Stalwarts in the education field were honoured at the third annual Chamber of Commerce Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching on Saturday at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
The event saw 21 exceptional educators revered for their devotion, proficiency and guidance. Seven received Golden Apple Awards and Marjorie Ebanks, former principal of Triple C School accepted the second Lifetime Achievement Award.
Guests were treated to a champagne reception during the early hours of the evening before being led into a grand ballroom where Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Commerce Wil Pineau welcomed all in attendance.
‘This evening is the culmination of many months of planning and hard work on the part of the Chamber’s Partners in Education. Chamber staff, corporate sponsors, teachers, students and parents who each contributed in their own unique way to the successful conclusion of the third year of this teachers’ recognition programme,’ he said.
Chamber President Stuart Bostock, in his address, lauded the teachers for their tireless efforts of preparing the children of these Islands for the world through education.
‘The Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching provides our community with an opportunity to pause and to shine the spotlight on the teaching profession in our community and to recognise teachers who frequently go beyond the call of duty to make a difference in the lives of our children,’ Mr. Bostock said.
Minister of Education Rolston Anglin said he fully supports the award programme.
‘In your roles as educators, we entrust our children’s futures into your hands, which is testimony to the high regard in which we, as a community, hold this most noble profession,’ he said. ‘Our desire as parents and as a people is to see our youth instilled with a thirst for continuous learning and improvement, imbued with the versatility to cope with the changing needs of our society. Consequently, you bear the responsibility for developing our younger generation and instilling in them the ability to assimilate modern technology ideas; to think critically and creatively; and to view their environment with a global perspective.’
With special presentations to all the honourees bestowed by Mr. Bostock and Mr. Anglin, the three- course meal was blessed by KPMG Managing Partner Roy McTaggart.
The pinnacle of the evening’s festivities began when the winners of the awards started to be announced.
The first award, for Primary School Teacher in a Private School was presented to Catherine Eugene of Cayman Academy by Cayman Free Press Editor Tammie Chisholm.
‘Cayman Free Press supports the growth and development of our local community. We are proud to be a Partner in Education and we will continue to support this Chamber initiative in the years to come. It gives me great pleasure to introduce the honourees in this evening’s first category,’ said Mrs. Chisholm.
DART Cayman Islands Communications Manager Lynn Smith-Moore presented the Golden Apple Award for Primary School Teacher in a Public School to Margaret Juman of Creek & Spot Bay Junior School.
The Middle School Teacher in a Private School award went to Bernice Scott of Grace Christian Academy, which was presented by The Ritz-Carlton’s Roger Ponce.
Janet Harris of New Horizons High School, George Hicks Campus, received the award for Middle School Teacher in a Public School from past president of the Chamber of Commerce, Angelyn Hernandez.
The High School Teacher in a Private School Award went to St. Ignatius Catholic High School’s Anthony Kaburu, which was presented by James O’Neill, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce.
David Toney of the Alternative Education Centre received the Golden Apple Award for the High School Teacher in a Public School award which was presented by Mr. Bostock.
Mr. Anglin presented the Principal in a Private or Public School Award to Grace Christian Academy’s Leonora Mendoza-Hydes.
The last award of the evening was the Lifetime Achievement Award, which went to Mrs. Ebanks and was presented by Maples and Calder partner Dale Crowley.
Humbled by the award Mrs. Ebanks said, ‘I address you all with a deep sense of appreciation and awe at the award you have afforded me.’
Explaining that she was mentored by ‘the greats’ such as Desmond Watler, Sir Vassel Johnson and Sybil McLaughlin, she told the crowd at the time her mentors did not realise her passion for teaching and were grooming her to be a clerk in the Legislative Assembly. Also at one point in her life, teaching seemed, ‘As impossible as going to the moon.’
Things quickly changed when she was inspired by her pastor Carl Holm to go to college and follow her dream.
‘What a blessing to serve the families of Triple C School for 32 years (and counting),’ said Mrs Ebanks. ‘What an honour, a privilege and responsibility.
‘I never sacrificed to work at Triple C School. The trade-off in lower income was more than rewarded by a sense of fulfilment, the joy of impacting their lives for the Lord, and revelling in their success.
‘When you love what you do, and you do what you love, there is no sacrifice. It is like being paid to do what you want anyway.’