purpose-built site at Cedar House, on Cedar Avenue in Hamilton to expand their pupil numbers.
For more information, visit www.bccl.bm.
• Robyn Bardgett is a media communications consultant working with the Bermuda Centre for Creative Learning
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