Our History

A Proud, Leading-edge Tradition

Our Founders

In 1996, Chris Maxey received the Joukowsky Fellowship from The Lawrenceville School where he was a teacher allowing him to work towards his Masters in Marine Resource Management at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami. During this year-long sabbatical, Chris began his research in sustainable aquaculture. He formed the US non-profit Cape Eleuthera Marine Conservation Project (now the Cape Eleuthera Foundation, Inc.) and began to set the framework to build a school and research station at Cape Eleuthera in The Bahamas — having visited the island many times at his parents home in Cotton Bay.

Prior to the founding of The Island School, Chris hosted student groups on Eleuthera. Some were middle school students from New York, others were from Eleuthera, and some camps were both. Lawrenceville teachers gathered in July 1998 at Cape Eleuthera to design The Island School curriculum at the first ‘teacher conference’ (now Educators Conference) — a tradition of experiential education technique practice and sharing that has continued each summer since.

On March 15, 1999 Pam and Chris Maxey welcomed 22 students and 6 faculty from Lawrenceville School to launch the first Island School Semester — an opportunity to share his research and engage students in a powerful, place-based educational experience. The organization grew rapidly in the following years, all the while staying true to the founding vision of education, research and conservation. Today, The Island School welcomes over 500 students each year ages 3 to PhD.

Chris and Pam Maxey remain intimately connected to the organization and own a home on Cape Eleuthera where they continue to explore and enjoy the Cape, host students and gatherings, and Chris regularly participates in run-swims and other community events on campus.

The Island School Stories

The Island School has a tradition of being at the front edge of education—since our first semester we have been committed to a progressive view of education that challenges students to work collaboratively, live responsibly, develop confidence, and approach tough problems with critical awareness and genuine resiliency.

Chris and Pam Maxey


Island School Through the Years

Chris and Pam Maxey host the first South Eleuthera Summer Camps for both local and US groups of students, known today as the Pioneer programs.


The idea of The Island School emerged when Chris Maxey began his Joukowsky Fellowship with Lawrenceville School and spent a sabbatical year working towards his Masters in Marine Resource Management at Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.


The Searle family, through the Kinship Foundation, supports aquaculture research at RSMAS and imagines how we might build a school connected to an ocean farm growing mutton snapper.


Cape Eleuthera Foundation is incorporated in the US to begin raising funds for The Island School.


The Cape Eleuthera Island School is officially incorporated as not-for-profit in The Bahamas.



The Devos family, who own land on the Cape and the Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marina on Powell Point donates land for The Island School campus.


Construction begins on campus, initially consisting of a dining hall, a dormitory, a faculty office and one residence.


The first Island School Semester launches with 22 students, 20 from Lawrenceville School.


The Island School opens the Deep Creek Middle School, established both as a means for providing a much needed resource (the closest middle school was 40 minutes away) to the community, sharing our educational model, and formalizing our relationship with the local students as Semester students engaged with Deep Creek youth and children.


Construction begins on Kinship Hall providing classroom/library space on the first floor and dormitory space on the second floor


The Island School hosts a Summit with special guest Dr. David Orr to dive deeply into topics of education, research, and conservation and dream about establishing the Cape Eleuthera Institute


Cape Eleuthera Institute opens, establishing a formal program for marine conservation research and sustainable development. At the opening, The Island School launches the first grid intertie in the Bahamas, integrating our renewable energy with the local power program.


The Island School welcomes the first Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholars (BESS) to the Semester, and goes on to formalize the program in partnership with BREEF, the Bahamas Reef Environmental Education Foundation to develop a lasting program for Bahamian students.


The Island School Celebrates 10 years on Eleuthera with guest speaker Dr. Sylvia Earle, marine biologist, oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer.


The first Summer Term is introduced as a condensed version of the Semester, growing annual student participation in the Semester/Summer model by 30% and spreading the reach of this transformative experience.


The Bahamas establishes the world’s first Shark Sanctuary, in part due to research and information provided by Cape Eleuthera Institute scientists.


In an effort to bring more families to Cape Eleuthera, The Island School opens the Elementary Learning Center to provide programming for the community’s youngest learners and extends their educational philosophy to a new generation.


Dr. Edd Brooks named CEO, after 10 years of service and establishing the global Shark Research and Conservation program at CEI. Edd works alongside Chris Maxey to lead the daily operations of the organization.


The Island School is a founding member of the Mastery Transcript Consortium challenging the way we assess and report on student progress and grading.


The RV Alucia visits The Island School and Cape Eleuthera for the first of 3 missions, taking students, government officials and scientists deep into the ocean in a submersible to aid in Deep Sea exploration and research.


The Island School launches the first ever curriculum/education program and training for solar installation in-country with the Center for Training and Innovation at the One Eleuthera Foundation.


The Bahamas Ministry of Education and The Island School sign an MOU for a Lab School Model incorporating Deep Creek Middle School and the Deep Creek Primary School to serve as an ongoing model in The Bahamas.


The Island School Celebrates 20 years of programming at the New England Aquarium in Boston, MA with guest lecturer Edie Witter.


Ben Dougherty, former Dean of Faculty for the Semester, Science and Research teacher from 2006–2009, is named Head of School/CEO and returns to Eleuthera to live and work with his family. Founder Chris Maxey shifts his focus to fundraising and securing the long term future of The Island School.


The Island School begins a Strategic Planning process to articulate the focus and vision for the next 5 years.