Hive School Dominican Republic – A Review

We have been incredibly fortunate to be able to attend the Hive School in its very first two terms (sessions) here in the beautiful Dominican Republic, and what an experience it has been! I’ll be really honest and say that the Dominican Republic has never featured on any of our travel wish lists. But when we heard about what Kate was setting up here, we wanted in.

Every learning experience at Hive School has a purposeful, real-world context, providing opportunities to connect with other learners in a meaningful and engaging way. Children are not only encouraged to value and care for themselves, their peers and the planet, they are also explicitly taught how to turn their ideas into concrete plans and execute them with confidence. This approach goes way beyond what is needed for passing standardised tests.

The value offered by Hive School is much more than a year-end grade.” Hive school 2020

Gimme Gimme!

So, we wired money to some people we’d never met (don’t worry, it turned out fine!) and booked flights.  On arrival, we were totally blown away with the stunning tropical paradise that welcomed us. Mother nature has been particularly generous to this island. It’s also a big country, so the safety concerns of the capital city, Santo Domingo, and the package holiday districts that formed our pre-conceived impressions of this country are, to our relief, many hours away by car.

From the moment we stepped foot in Cabrera, we knew this was going to be a special place. It’s a town where there is still a super-tight community and the local doctor pays visits to your home if you get sick. It’s not touristy, but the local people are super welcoming and forgiving of our terribly rusty Spanish language skills. The locals are not wealthy, but they take pride in making their town as beautiful as they can and street art adorns wall space everywhere.  Spanish is the language around here, and the cultural enrichment for us had been huge; the biggest culture shock being the driving! The roads are better than other places we’ve been (looking at you Kazakhstan!), but mopeds and motorbikes are the vehicle of choice here, and people carry everything on them; drainpipes, barrels, ladders, their whole family, new-born babies, and of course helmets are optional (but always worn on the handlebars). They rule the roads, they drive everywhere, and it is common to find them driving the wrong way up the street. You know that hazard awareness test you do when you take your driving theory test? It’s basically that, and then some.  The school is bi-lingual and the teachers speak in both English and Spanish. They employ lots of local people who only speak Spanish. They have local children who attend the school, who are learning English and helping our kids to learn Spanish as they play and make friendships. The school feels fully integrated into this community, everyone knows about it, and they are providing jobs and income for people who are grateful for the opportunity.

One of the highlights for us has been the people. Oh my, where to start. The Hive families have been incredible, we have learned so much from them, and truly made some hopefully life-long friendships. It has been so interesting to meet so many different families from around the world, and we have made deep connections with many of them. We are so excited to cross paths with all of them somewhere on our planet in the future.

Special mentions go to:

  • Ryann, the property manager/everything arranger who lives every day with such passion and energy and who is ALWAYS there for everyone she knows. I have never met anyone like her. She is the epitome of the saying, “love your job and you’ll never work a day in your life”. If I can take a little bit of her work ethic with me when I leave, I’ll be very happy!
  • Five backpacks family. We are incredibly grateful to have crossed paths with these guys. They have three wonderful boys and have been full time travelling for the past two years. They live their life with discipline, integrity and kindness. They nail parenting, and have been our sounding board for discussions about how we could improve our own family dynamic. They’ve inspired us to refine what we really want our family to be, and how to action this.  Chris and Holly have been offering both kids and adults martial arts classes for the duration of our time here and that has been pivotal for me in particular, I plan to continue once we have parted. You can buy their parenting book here.
  • Kate, the headteacher. She came to Cabrera initially to attend another programme with her child, which then closed due to COVID, so she decided she’d just make her own school! Her determination and bravery to follow her heart has been breath-taking. We all have these big dreams in life, but she is that person that actually makes the leap. The planet is crying out for more Kates.

Our children have been inspired to become eco-heroes from their topics at school which are based on the UN sustainable development goals. One of our son’s highlights was getting on the school bus to distribute posters around town that his group had made to educate people about the invasive lionfish aka Pez Leon. Every time we spot one on a window or a lamppost, he beams with pride. He learned about an ecological problem, and then as a team came up with real, tangible action, which was then carried out and went into the world to genuinely make a difference. And he’s not the only one who’s inspired, I overheard a child talking to her friend the other day,

“If we’ve learned anything at school, it is that we can make a difference, no matter what age we are”

Another said,

“I love how the school makes me feel like I can make a difference. We don’t just talk about what is wrong with the world, we actually act on those things and make solutions”

How empowered do these children sound? Imagine what the world could become if every child was educated this way. But I do know that every child who passes through the Hive School will make a positive change to the world, and that will make a difference, little by little. Our children have both had great leaps in their development, they have matured emotionally, their writing has improved and they’ve had joyful experiences that they will remember forever. The teachers have been fantastic and we’ve had complete faith in their practice from day one. We are truly grateful for all the effort they’ve put into getting this off the ground. 

At a time when we needed it the most, the Hive School offered us all a chance for connection. The children made instant friends at school, and whilst they were there, we were kept busy with lunch dates, walks on the beaches or attending classes run by other parents. Every other family brought something special with them, and everybody came into this with open hearts, ready to make connections. We are grateful to all of them for that. As a family we’ve learned to said YES. We’ve said yes to learning martial arts, playing soccer, yoga, fitness classes, singing, drama class, circus class, capoeira, horse riding…. the list goes on. A lot of those took courage for us to say yes, but we did, and it feels great! I am one of those people who never liked to try new things for fear of failure, but in this safe supportive community, I’ve had a go at everything on offer, and it has completely transformed my mindset. It feels like being here at the Hive has given our family time to breathe, take a step back and focus on what we really want from our lives, and how to give back to others and our planet.

To find out more about Hive School (including how to sponsor a local child to attend) head to the website

5 OUT OF 5, would come again! 

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