Honour was indeed humbling, appreciated

I would like to use the medium of your paper to thank the Education Department of the Cayman Islands Government for the honour of being named an Education Pioneer. The National 2012 Heroes Day recognition was an unexpected surprise. To be named among so many incredible educators is an honour. To read the tributes by the Minister of Education, Training and Employment and the Chief Education Officer was quite humbling. To review the progress of education in the Cayman Islands is amazing.

I came to the Cayman Islands Education Department in 1984 thinking I would be there for two years. I stayed for 24 years! Mrs. Joy Basdeo was chief education officer at that time. During those two years, we worked to develop programmes for children with special needs. From 1986 to 1990, I worked in my private practice assessing children, developing educational programmes and aiding parents to obtain proper diagnosis of their child’s learning difficulties. In 1990, I was asked to begin a school. It opened with just a few children; however, the numbers grew. I remember in the early years how Jean-Michel Cousteau would visit my school, Faulkner Academy, and speak to my small group of children in the school yard. He challenged me to begin classes in oceanography and marine biology. Also, he wanted the students of all ages to visit the sea and study the sea life. We added a science lab with electric microscopes to fulfil Mr. Cousteau’s challenge. In just a few years, Faulkner Academy grew with grades from nursery to high school. With a maximum of eight students to a class, the total student population was never high; however, we had a variety of nationalities and religions. The teachers of Faulkner Academy are what made the school unique and different. Competent, enthusiastic, energetic, and loving teachers are what made the school successful. Dedicated parents, working with those teachers, created much success in the children. In 2002, I sold the school to International Schools Services. At that time, Faulkner Academy had 75 students, 17 nationalities, and seven religions. Today, it brings me such joy to see the growth of the Cayman International School. Who would have thought the small Faulkner Academy would grow to over 450 students in less than 10 years? Thank you to CIS and their wonderful staff. Thank you also to Mrs. Nimmi Sekhar, Mrs. Wendy Foreman, and Mr. Ronnie Garwood, former employees of Faulkner Academy, who continue to serve Cayman International School.

I miss the Cayman Islands and the wonderful friends I have there. My husband, Sam Ebanks, and I live in Alto, New Mexico, most of the year and on our small Texas ranch during the winter. We will be in Cayman July 21-28 and would love to visit with our friends.

Thank you again for this incredible honour and recognition for a humble contribution in education. I am so very proud to be included in such an incredible group of educators.

Warm regards to all,

Dr. Elizabeth Faulkner Ebanks

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