The third annual Joanna Clarke Excellence in Education Award was presented to the National Council of Voluntary Organisations at Ristorante Pappagallo on 30 May.
The organisation received the full funding for its Accessing Computer Aided Learning initiative which will offer youth residents of the Nadine Andreas Residential Foster Home a computing and network suite. The award will give the children the same access to approved computer websites and activities as other children who attend George Hicks and John Gray High School.
The Cayman Islands Scout Association was the runner-up for the award, and received partial funding for the Cayman Islands Scout Band, which requires a full complement of musical instruments and uniforms, as well as an instructor to train the band.
‘The NCVO would like to thank Don Seymour, dms and the Joanna Clarke Award Committee for selecting us as winners for the Excellence in Education Award,’ said NCVO Secretary Janice Wilson. ‘The funds donated through this award will be of real benefit to the children who reside in the NCVO’s Nadine Andreas Foster Home as it will enable them to have access to computer aided learning and greatly enhance the homework programme.’
Recognising the efforts of persons and organisations that contribute to education, the ceremony also provided a platform for children to display their gift for the arts. At the cocktail reception the John Gray High Jazz Combo welcomed guests with melodic beats. And during the reception John A. Cumber Primary Year Six Choir sang the interesting Open de Library at the beginning of the dinner. Also, an assortment of artwork was on display from students of Savannah Primary School.
Minister of Education, Training and Employment, Rolston Anglin, in his address noted that he was paying attention to the John A. Cumber’s song Open de Library. ‘Today was one of the greatest lobbying efforts that I have ever been witness to. I heard the cries of my John A. Cumber children and I would jus tlike to say that it will not be for any lack of effort on my part that will keep the library closed,’ said Mr. Anglin.
Thanking the dms Organisation, the new minister expressed his gratitude for its investment in education, which, he hoped, is a trend that others will follow.
‘The government cannot do it alone, so having corporate citizens with this type of leadership and vision is of utmost importance to the community,’ added Mr. Anglin.
The award’s namesake, Joanna Clarke, in her address to guests said picking a winner was no easy task.
‘I would like to note that the diversity of the 14 applications that we received this year was particularly pleasing. There was a great selection of applicants and even better finalists. We had a tough road to reach our decision, and ultimately, after much deliberation, arrived at the decision to award two grants,’ said Ms Clarke.
In previous years, the awards evening was an exclusive, invite-only event. For 2009, it was open to the public for ticket and table sales to raise funds for a new Joanna Clarke Scholarship Fund. This fund will grant financial support to an aspiring or existing teacher looking to further his/her education.
dms hopes to award the first scholarship in 2010. A number of individuals and organisations purchased tickets to show their support, with a great representation from former students of Ms Clarke’s, particularly those from Savannah Primary School. Adding a bit of humour to the event, Ms Clarke explained that she had also taught the Minister of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture, Mark Scotland.
‘I had him for seven years; he had me for seven years and see where it has gotten him. The smallest member of the political team with the longest title,’ she said with a laugh.
Giving a bit of insight as to the criteria for judging the finalists was Literary Education Specialist Tanya-Marie Samuels.
She explained that the committee, which consists of herself; Joanna Clarke; Don Seymour, president of dms Organisation; Red Bay Primary School’s Literacy Coordinator Anne Briggs; Mark Scotland; John Grey High School’s Reading Specialist Lydia Warren and News Director of CITN April Cummings, carefully reviewed all applications submitted and narrowed down the finalists whom were invited to give an oral presentation outlining their project and demonstrating how the award criteria would be met by their proposed project.
To select award winner(s), committee members numerically rated each finalist on each criterion. An overall score was then determined for each initiative.
The other finalists recognised at the ceremony and their proposed initiatives included Cayman Islands Youth Development Consortium -Youth Development Partnership Scheme; John Gray High School – John Gray Surf Club; John A. Cumber Primary – Improving Literacy and Numeracy through the Arts: and John Gray High School – BTEC First in Music Technology.
‘The award started with a belief that our children, who represent our future, are a worthy investment in the well-being of our community. dms believes in the importance of corporate social responsibility, and this award is part of our ongoing commitment to recognise education initiatives and provide them the support to succeed,’ commented Mr. Seymour.
‘The evening was a great success, and it is very rewarding to do our part to support our community – particularly the youth – the future our island. I would like to congratulate our winners and finalists alike,’ said Mr Seymour.
The JCA celebrates the exemplary service of long-time educator, Ms. Joanna Clarke, and provides funding up to $12,000 annually. dms launched this cornerstone education initiative to recognise the efforts of all persons and organisations that contribute to education in the Cayman Islands.
Past recipients include 2007 winner, Savannah Primary School PTA, which used the funding to pay for new playground equipment and 2008 winner, John Gray High School, for its Blueprint for Literacy initiative.