Joanna Clarke finalists picked

dms Organisation Ltd has announced the finalists for its education initiative, the Joanna Clarke Excellence in Education Award.

The Early Years Task Force, School Counselor’s Group, Catch Up Literacy, Speech and Language Therapy Department and the Harmony Learning Centre have each been selected from 20 applicants.

This marks dms’ fifth year celebrating the service of longtime local educator Joanna Clarke with grants up to $12,000 annually to education initiatives.

The application process came to a close on 1 April, and on 7 April the award committee, comprised of nine members of the local business and education communities, selected the five finalists.

“It is inspiring to see such a pool of deserving initiatives,” said Committee Chair Joanna Clarke. “We had a wider range of applicants this year than in the past, including many non-profit associations, clubs and organisations in addition to the schools that applied.

“While it is challenging to determine between such impressive initiatives, ultimately we determined the finalists due to them being the strongest in aligning with our distinct criteria, particularly that of sustainability,” she added. “We have always been inclined to offer grants and support initiatives that we are confident will continue to grow and flourish for many years.

“Interestingly, three of our five finalists were literacy initiative candidates, which is key to children’s education and development. We certainly have a hard decision ahead of us.”

Final projects

Early Years Task Force has requested funding for its Preschool Educational and Training Assistance Programme for plans to provide literacy and phonics kits to all 30 registered preschools throughout the Cayman Islands. The project will also provide the relevant professional development and training workshops for teachers.

School Counsellor’s Group applied for the grant to support its mission to use guidance counselling to expose and build awareness in social skills, human development, self-identification and how to make decisions based on facts. The funding will assist in purchasing a wide variety of learning materials which will enhance the counsellor’s teaching of social skills and human development.

Catch Up Literacy requested funding for its Catch Up Cayman programme which seeks to address the problem of underachievement that is often rooted in literacy and numeracy challenges. In 2010 literacy coaches underwent training to offer the programme which is based on a proven literacy model that enables and supports the sustainable use and embedding of the Catch Up Cayman intervention for ‘at risk’ students across Cayman’s public schools. They require funding to continue the programme.

The Speech and Language Therapy Department is seeking funding to set up a Training Assistance Programme, which is intended to train and support parents and caregivers of children with language delays to understand how they can assist with language development. Parents and caregivers will undergo a 12-week training programme to become language facilitators and understand how to maximize children’s daily routines, even playtimes.

The Harmony Learning Centre, based in Cayman Brac, is dedicated to supporting people with developmental disabilities and their families through increasing their opportunities to make choices and decisions about the quality of their lives and responding to their changing needs. The centre requested funding to launch its Day Programme which will be modelled on the ASDAN Towards Independence Programme. ASDAN provides workbooks that facilitate tracking the progress of each stage of teaching young students independent living skills.

Award

The award is not limited strictly to education initiatives. It also seeks to enrich the lives of Cayman’s youth, whether through a traditional academic endeavour or to fund an extracurricular activity that keeps our youth focused and active.

Last year’s award recipients were Cayman Prep and High School for its Marine Science Programme, George Town Primary School for its Digital Visual Media Club and John Gray High School for its Scuba Diving Club.

The five finalists will each have the opportunity to present their project and partake in a question-and-answer session which will be considered against the award’s criteria previously established by the committee members.

The 2011 winner(s) will be announced Saturday, 14 May, at the Grand Old House.

If several worthy projects are identified, the committee may provide grants to multiple organisations up to $12,000 in total.

“DMS continues to be committed to giving back to our community through various donations, sponsorship and volunteer efforts, and in particular, Cayman’s youth,” said dms Vice President and award committee member Krista Pell. “This award is one that we cherish and hold in the highest regard as it brings to the forefront how many deserving initiatives there are locally that require the support of the private sector to be successful. Corporate social responsibility is key, and we take that responsibility seriously.”

Awards event

The awards evening is open to the public for ticket and table sales to raise funds for the Joanna Clarke Scholarship Fund, an extension of the JCA, granting financial support to an aspiring or existing teacher looking to further his/her education.

The JCA evening will begin with a champagne reception and silent auction at 6pm, followed by dinner and the unveiling of the 2011 recipient(s).

Additionally, 2010 JCA winners will share an overview of what has been accomplished over the course of the last year.

Tickets are $100 each, and for educators, $75. To purchase tickets or for further information about the JCA, contact Tara Tvedt-Pearson, dms Organisation Ltd Project Coordinator, at 749-2407 or [email protected]

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