Dixie Summerscales - "From a sawmill to sand castles in San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 11, No. 18            May 10, 2001

Features: Search Issues | Read Back Issues | Subscriptions | Merchandise Ordering Information

Dixie Summerscales

Many people visit Ambergris Caye and some return to stay. Some of the more popular reasons given are "I fell in love with the island," "It was love at first sight," and "I knew right away; this was the place." Several of the people who relocate here find they cannot "handle island life" after a period of time, but others retain their passion for La Isla Bonita and never leave. Dixie Summerscales is an example of one of those love affairs and we are honored to introduce you to her this week.

    Dixie was born in Evanston, Illinois on June 12th, 1952. As a young girl she lived in a variety of cities such as Chicago, Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri where she attended high school. Dixie then enrolled at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma, majoring in physical education. In the early 70s, she joined her family in North Carolina for a time before heading off to Colorado. In Aspen, Dixie made a living stacking lumber at a sawmill located on a 10,000 foot-high mountain. This young, ambitious woman worked strenuously during the summer living in a log cabin with no electricity and cutting firewood to heat her humble abode. During the winter months, she worked as a cocktail waitress at a popular night spot, "Jerome's Bar." Being vigorous and adventurous, Dixie next traveled to the "Big Apple"- New York City, where she worked at an art gallery for a few months. Not contented with the lifestyle there, she returned to Colorado. This proved to be a momentous decision since, following her return, she was soon offered an opportunity that would ultimately change her life.

    Fate stepped in when Dixie was invited to travel to a tiny island in Central America for a scuba diving excursion. The year was 1975 and the location was Ambergris Caye. After researching the destination, Dixie decided to "go with the flow" and in December she and the dive group landed on the island's grass airstrip. She clearly remembers being met by Mr. Nando Trejo Sr. who offered them a ride, stowing their equipment in the back of his land rover. Standing there a strong feeling of warmth came over Dixie, as she recalled the bird's eye view of the island she had just experienced and she knew at that very moment that this island was the ideal place for her to live. After enjoying two weeks of excellent diving and meeting new friends, she and the group returned to Colorado satisfied with their vacation. Unlike the others though, La Isla Bonita had stolen a part of Dixie's heart and she was permanently settled in San Pedro just two weeks later.

    This tropical island embraced Dixie with open arms and in turn she reciprocated. She was hired as manager of the Ambergris Lodge (now Mayan Princess), a job she performed with much professionalism. A brief marriage in Ambergris Caye also gifted Dixie with two children Alexander and Dustin. 

    Years later, another great moment occurred in Dixie's life when Cupid directed his arrow towards this gracious woman. In 1980, she met Barry Bowen, a prominent man in Belize. Although this gentleman lived in Belize City, Cupid had done his job and soon enough the couple built a home in San Pedro naming it Casa Verde. Eventually, Dixie left Ambergris Lodge to manage San Pedro Foods, a wholesale and retail store that Barry Bowen had built. Together, she and Charlene (Woods) Johnston were the backbone of this enterprise for almost ten years. Eventually, Dixie and Barry had a lovely baby girl, Courtney. After the birth of her baby, Dixie decided to devote the next five years to her child. It was during Courtney's development that Dixie came up with the concept of opening her own elementary school.

    As San Pedro began its rapid growth, Dixie noticed that the elementary school was getting more crowded. She had always enjoyed children and decided to offer the residents of San Pedro the option of sending their children to a private school where there were fewer students per teacher. After consulting with several friends and parents of San Pedro she felt that there was enough interest to make this project viable. After persuading Barry, Dixie put her plan into action, supervising the construction of Island Academy. With extensive knowledge of the community, excellent management skills and because she was bilingual, Dixie was named the school's Director.

    In September 1995, Island Academy opened its doors to the public with 52 students. Dixie explained the school's philosophy is based on creative thinking and discipline. At Island Academy they believe there is more to education than what you get out of books, such as teaching proper manners and social skills. Although Dixie is extremely busy managing the Academy, she always finds time to meet with the students and to participate in their formal lunches held every Wednesday.

    Today, Dixie is still in love with what attracted her to the island in the first place - the sea. Whenever possible she enjoys a relaxing swim or a snorkeling trip and never says no to a fishing trip. In fact, she participates with Barry in fishing tournaments at every available opportunity.

    Dixie fell in love with and has become a part of this island paradise. Considered one of the locals, she contributes to the welfare of this growing destination through the proper stimulation of young minds at The Island Academy. For her great ambition and vision we salute, Dixie Summerscales for being a leader in the educational development of "Our Community."

Search SanPedroSun.net go!
| AmbergrisCaye.com | Island Info | Community | History | Visitor Center |
Belize News | BelizeSearch.com | Messages |

Copyright © San Pedro Sun. Design by Casado Internet Group

San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize News