Bermuda Centre for Creative Learning: It’s more than a school, it’s a lifeline for Julian

“The child I have today, is not the child I had even a year ago. He continues to amaze me as he continues to grow and want to become a better person.”

This coming from mother of one Nichole Shaw as she proudly describes her son, Julian, and the exponential growth he has experienced since becoming a student at the Bermuda Centre for Creative Learning (BCCL) almost two years ago.BCCL was founded in 2015, for students ages six and above who struggling in a traditional school setting. According to the school’s website, most of its students have been assessed and diagnosed with dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hypersensitivity Disorder (ADHD) or other language-based learning differences.

On Friday, the school will be holding its third annual February Freeze fundraiser—where students, teachers and members of the community (it’s not too late to participate!) dare to take the plunge at Admiralty House Beach at 10 am.

This year’s goal is to raise $10,000—monies which will assist in the funding of bursaries for students at the school. Over 50% of BCCL’s students receive bursaries. Without the financial assistance, in many cases, students would have to seek educational opportunities overseas in order to receive personalised instruction.

Nichole shares Julian’s educational journey, which has seen him attend a number of schools, exclusively with

“Julian was struggling to settle in school. Really, he has been struggling since nursery school. Teachers never really expressed concern academically, but, during these years, they described him as having no regard for authority, having severe emotional challenges, and he was displayed unsafe behaviours. During his school life so far, he has attended two different nurseries and two different primary schools.”

By the second half of his third year in primary school, Nichole shares that “he was in full shut down mode”.

It got to a point, she says where her son was experiencing meltdowns which often resulted in him having to be removed from his class, which meant he was missing out on learning. She says she knew she and his father had to find a solution that would benefit their son. They found one, but it turned out to be short-lived.

“We made it through that school year knowing something needed to change, so during that summer he began Occupational Therapy. Going into P4 we felt hopeful, because we had a plan, we had an Occupational Therapist, we were working well with the teachers and had a plan in place with the school educational therapist. We were hopeful, but, unfortunately, by November we were heading back down the same road as the previous year. He wasn’t coping, we were not coping and at this point we knew we had to do something different.”

In November 2020, Julian’s parents took the decision to explore the possibility of him attending

“Julian attended an experience week at the school in November 2020 and again in January 2021. Experience week, at BCCL is a week where the faculty allow an interested student to attend classes with peers to essentially see if the school can service the student’s needs. After Julian completed his experience week in January he did not return to his prior school. Although we were extremely stressed about this immediate financial burden, we had hoped this was the answer to all our problems. Now looking back, that was the best decision we could have made, but in January 2021 it got so much worse before it got better.”

Nichole shares that with the guidance and support from the staff at BCCL, she was able to communicate with insurance companies regarding Julian’s needs, along with having him receive a plethora of testing and access to services which ultimately helped to shed light on what was going on with him.

But it wasn’t a walk in the park.

“Once his sleep settled things seemed to slowly fall into place. But, at school, Julian had a hard time settling in daily. He was still having constant meltdowns, sometimes to the point I had to be called to pick him up from school. At this point we still didn’t have a diagnosis or even a complete picture of what was going on. But in April 2020, Julian was diagnosed with ADHD, predominately hyper/impulsive presentation. He also has sensory challenges that were noted previously where we were trying different methods to help him self-regulate,” Nichole shares.

“I can go on for hours about the many bumps we have had, but fast forward to today, he is doing really well.”

“I get mostly positive phone calls from the school, or the odd message he is coming home with a tooth in his bag! He still loses control at times, but 10-year-old Julian can now step back take a thought and take a better decision.

“If that isn’t possible, his teachers are able to diffuse [the situation] and bring him back where he can self-regulate and resettle. We just had an end of year meeting and listening to how the teachers commended his efforts, and they recognised his improvements just confirmed that we did make the right choice back in 2021.”

Julian agrees with his mom. He shares his experience at BCCL: “It’s been pretty good, but I have been through some ups and downs. I had a hard time getting along with people at first but now I have made some really good friends. At first I was nervous and uncomfortable because I didn’t know many people, but now I’m fitting in perfectly.”

And what does he love most about school?

“It has a lot of air conditioners. I like the uniform; the jacket is really comfortable and not itchy. A lot of the teachers are really nice. We get electronic time where I like to play games like crosswords and solitaire. I like that we move to different areas for different classes like maths and english. We are keeping our body active. We also get gym every day and I don’t have to wear school shoes. I can be comfortable. We also get to pet and walk dogs that come to visit the school. My favourite part of the school is my Math teacher Ms. Val. She is so Fun!”

Whether your child is a student at the school or not, Nichole encourages members of the community to support the February Freeze.

“Fundraisers like these are so important, because the funds are being used to assist in the educating the children of today, who will become adults of tomorrow. Personally, as much as I would love to say Julian is in this school because I can afford to and I just wanted to put him there, I can’t. I would be lying. It’s a struggle. Actually, it’s a sacrifice and has been since day one.

“The need to put him there became so great we didn’t think of anything else other than to save our son, and that is what we did. BCCL’s mission is to empower students by providing a personalised and flexible learning environment that focuses on students’ social, emotional, and academic needs. From my experience, they live up to this. While the community may look at this school as a private school, which it is, it is different in that most of the children who attend are there because there is a need, not necessarily a want.

“Providing all of these services is costly, but necessary. Learning different shouldn’t hinder a child’s chance to be successful and BCCL gives these students a chance.”

The rain date for February Freeze is Friday, 24 February at 10 am at Admiralty House Beach.

If you would like to make a donation towards the February Freeze, you can do so by making a deposit to:

Bermuda Creative Learning Centre
Clarien Bank
Acct # 6000191310


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