Best of Eleuthera – Centre for Exceptional Learners

The Centre for Exceptional Learners in Governors Harbour is in the spotlight this week in my Best of Eleuthera series.


Centre for Exceptional Learners Governors Harbour
Centre for Exceptional Learners Governors Harbour

Situated on the left hand side of the up hill in Governors Harbour it has been open since 2003 and Mr William Holland has been the principal there since  2004. He is trained as a special educational needs teacher and worked for 4 years at the Stapleton School in Nassau. He then worked for many years teaching in mainstream education in North Eleuthera before taking up his post here in Governors Harbour.

Principal Mr William Holland
Principal Mr William Holland

Mrs Dolly Petty has been his voluntary classroom assistant there since the school first opened and Mr Tony Crean teaches games and physical exercise every Tuesday.

Mrs Dolly Petty with students and visiting special needs teacher trainees
Mrs Dolly Petty with students and visiting special needs teacher trainees

Many of you will know already that I teach the children an hour of yoga and meditation every Monday – and have done for the last 3 years.

Students in the weekly yoga class
Students in the weekly yoga class

There are currently 11 children attending the school ranging in age from 6 to sixteen, they take a maximum of 12 or occasionally 13 children at any one time.

The range of learning needs that the children have varies widely – it includes mental handicap, autistic tendencies, dyslexia, developmental speech problems, ADHD and behavioral problems. Some of the children are there as an intervention in their mainstream schooling while others are longterm students there for their educational career.

The school which is run by the Ministry of Education focuses on social development and where necessary language development. All the students are encouraged to learn so that they can reach their own best potential and contribute to the community. Sometimes this means concentrating on their basic reading and writing skills but on many occasions it is much more basic – learning how to dress themselves, controlling aggressive behavior, learning to share and to get along with each other.

Students visit the Haynes Library once a week, they go shopping , they learn about road safety, perform simple errands and basic household chores.

This years students with Mrs Dolly Petty and Principal Mr William Holland
This years students with Mrs Dolly Petty and Principal Mr William Holland

The school with it’s own needs does need to attract benefactors – recently The Eleuthera Bible Training Centre provided a basketball court – they provided all the labour on a voluntary basis – the only thing the school paid for was cement.

The Rotary Club of Eleuthera under the aegis of President Julian Carey have donated a washing machine so that the children can learn basic household tasks along with several other items from their wish list.

As a result of one of the flea market sales held in Governors Harbour money was raised to build a much needed shelving unit to divide up 2 of the rooms.

At Christmas many of the children only receive the gifts they are given at school – again the Rotary Club and the Police Force generously donate gifts for them.

Teacher trainees from Westchester University with students
Teacher trainees from Westchester University with students

Coming up in early May are the Special Olympics – held in Nassau over a long weekend – which both children and adults with special needs attend. It is a fun and important event for the children – they get to fly to Nassau and stay there – competing in the sporting events as well as doing things they rarely if ever do – eating out, going bowling – mixing with lots of other people and of course here comes the crunch !!

If you feel that you could donate something towards this cause then please contact either me or Mr Bill Holland directly at the school on 242 332 3240 – any amount – large or small would be welcome and would be put to the best use for these very needy children

Note the phone number !
Note the phone number !

Watch out soon for pictures of the Easter Break pizza party that Bob and I will be treating the children to on April 1st at Tippy’s ……..



16 thoughts on “Best of Eleuthera – Centre for Exceptional Learners”

  1. I have so often wondered about the school. Thank you for telling us about it and the exceptional teachers and students. My husband and I support the Zion Home but would like to contribute to the school. Who do we contact about making a contribution. Maybe you have an email address. Thanks again for the article.
    Shirley Pool
    p.s. I meet you at Sky Beach one day in January having lunch.

    1. Bob and Kathy Colman

      How lovely to hear from you and a contribution would be wonderful.Thank you so much. I am sending you both the phone number for the school as well as Mr Holland’s email address. Hope to see you back again soon….. Kind regards to both you and your husband.

  2. Suzanne Clune -Taylor

    Kathy, wonderful story on the exceptional learners. I am retired now but worked for 25 years as special education teacher with children with downs , autism, ADHD, fetal alcohol syndrome.
    It is tiring work , the rewards are great when you see the student accomplish one small goal that would be a normal for oother children.
    Other classroom teachers in the school seemed to forget our students had needs and goals although smaller just as important to them.
    When in Eleuthera last year our rental was in Rock Sound as this was my husbands birth place. I met teachers from the local high school. They wanted to know what they could do with their students with autism at that level as most days they just sat in a classroom with little to do. I mentioned the I Pads as a wonderful learning tool for them.
    However they said the computer situation so grim for the regular students they could never get the government to justify
    I Pads for these students.
    Perhaps that could be a goal for this special school. I was not aware of the school in Governor;’s Harbour.
    We did not travel to Eleuthera this year as my husband is pre dialysis. With the health care so restricted on the island it is too hard to take a chance. Hoping for next year. Never give up hoping. Will keep the school in mind for a next trip.
    It wonderful of yourself and Bob to bring attention to the school and feast them with an outing. It is a very difficult road for parents to walk caring for an exceptional child . Parents in Toronto get weary and they have support for government and financial aid. Families in the Bahamas are pretty alone nor is there an understanding of the disabilities. Bravo to you both.

    1. Bob and Kathy Colman

      What a lovely comment from you Suzanne. Actually the school here in GH has several computers and tablets that have been donated to them -they are a real godsend I know. So sorry that health issues are keeping you away from visiting the island but I understand completely. We have a small lunch party for the children and teachers every term, Easter, Summer and Christmas – it is always fun and entertaining. I am so thankful that I have found a way to do something – however small – to help these children in our community. Kindest regards to you both. Look out for some pictures from the Easter pizza party – we go on April 1st…..

  3. Hi Kathy,
    I really enjoyed your article on the Exceptional Learners’ Center in Governor’s Harbour. I drive by it every day and am always impressed with the level of activity there. It’s hard to quantify, but it always feels as though there’s a good vibe and lots of care. Please forward Mr. Holland’s email to me so Fred and I can contribute to the children’s trip to the Special Olympics in Nassau. My nephew has cerebral palsy and I understand the importance of a trip like this magnifies for a child with special needs.

    1. Bob and Kathy Colman

      You would need to contact the school directly – of course they are closed now for the Holidays. Their number is 332 3240

  4. Are you still looking for volunteer teachers? I’m retired with 30 years experience with ADHD, AUTISTIC SPECTRUM as well as SEMH (social, emotional and mental health) I taught boys who had a range of difficulties which prevented them from attending mainstream school.
    I have taught in the Bahamas at the beginning of the 80s. I have spent the majority of my career in the UK.
    Look forward to hearing from you.
    Many thanks
    Jan Turnbull

  5. My wife and I will be on island next week and would like to see if there are any supplies the school needs that we could bring? Pens, pencils, erases, markers, caulk, etc? Any specific things needed?

  6. Good Afternoon,

    My God Daughter is currently performing her student teaching at the school. Can you supply a mailing address so that I may send supplies directly to the school.



  7. I am an autism specialist and would love to speak with Mr. Holland. Do you have his current email address?

    1. Mr Holland has now retired sadly – he actually left the school in Governors Harbour about 3 years ago …… It is being run now under different teachers. We have some fabulous students who usually come twice a year – they are studying special needs at West Chester College and really make a huge difference in the school. How nice that you found the blog !

        1. They are closed at the moment as all schools are because of coronavirus. Their phone number is 242 332 3240

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Kathy Colman

Writer, Interior Designer, Foodie, and Wife to Bob. Living in Eleuthera, Bahamas

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