Alexis Douglas only Tobagonian finalist in CTO primary school writing competition

Alexis Douglas, a Standard 4 student at Tobago International Academy, earned first place in the national 8-10 year-old creative writing category of the 2017 Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Primary Schools writing competition. She is one of four national winners and the only winner from Tobago.

Alexis and the other national winners were honored at the Ministry of Tourism’s 2017 Junior Minister of Tourism Competition and Awards ceremony on Wednesday, July 12, at the Government Plaza Auditorium in Port of Spain.

“I was really surprised and happy to win a national award,” Alexis said. “I just wrote about how tourism adds value to my family and what we can do to help tourism and protect the environment in Tobago.”

Alexis continues in the CTO writing competition as one of three international finalists for her category, the other finalists hailing from St Eustatius and Montserrat. In total, only 12 international finalists were selected from the 28 CTO member countries.

“We are so proud of Alexis,” said Tobago International Academy President Laura Cotton. “To be the only winner from Tobago and one of only two from T&T to be selected as an international finalist is amazing.”

Alexis’ mother, Kerry-Ann Douglas, expressed special appreciation to Alexis’ teacher, Mr. Hamilton Davis.

“We are both honoured and humbled. This really couldn’t have been possible had it not been for Tobago International Academy and the dedication of Mr. Davis and his unwavering faith in Alexis.”

The Caribbean Tourism Organization will announce the final winners of the international writing competition soon. International winners will be presented with a special certificate of recognition from the Caribbean Tourism Organization and honoured with an all-expenses paid trip to attend and participate in special activities at a major CTO conference in 2017.

More information about the CTO writing competition can be found at

More information about Tobago International Academy may be found at

Alexis Douglas wins 1st in CTO Primary School Writing Competition

AlexisDouglasTIA Career day 7.2017We are so proud of Alexis Douglas, one our Standard 3 students, for winning first place in the Creative Writing 8-10 year-old category of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Primary Schools writing competition.  She wrote about the importance of sustainable tourism with ideas on how to do so. Read her essay here. —> Alexis Douglas CTO 2017.

And we must make mention of her teacher, Mr. Davis, too.

“I want to give a special thank you to Mr. Davis for always believing in Alexis’ ability,” said Kerry-Ann Douglas, Alexis’ mother.

Alexis and the three other national winners were honored at the Ministry of Tourism’s 2017 Junior Minister of Tourism Competition and Awards ceremony on Wednesday, July 12, at Government Plaza Auditorium, Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Alexis is the only winner from Tobago.

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Turning Negatives into Positives

Seeing their happy faces and hearing their cheerful chatter, you wouldn’t think the dozen children in the tidy schoolyard in Crown Point were left school-less and abandoned by their school principal just days before.

On March 1, 2017, the principal of Campbell’s Preparatory School, a private primary school in Bon Accord, Tobago, unexpectedly notified the school’s parents, students and teachers via a WhatsApp message of her indefinite departure from Tobago. The principal, Ms. Priscilla Campbell, had already left the country, removed essential items from the school, and made no provisions for the students or staff – forcing most into significant hardship. Parents lost thousands in tuition money, teachers were unpaid as their salary cheques bounced, and students had no school to which to return the next day.

“Just like that, with no warning, 42 students were left with nothing in terms of a school,” said Alison DeFreitas, a parent of a student at Campbell’s. “We had to scramble to recover our children’s books from the school building, wonder where we would find places for our children in the middle of the term, and braced to outlay more money for new tuition, uniforms, and books. It is a terrible situation we were forced into.”

When the news hit about the school closure and Ms. Campbell’s actions, many people expressed concern about the young students and asked what happened to them. A few children filtered into schools that had space available, a small number went to private tutors, and some formed the first student body a new Academy – one created from the adversity.

A dozen parents quickly rallied together to secure the Campbell School’s teachers and organise a place for their children to continue their education with their beloved educators. After days of intense work and sacrifice of these parents, classes re-started for their children on Monday, March 6 at the new academy.

“When the shock subsided some of us realized we needed another option for our children’s education,” said DeFreitas, also one of the founding parents of the new academy. “We also recognised that we had incredible teachers who we, and our kids, love and respect. The long hours and dedication of this parent group and teachers to get our new building student-ready in just a few days was astounding. All work was done voluntarily in addition to everyone’s normal everyday jobs. But to see the kids happy on that Monday morning was worth every drop of sweat.”

The school building, a former daycare/preschool, was spruced up and equipped with items provided by the parents and a few sympathetic local companies. Teachers provide the curriculum and their own expertise. Parents volunteer their time in the office to support the teachers and students.

“The school is a great collaboration with the teachers and parents,” said Rain Schneider, a founding parent. “The students really are the focus of everything we do, which fosters a wonderful learning environment in which the children are thriving.”

The president of the school’s Steering Committee, Laura Cotton, indicated that they have already received interest from parents looking to register their children for upcoming terms and that they are encouraged by the response.

“We have started the process to formally register the school as Tobago International Academy,” said Cotton. “The mission is to continue to develop an educational experience with small student-to-teacher ratios for all grade levels, holistic learning opportunities and modern teaching tools. It’s exciting to be able to design a school that we want and that our children love, rather than to make ourselves fit into an institution.”

When asked about the road ahead and concerns about tuition cost Cotton said, “We had a lot of details to work out in the beginning but are happy to be able to offer the same tuition fees as we used to pay at Campbell’s. There still is a lot of work to do and we aren’t naïve to the challenges but our children are worth it. We appreciate of the understanding provided thus far by the Division of Education and look forward to growing Tobago International Academy into a stalwart academy for our island’s students.”

Tobago International Academy is located at Store Bay Feeder Road in Crown Point. The parents and teachers may be reached at