As learning environments around the country continue to adapt virtually due to the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, educators and administrators alike are struggling to provide students with the best possible learning advantages. Recently, the students of the Louise McDonald High School, on the island of Bimini, were given the opportunity to join that digital age courtesy of one of the country’s leading independent marine pilot firms, Independent Maritime Services (IMS).
Since becoming licensed by the Ministry of Transport and the Port Department of The Bahamas to operate and pilot vessels in the Greater Bimini Area, including Ocean Cay, the company and its team of trained and qualified pilots have made it their goal to make a difference in and around the surrounding communities.
As part of that effort, the company donated 15 new tablets to the school, giving the students access to the tools needed to prepare them for life in a technology-driven society.
“Since the very beginning, IMS has worked along with civil society, the church, and other non-profits to give back where there was a need,” explained IMS President and Chief Pilot, Kendall Williamson. “This time, we wanted to do something that would positively impact future generations and make access to digital learning easier, as well as safer for students who cannot come to school due to COVID-19 illness with them or their family.”
Williamson was the guest speaker at a special ceremony held at the school’s campus to mark the donation and encourage young Biminites to consider the Marine Industry once graduating high school.
Since 2015 IMS, from its base of operations on Grand Bahama Island, has provided Pilotage services in addition to a slew of other maritime industry services such as STS (lightering)and Special Operations on the anchorage of Grand Bahama. To date, IMS has also provided Pilotage services to vessels in Eleuthera, San Salvador, Long Island, as well as Bimini. Now, the company’s president is looking to the future and anticipates rapid industry growth.
“Part of our mandate as a company is to facilitate the continued growth of the sector and create opportunities for future generations of qualified maritime industry professionals,” explained Williamson. “I was especially pleased to speak with the 11th and 12th grade students about career opportunities awaiting them in the maritime industry.”
“Shipping is essential to Biminites, because 99 percent of the goods imported to the island come by ship” he explained. “More often than not, persons have little to no idea about the varied jobs available to them from Deck Officers, Engineers, Marine Inspection, to Maritime Lawyers, to Naval Architecture and so our hope is that we are able to spark that interest in young Bahamians at an early age and guide them toward having successful careers in the maritime industry.”
On hand for the ceremony was school principal Demetrius Wildgoose as well as the Island Administrator Deidre Fox and Chief Councilor Robbie Smith, who all heralded the donation as welcome and timely.
“We are always elated when the business community makes an effort to engage with the wider public,” said Administrator Fox. “IMS is to be commended for stepping up in this way even as we continue to deal with the impact of COVID-19 on our island our country.” The donation of 15 tablets will go a long way in helping students engage with their course material at a deeper level, a perk which according to Principal Wildgoose, is the icing on the cake. “Now more than ever our students need access to digital learning tools, they need to be prepared for the world as we know it and we are proud to make an investment in our young Biminites.”