Among the winds of change blowing through Cayman’s education system are approximately 60 new education professionals that have arrived here for this school year.
At the annual orientation of education professionals at the Marriott Resort Wednesday morning, Minister for Education Alden McLaughlin told the new teachers they have joined the education system at an exciting time in its development.
‘There is an air of optimism and tremendous enthusiasm for what is being done in relation to education,’ he said.
Approximately 60 new educational and teaching professionals have arrived in Cayman, including heads of departments, learning behaviour specialists, education psychologists and literacy co-ordinators.
They have come from places such as the UK, Canada, Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica.
Four of the new teachers are to be taking positions at Cayman Brac High School.
There are also seven trained graduates from the Cayman Islands who have returned here qualified to teach. This is something Minister McLaughlin said made him very proud.
Chief Education Officer Nyda Flatley introduced Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin to the new teachers.
‘He is committed to reforming the education system and passionate about providing students with every possible opportunity to fulfil their potential and drive in an increasingly demanding world on an international level,’ she said.
She noted how he initiated an education conference on an unprecedented scale, having taken up office just over a year ago.
This became a national consensus on the way forward for reform, which was based on placing the student at the centre of the education system.
He has made major advancements on the 10 adopted strategies for reform, she said, evidenced notably on the work of the new national curriculum for schools and the new framework for the governance of the entire education system.
Minister McLaughlin spoke about the student being placed at the centre of every aspect of the reform process and of the concept regarding the profile of the educated Caymanian.
This provides a clear aim and vision for the education of people and the standard of what needs to be achieved, he said.
Minister McLaughlin noted that the government has committed to the most ambitious capital investment in education in the history of the islands.
Over the course of the next three years $150 million will be spent on a physical plan including three new high schools and the development of a new primary school.
‘I urge you all to be prepared for change,’ he said, adding that the new national curriculum is also on the way.
Minister McLaughlin also spoke about the new concept of four schools in one at George Hicks High School.
‘The restructuring of George Hicks has been a major step forward in improving education in these islands,’ he said, explaining that this has provided a long term sustainable model for the future of all schools in Cayman.
From September, also, every single school in Cayman will have a special literacy co-ordinator, including the Sister Islands.
‘These are indeed exciting times,’ said the Minister. ‘Please do not underestimate the value of your contribution in helping us forge the way for students in all the schools. Your knowledge, expertise and experience will be vital in helping us achieve our goals.’
Another education conference is to be held in early December and input from all members of the community will be welcomed, he said.
Deputy Chief Education Officer Francine Gardner said, ‘Teaching is a very noble profession and I venture to say that it is also the most rewarding professions.’
She added, ‘The Ministry of Education and the Education Department will work closely with you and assist you, the overseas teachers, in making Cayman your second home as you work with our children in helping them to achieve their full potential.’
She urged the teachers to set high expectations for the students and to encourage them to believe in themselves.
She also noted that Cayman is quite a small society and as teachers they would be watched by students and members of the community.
‘Therefore, it beholds that you live up to the high ideals of the teaching profession.’
Adding that teachers are very important and valuable assets to the community, she said, ‘We look forward to many years of committed and dedicated service in the Cayman Islands’.
Because Chief Officer for the Ministry of Education Angela Martins was not able to be present at the orientation, Gareth Long, Strategic Development Officer, Ministry of Education, spoke in her place.
He urged the new teachers to learn about Cayman’s uniqueness, history, culture and values.