The sound of 540 children shouting for joy filled the assembly hall at John A. Cumber Primary School in West Bay last Friday, October 21, when it was announced their school had been chosen as the recipient of Butterfield Bank’s $20,000 Education Grant.
A special assembly had been called, ostensibly so Butterfield Bank representatives could talk to the students about the importance of starting to save early. Students were encouraged to open their Young Savers accounts, which would also enter them in a prize draw for a laptop computer.
It came as a complete surprise for the students, however, when Sheree Ebanks, Director and Head of Wealth Management at Butterfield Bank, took to the stage and announced that out of all the applications the bank had received from schools throughout the Cayman Islands, theirs had been selected to receive the first of what is to become an annual education grant. Although they received a number of good applications, the movie made by Year 6 students, she said, stood out in particular and brought tears to her eyes.
“One of the criteria [for awarding the grant] was creativity and getting all the kids involved, so that they knew what was going on,” said Ms Ebanks, noting the John A. Cumber application had successfully involved all 96, Year 6 students.
“Some of them wrote letters, others did paintings, there were PowerPoint presentations and we had simple animations with the children’s voices explaining why they wanted the grant,” said Mrs Rachel Klein, the ICT teacher who was the driving force behind the school’s successful application for the grant.
The $20,000 grant to John A. Cumber primary school will enable the school to purchase five smart boards. Smart boards, Mrs Klein said, are like giant computer screens through which educators can access the Internet, show videos and create a more interactive learning experience.
“Year 1 already has a smart board, thanks to a previous donation, but with this grant the school will be able to purchase smart boards for Years 2 through 6, so that every year will now have access to this amazing teaching resource,” Mrs Klein said.
The students were excited by the news and, according to Mrs Klein, although they put the application together last academic year, when they returned to school in September they were still asking for news of the grant.
“I am really excited because now we can learn more and we can have more than one smart board in the school,” said student Anthony Miguel Diaz.
“It’s way better than normal white boards. Instead of the teacher having to search in books we can use the Internet and learn at the same time,” Adam Mohammed said.
Butterfield Bank is strongly committed to corporate social responsibility and they have long supported education through small grants and donations, Ms Ebanks said. While they will continue to make these smaller donations, she recognises the effect can be short-lived and hopes by awarding a school a more significant sum it will help to make a very real difference.
Butterfield will begin to advertise for applications for next year’s education grant in March 2012.