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The smell of fresh office supplies and school uniforms fills the air as TIS is almost back in session

August 3, 2023
By Sheila Evans

The Island School is at full capacity this year, as 60 students will start school on Thursday, Aug. 10. Head of School Christine Oliver is looking forward to a “normal” school year, free of pandemic or hurricane concerns. Classes will typically have 10 students in each grade level, with the “specials” teachers moving from class to class.

“I am pleased to announce that The Island School made impressive progress on our F.A.S.T. progress monitoring from PM1 to PM3 in both reading and math,” said Oliver. F.A.S.T. is the Florida Assessment of Student Thinking, instituted in 2022. The PM1 is testing done at the beginning of the school year, and PM3 is similar testing at the end of the year. 

“This accomplishment was achieved from the tremendous effort and hard work put forth by our students, teachers and staff,” she added. “As the new school year is beginning, our goal will be to continue and refine teaching to be successful for years to come. I am looking forward to working with staff to continue The Island School’s strong tradition of academic excellence and provide the best possible educational programs for all students.”

“Believe and Achieve” is the theme for this school year.

Among the good things happening is the inclusion of music, art, physical education and Spanish, all being taught on a regular schedule. Oliver said this is the first time in many years that all four programs will be offered to students. 

The “specials” teachers are the only new staff for this year’s programs. They include Mrs. Terry Hoffman, art teacher; Mrs. Amy Cyr, music teacher; and Kim Deins, who will continue to be the Spanish teacher. Physical education is still being handled by Lisa Truisi.

As in the past, The Island School will offer before- and after-school care for those attending the school. Special “Fun Days” will be offered for those days when classes are either shortened or not held because of professional development programs for staff. The Fun Days include a wide range of activities provided by professional staff. Registration and payment are due two weeks in advance of the Fun Day. 

Before-care is provided from 7:30 until 8:15 a.m. and includes tutoring help if requested. After-care will be available from 3 to 5:30 p.m. on regular class days. For costs and dates of the Fun Days, and before- and after-care, contact the school or check its website at 

The annual “Meet the Teacher” Open House is set for August 8, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. 

“We are hoping for a great opening,” Oliver said. 

The annual “Yahoo/Boohoo” breakfast is planned for the first day of classes, August 10, at “drop-off time,” at 8:15 a.m. It will be held at the pavilion of the Boca Grande Community Center. There is a rumor that the Kona Ice Truck may be onsite that day, too, if the PTO has its way. 

Teachers will be preparing classrooms and programs during the pre-service week, August 2 to 9. The  PTO provided a breakfast on August 2 to welcome all teachers and staff back. Staff, themselves, had a potluck lunch on August 3.

The school will continue to participate in the STEM Crunch Labs program this year, sponsored by Capt. Sandy Melvin’s Boca Grande Charities, Inc. 

STEM stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics” and often also includes an R for “reading” and an A for “arts” programs (STREAM, STEAM). The Boca Grande Charities program focuses on the math and science, but the school as a whole fosters the entire array of subjects to give the students a fully rounded approach to their education.

The Crunch Labs program provides monthly kits for students in third through fifth grade. These kits require the students to put a project together and take it apart again, learning as they work. In turn, these students present the same challenge to younger students, teaching them how to put the projects together. In the end, the older students also learn teaching and leadership skills, along with the math and science skills.

The community has continued to support the school in other ways, as well. A grant from the Boca Grande Woman’s Club has allowed the school to purchase new “smart” boards for use in the classrooms, and the Boca Grande Historical Society is funding a field trip for students to the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota during the first semester.  

Oliver said that traditional events, including the Chowder Dinner and Friendship Dance, are already on the schedule throughout the school year, so there will be many ways for the entire community to have a hand in the continuing support of The Island School.