May 22, 2017

From May 12-15, 2017, ISLA Academy Phase 5 and 6 students climbed to the highest point in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte, in the central mountain range of the Dominican Republic.  They started their trip with a beautiful waterfall hike in Jarabacoa.  On Day 2, they entered the national park and climbed nine hours until reaching the base camp of La Compartición.

Waking up at 3:00 am on Day 3, the team began their final ascent to the peak, at 3,087 meters!  They returned to base camp that evening for dinner and celebration.  On the fourth and final day, the students descended another 6 hours before returning triumphantly to ISLA Academy that afternoon.  

Along the way, they saw unparalleled beauty.  More importantly, they learned about themselves and what it takes to overcome challenges.  We are all so proud of them!

April 3, 2017

ISLA Academy has recently welcomed Hazakyah Hardy-Dia to our team of talented teachers.  He is a longtime educator, with experience teaching sports, music, dance, drama, and English. 

Hazakyah Hardy-Dia is a published author, a founder of the Dominican Republic's leading organization of English teachers, and a world-record holding professional boxer.  Hazakyah has taught in this community for several years, in international schools and in his own boxing facility. 

Along with Mr. Jerome, Hazakyah will be handling the majority of the enrichment classes offered to our students. Please help us welcome him to ISLA Academy! To learn more about our international team of educators at ISLA Academy, please visit the website page here.

March 29, 2017

ISLA Academy is sponsoring a student writing competition and community initiative, Be the Change Challenge. An amount of US $1,000 will be awarded to the winning proposal for a project that positively impacts the local community.

In essay form, participants should describe their project, how it will benefit the community, and how they plan to get it started.

Proposals will be judged by an ISLA Academy committee based on the following criteria:

  • Viability of the project

  • Postive impact on community

  • Detailed budget of how the $1,000 will be spent (Total budget for project should be US $1,000 unless student can provide details on how additonal needed funding will be raised).

Submissions may be in English, Spanish, and French. A hard copy of the proposal should be submitted to the ISLA Academy office or sent digitally to


Due April 17

March 16, 2017

Christal Earle is an author & entrepreneur that believes in the limitless power of social change. In 2000, she co-founded an international youth empowerment humanitarian charity called Live Different. She has a podcast called "Finding Bravery" where she interviews innovative thinkers and communicators.

In an interview she speaks to Sean Bennett, Co-Founder and Director of ISLA Academy. Sean Bennett is an educator who is inspired to continue to shape the future. Sean and the ISLA Academy team are helping to shape a bigger vision of what education can look like in the 21st century.

In the episode, Sean talks about:

  • Shifting Your Own Narrative Around What’s Possible.

  • The value of Vision.

  • The journey that led him to start the first international, inquiry-based STEM school in the Dominican Republic.

  • The words of encouragement that he needed to continue when he was ready to give up on his dream of starting ISLA Academy.

January 23, 2017

A priority at ISLA Academy is providing high-quality, healthy food for our children.  It is very important that children receive the proper amount of calories and nutrients in order for them to function at their optimum level. Our lunch program is largely vegetarian (with the exception of fish procured locally, and one free-range chicken day per month), we provide a variety of tasty, well-balanced meals using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.  

Our new chef, Paola Mallen, is a Santo Domingo native with a passion for healthy, fresh, delicious food. After finishing her culinary arts degree, she relocated to Cabarete where she has worked at Cabarete gourmet restaurants Miró, and Tabüle. In addition to her work at ISLA Academy, she currently has a personal project called @freshfoodbymallen where she offers services as a personalized chef.

Chef Paola is a lover of fresh food, made from quality ingredients, and we are very excited to have her on our team. Check out her Instagram feed for snapshots of some of the tasty dishes she's prepared for ISLA academy so far!

In the Domincan Republic, there is an expression at mealtime, "Barriga llena, corazón contento"  which means  "Happy heart, full stomach".  

Photos by Olive Wang

January 20, 2017

At ISLA Academy, the New Year brought more opportunities for teacher collaboration across our campus. In January 2017, all of our teachers have spent time working with multiple classes. This creates consistency across the curriculum, encourages collaboration and connection, and gives our students a chance to experience the many talents of our entire teaching staff. 

When teachers have opportunities to collaborate and observe one another, a welcoming environment is created that places an emphasis on quality results and working together.  ISLA Academy offers progressive education on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic, with classes taught primarily in English, from Pre-School through High School. 

ISLA Academy has begun combining English classes with grades 1-3. We do this in level centers in order to teach more individually to the students. For example, some students work on phonics, some on guided reading, others work on reading comprehension and vocabulary. The students enjoy working in different groups and have been enthusiastic, reporting that it's "much more fun like this!".  Children learn more easily when they are happy and engaged with the process.

A recent article in the journal Stanford Social Innovation Reviewstated the following: “Teaching is not an isolated activity. If it’s going to be done well, it has to be done collaboratively over time. With collaboration, you are exposed to other teachers’ priorities and are better able to incorporate them to broaden your own approach in the classroom.” 

ISLA Academy is proud of the diversity our teachersprovide, with a wide variety of teaching experience, and nationalities. Their excellence and professionalism is the common thread, and our students benefit immensely from what they all have to offer. 

December 26, 2016

As we come to the close of our academic semester, we reflect on the highlights of our previous unit.  It has been a unique and challenging time for our community as we faced difficult weather conditions that impacted everyone.  In spite of it all, we were able to achieve and participate in many great events. The rainy months of October and November gave way to glorious sunshine and blue skies in December, and we made the most of it!

Student Activities

Student elections were held this unit.  Candidates gave their campaign speeches, learned about the electoral process, and were chosen to represent their classmates. Students also designed and built a new compost system for our food waste and garden. Members of the Yearbook Committee started development.

As we like to stay active and engage with our community and environment, all students participated in a beach cleanup at nearby Playa Laguna.  Our students worked together to make a big impact, picking up a lot of trash and plastic in one outing. Students collected recycled materials and built a Christmas tree from the materials with Miss Arianny.  It was a lot of work, but our tree looks amazing (and so does the beach)! Students also organized a bake sale to raise funds for flood victims.

Holiday Fair

Our Holiday Fair on December 10 got everyone in the holiday spirit with some good old fashioned family fun. The free Holiday extravaganza was open to the public, and included such fun activities as a Visit and Photo with Santa, Reindeer rides, Face painting, Sean in the stocks, Elf hunt, Sack races, Holiday photo booth, Santa's mailbox, Cookie swap, Upcycled craft stalls, Holiday basket raffle and more! It was an event to remember, and we’re so pleased to have been able to celebrate the holiday spirit together.

Guest Lecture Series

During the months of November and December, we had a terrific lecture series (see November Happenings for additional guests). Some highlights include:

A Guest presentation from Sandra Weber, owner of Claro Café in Cabarete, who spoke to us about making choices to reduce her business's environmental impact on the community.

Guest lecture and science presentation from Dianna Cowern, AKA Physics Girl.  She is a popular YouTube science personality, and spoke about how she does research and plans her many projects.  She was joined by a mechanical engineer who discussed the design process with our students.

Guest lecture from Letti Pascuito, owner of Kana Rapai recycled art center.  She taught our students about creative art using upcycling.

Guest cooking classes from local chef Paola and ISLA parent Odile Horjus.

Guest yoga instructor, Ms. Gabi joined us weekly to teach students of all ages about yoga.

Student Field Trips

ISLA Academy students had the opportunity to venture out into the community and learn about a variety of topics and engage with interesting people, doing interesting things, and help where needed. Our field trips related to topics being investigated on campus, so it was a wonderful opportunity to see ideas in action. 

Field trip to the Mariposa Foundation to meet international muralist Xaivier Ringer.  She spoke to us about the impact that art can have on affecting social change in a community.

A field trip to the circus at Extreme Hotel to learn acrobatic techniques, expand our comfort zone by trying out the flying trapeze and build class unity.

Sosua Bay field trip to participate in standup paddleboarding with Pauhana Academy.

Multiple trips to the communities of Maranatha, Sosua Abajo, and La Cienaga to deliver food, mosquito nets, rain boots, and clothing to the victims of the flooding.  These items were collected, organized, and distributed by students, parents, and teachers.

A visit to Charlie's Foundation in La Cienaga to deliver items to the children sleeping there temporarily due to the flooding of their village.  Several of our students also went later to play games and sing songs with the children. 

Field trip to a Fedujazz event to participate in a music workshop with musicians from the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival.

ISLA Academy is grateful to all of the friends we have made in the community that have made us feel so welcome, and have embraced our students. 

Amazing!  Thanks to all of the people that helped to enrich the learning experiences of our students, from the guest presenters to the parents that organized the events or provided transportation.  Here's to another great term at ISLA Academy.

December 15, 2016

ISLA Academy held Presentation Day for the second Unit of Inquiry on Thursday, December 1.  Students presented their learning and project development from the previous six weeks to their families and the community. Representative work was chosen from each grade level, and was on display around the school with teachers and students offering their unit projects for discussion.

Highlights included a performance by Phase 1 about feelings, a multimedia presentation by Phase 2 on Simple and Compound Machines (complete with a video, song and hand-made functioning objects), individual presentations from students in Phase 3 on such topics as Assembly Lines & Effective Systems, and presentations from students in Phases 4-6 that included endangered species such as the Panda, Rhino and Shark, the importance of upcycling & recycling,  and an innovative game board contrasting science and religion.

The campus buzzed with excitement as the gathering at ISLA Academy provided an opportunity for families to share in the enjoyment of their children’s education. Presentation Day takes place on the final week of each Unit of Inquiry, and is a dynamic and engaging opportunity for parents to learn more about the day to day studies and projects of all the students.

More about ISLA Academy

ISLA Academy offers high-quality education for PreK to Grade 12 at their campus located in Cabarete-Sosua on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. ISLA Academy is a unique offering to the private, international schools of the Dominican Republic, providing a rigorous, inquiry-based curriculum taught primarily in English, with an experienced team of internationally certified teachers from eight different countries.

The inquiry-based approach to learning utilized by ISLA Academy connects with a child's natural curiosity, and creates a culture of investigation and active knowledge-seeking. This approach encourages students to be participants in their own education, and nurtures the love of life-long learning. 

November 26, 2016

November was an action packed month at ISLA Academy. We welcomed several important guest speakers, and led a fundraising and flood relief initiative for those affected by the heavy rains that have seriously impacted our island.

Guest Speakers: Just Give Charity, Hollywood Pro, Ocean & Animal Preservation Experts

Family members from the charity Just Give visited us, and we were happy to share time with Adonie, 11, and Lydia, 8. They are brother and sister, traveling the world with their family, and have raised 1 million US dollars to donate to charities worldwide. They gave us a presentation with their Mom, and were a true inspiration to the children at ISLA Academy.  To learn more, visit

Hollywood producer and cinematographer Zach Graber was in town for a reality television series filming in the area. He gave a cinematography workshop to our students in Phases 4-6, which was fascinating and exciting. Zach spoke about the art of filmmaking, the best techniques in filming to create different moods and effects, and other film industry insights.

Lidia Sophia, an Owl Expert gave students in Phases 1-4 a presentation about the Ashy-Faced owl that is indigenous to the Dominican Republic. She presented extensive information to the students, and they were allowed to safely handle Maku, the rescue owl. It was a terrific learning encounter for our students. Sadly, this breed of owl is endangered, and Lidia spoke about some of the reasons why, including the effects of human behavior connected to issues relating to the food chain (which ties in with our second line of inquiry at ISLA Academy).

Following this tutorial on owls, our Security Guard Francisco noticed something interesting in the garden, which led to further investigation and the discovery of an owl, high up in a tree at ISLA Academy. The students were buzzing with excitement about this sighting.

Dr. Gabriel Maldonado, a PhD Biologist, and former Director of the Liceo Cientifico School in Salcedo, Dominican Republic gave a 3-hour presentation to our students in Phases 5 -6 on parrot fish and their relation to coral reefs. It was an honor to host him as our guest, and our students learned a great deal about the ocean, and the importance of preservation efforts. The topic led to challenging questions by our students about the future of tourism in the Dominican Republic, and our responsibilities as World citizens.

November 21, 2016

A BIG THANK YOU TO EVERYONE! For all your hard work, support, time and positivity.

What a week it has been indeed! In total we have raised; RD$127,456  /  US$2760

Here is an update of what exactly our ISLA community has been doing since day one on Monday, the 14th in regards to community flood support:

-Day 1 – Students visit Maranatha to talk to locals affected by flash flooding.

-Day 2 – Donations of food, clothes, and money come from many friends. From Maranatha church we distributed 100 food parcels, 80 bags of clothes. We cooked a hot meal of sancocho and fed around about 150 people.

-Day 3 – More donations received. A team of us went to investigate La Cienega and discover what the locals were in need of. We met a local parish who agreed to let us use the church as a distribution centre.

-Day 4 – Even more donations come in! Mass brainstorming and research, we source mosquito nets, rubber boots and mattresses. Charlie's Foundation contact us for support and we donate them food to help feed the 29 children they are housing. A group of us return to Maranatha after further flash flooding to speak with locals and the church. In the evening we purchase mosquito nets and mattresses and deliver the 10 mattresses to the church in Maranatha.

-Day 5 – Once again many more donations! We purchase 100 boots. A local supermarket donates 100 cartoons of orange juice. People return to La Cienega to speak with locals again and arrange to use the church in the evening. We cooked a hot meal and served it along with the juice from the church, feeding around 150 people.

-Day 6 – Still receiving donations! 2 donated mattresses are taken to Maranatha along with a big bag of children’s clothes. A few of us working with some local figures to return to La Cienega to wade knee deep in water into the homes of locals and distribute tickets for boots, mosquito nets and food parcels. In the afternoon we distribute 100 boots, 50 mosquito nets, 43 bags of food. We give 2 boxes of food to Charlie's Foundation.

Without doubt this has been a great success and it has shown the power of people coming together and the efficiency of community action!

For more information on how you can help, please contact us:Tel. (809)

Donations can be made here:

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