About Friends of Ocean Academy - Our Organization History
Friends of Ocean Academy (FOOA) board members, Monty and Kathy Curry, discovered Ocean Academy while on a bike ride touring the island of Caye Caulker after a business trip to Belize City. Recognizing the need for a 501(c)3 tax exempt entity to facilitate donations from US citizens and foundations, Friends of Ocean Academy was established with the collected efforts of many individuals who have either visited the school or simply became aware of the vision for Ocean Academy.
Start-up efforts were begun in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but broad support for the objectives of Friends of Ocean Academy have been contributed across Oklahoma, Texas, and Belize. As a tax advantaged entity for donations and a focus of involved members, FOOA will provide financial support for facility expansion and ongoing operating costs. Contributions from the FOOA board as well as a generous contribution from the Ben and Bonnie Walkingstick Foundation have underwritten all start-up cost for FOOA, enabling additional contributions to directly benefit Ocean Academy.
The mission of Friends of Ocean Academy is to secure the future of Ocean Academy by providing financial stability and support, ensuring a high school education for the children of Caye Caulker, Belize. The overriding goal of the organization is to leverage its resources to achieve this mission.
About Ocean Academy
Before Ocean Academy's opening, education for the children of Caye Caulker ended at primary school. Just a few privileged families could finance the daily commute to mainland high schools. Young students had to travel alone and navigate the capital city’s streets, or leave their families to board on the mainland. Parents were desperate for safe and equitable access to high-school education.
In response to this need, Ocean Academy was founded in February of 2008 by American, Heidi Curry, and Canadian teacher, Joni Miller. Dane Dingerson, a real estate investor and windsurfer, provided land for the school and financed it's construction, and Belizean-American, Desi Rosado, provided the school's start-up costs.
The vision of the school is to create an environment where students are welcome to come and learn, regardless of their previous academic achievement or socioeconomic status. Classes include basic subjects like math and science and English, as well as interdisciplinary subjects tailored to the locale. Ocean Academy has received national and international recognition for their scuba diving, kayaking, fly-fishing, windsurfing and marine biology electives. These programs serve many purposes, including attracting and retaining non-traditional students, preparing students for high-paying local jobs, providing physical education (PE), and building student self esteem. The school also offers an apprenticeship program in photography, office skills, masonry and business.
With a very limited budget provided by the Belizean government, Ocean Academy relies almost entirely on donations.