Destination Imagination Thriving at St. Croix Country Day School

By: Tina Shaffer

Typically as an adult arriving to work and opening your e-mail is a routine event that can be less than exciting.  I consider myself lucky because often when I open my e-mail I find inquiries from far off places wondering how they can bring Destination Imagination (DI) to that country. Sometimes these e-mails are from parents or teachers who have been involved in the program and relocated, other times students themselves reach out, or an interested party stumbles across our website and wants to know more.

Over a year ago Kathleen Graham, a teacher and former Team Manager and Appraiser from New Hampshire, e-mailed me with interest in starting DI teams in St. Croix, a US Virgin Island in the Caribbean. Taking initiative to pioneer the program within her school, she took on the role of Team Manager for two Middle Level teams. Both teams travelled to Global Finals to compete; their first time at a DI Tournament and Mrs. Graham’s first time at Global Finals.

Using the prior year’s success and rave reviews from students, Mrs. Graham and Denise Blanchette, Dean of Middle and Lower Schools, decided to take on the initiative to introduce the program school wide at the St. Croix Country Day School. In late August I was privileged to pack my bags and land in the beautiful Caribbean for the first time to introduce the program to twenty-five parents and teachers. 

Wasting no time, the adult attendees jumped into our Stack ‘Em Up Challenge, and kick-started their communication and collaboration skills. Everyone at the training embraced the program and took part without hesitation in various Instant Challenge activities. After an intensive two day overview of the program twenty-five students ranging from first grade to seventh grade were brought in for an afternoon of DI fun facilitated by the parents and teachers.  Like most children, the students were eager to solve the tasks at hand and were able to manipulate the materials given to solve each Challenge successfully. After their first Challenge, creating a device to hold a ball that would move down a zip line, they attacked the following Challenges with a new confidence and a fresh perspective.

I left St.Croix re-energized and excited about the season ahead thanks to all the training participants. The parents and teachers were energetic, confident, and embraced the pillars of the DI program throughout the entire training. I am confident that with the leadership and support of the program at the St. Croix Country Day School, Destination Imagination will thrive this year and years to follow beyond the island of St. Croix. It only takes one person with a passion for the program to plant the DI seed in a new place – whether near or far – and there is no better example of this than the recent developments in St.Croix.

Parents and teachers participate in a DI Instant Challenge. 

Students test some of DI's favorite Instant Challenge materials. 

Students from the St.Croix Country Day School.