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.
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."