COLE BAY–Teachers and pupils of the All Children’s Education (ACE) Foundation school were elated when NAGICO Insurances confirmed that the institution can continue to operate rent-free in its current location in Cole Bay for another year.
ACE school, which was founded by trade unionist and educator Claire Elshot, has been struggling for some time to obtain adequate funding to pay for a location after it was evicted from its previous site on L.B. Scott Road.
“We became aware of their plight when we were approached by Ms. Elshot and it was a no-brainer for us. We simply had to find a way to accommodate them because we could not sit by knowing that children would be unable to attend school,” NAGICO Insurances Managing Director Eric Ellis said.
“Our initial agreement was to allow the school to stay for a period of one year during which we would absorb the cost of rent and grant the administrators sufficient time to find an alternative and more permanent location. However, the last two years came with varied challenges for the ACE Foundation and so we continued to lend a helping hand.”
The ACE Foundation school provides education to a wide cross-section of children of varying nationalities ages 3-14. The school currently houses 55 students and seven teachers.
“We are extremely grateful and very appreciative to NAGICO, because we have been to the point where we literally had nowhere to have our school and I tried everything because I never ever want to have to tell these students and teachers that they have to go home because we have nowhere to keep our school,” Elshot said.
“So, the fact that NAGICO did not hesitate to allow us to have the building when we approached them, this is something I will be always grateful to them for. They have really come through for us.”
NAGICO Chief Strategy and Development Officer Kyria Ali met with the teachers and pupils during a site visit at the school and lauded the ACE team on the “remarkable work” they have been doing with the students.
“The ACE Foundation school has added and continues to add significant value to St. Maarten. They have shaped the lives of many. The teachers and administrators have created a safe and happy environment for the children to gather, learn and develop together.
“It was very nice to see that in addition to the academic lessons that are taught, invaluable life skills are also given attention by the teachers. No child is made to feel different or lesser than another. Respect and discipline are a focus of the school, which is spectacular.” said Ali.
The ACE school has been instrumental in securing placement for several pupils in secondary schools on the island. It facilitates pupils from kindergarten to grade six and is currently expanding to accommodate a day-care section. With this extended contract from NAGICO, ACE school will be able to stay at its current Cole Bay location for another year rent-free.