Cayman International School makes commitment

A comprehensive strategic planning effort is under way to set a new direction for Cayman International School.

Gregory Hedger, the school’s director, says the five-year plan will significantly add to the Grand Cayman school’s ability to educate students and prepare them for college.

Included in the plan are a detailed curriculum, a data base to help improve learning, and many more initiatives designed to provide students with a consistently high-quality learning environment.

‘This planning will permit us to continue to build upon our strong program and will lead to a high school program that is capable of preparing children to go on to good colleges,’ said Hedger.

Hedger believes it is vital to avoid the tendency for schools to only plan for the yearly cycle and neglect long-term planning.

‘It’s a common problem,’ he said. ‘People naturally look at the here and now and don’t think about the long term. We are thinking about our goal five years from now and what we have to do to get there.

‘I think what we are doing is unique for the island because the inspectorate office is impressed and has asked me to speak to principals at other schools about this. The thing that is exciting is that we have all the stakeholders in the school represented in this.’

Both teachers and parents have a say in the process, according to Hedger. Students are surveyed annually so their input can be considered as well.

As part of their current upgrading process, Cayman International is going through an accreditation process with MiddleStates Association of Schools and Colleges, one of six organizations that provide accreditation to public and private schools in the US. They also provide accreditation for schools around the world. This month, a team from MiddleStates visited Cayman International School to assess goals and review the efforts made so far. An elated Hedger says the team gave the school high marks, confirming that the school is on course.

Strategic planning

Last December, a diverse group of stakeholders met to review Cayman International School’s mission statement and come up with recommendations for setting the school’s course for the next five years.

The two important decisions of the council are that the school will work to improve the core academic achievement areas and develop a high school that will prepare children for success in college.

Then the baton was passed to ‘action plan teams’ responsible for turning ideas into reality. Hedger says the school is committed to a timetable of checkpoints to ensure that there is steady progress toward the goals. The Strategic Planning Council will meet annually in order to continually review the school’s progress.

‘Things can be changed if this council believes that something needs to be done differently,’ said Hedger. ‘For example, they might identify something as being too big a step and should be broken down into four or five steps.’

Cayman International School serves students from kindergarten through ninth grade and will offer 10th grade next year. The following year, the school will relocate to a new facility in the Dart Complex. The school will still be owned by International Schools Services Cayman, the local affiliate of the US company.

‘The benefit of all this is that a child will have consistent, high quality education, year after year. This is exciting for me,’ said Hedger. ‘I’ve been through this process in Romania and Indonesia. The key is that we get stakeholder involvement from all the constituencies. That’s rare. Oftentimes schools are scared to get input from parents or students. Long range planning is rare in schools as well. Another good thing about this is that it creates a commitment to a certain direction on the part of the parents, students, teachers, the administration and the board.’

Cayman International School was formerly Faulkner Academy. It was purchased by ISS (Cayman) last year and currently serves 136 students. It is in Governor’s Harbour and is scheduled to move to the Dart complex in the fall of 2006.

The Dart interests merely lease the building and have no ownership in the school, Hedger said.

He also said that the school’s fees are less than that of comparable International Schools in other countries.

While Cayman International students study various world religions, the school does not promote one religion over others. This is in order to allow all children to feel welcome there, Hedger says.

Hedger believes parents should not have to face a situation where they feel the quality of their child’s education depends upon the ability of a particular teacher.

Curriculum standards and teacher training should be at a level high enough to ensure that the desired quality is always there. Cayman International’s Strategic Planning effort is designed to achieve this, said Hedger.