New education chief announced

John Gray High School Principal Lyneth Monteith will take over as head of the Department of Education Services from Shirley Wahler who is stepping down after seven years in the position. 

Acting Chief Officer in the Ministry of Education Christen Suckoo announced Ms. Monteith’s appointment on Thursday. She will take up the role of acting chief education officer on March 1, he said. 

Ms. Monteith said, “I very much look forward to the challenges of this position, but more importantly, I look forward to the opportunities to contribute to improvements and effect positive change in education services.”  

According to a statement issued by the ministry, Ms. Monteith has worked as an educator for the past 34 years, including 26 years in leadership roles in middle and high school. She has worked in teams on curriculum development, local text book writing and various system changes, and has been involved in education reform as a member of working parties on national initiatives, such as the National Strategic Plan, leadership training for principals and deputies, and providing strategic advice on national policies and implementing them in her role as principal of John Gray, the largest high school in the Cayman Islands. 

Ms. Monteith holds a Bachelor of Education from Leeds University, a Master of Arts in Educational Management from Bath University and a National Educational Leadership Certification. She has also taken part in continued professional development and has certifications in project management, change management, and restorative justice. 

Ms. Wahler has spent more than 20 years in the Cayman Islands education system, where she served at Cayman Brac High School from 1998 to 2007. Prior to that, she worked as lecturer, librarian, registrar and head of general studies at the Community College of the Cayman Islands. She became chief education officer for the Department of Education Services in 2007. 

She is moving to the South Atlantic island of St. Helena to take up an education role there. 

Ms. Wahler said, in the issued statement, that she felt “very fortunate to contribute and shape many changes that have taken place over the years in the education system of the Cayman Islands.”  

Ms. Wahler’s announcement last month that she was leaving followed the departure in September 2014 of Mary Rodrigues as chief officer in the Ministry of Education, from whom Mr. Suckoo took over in an acting role. 

“I am looking forward to working with Ms. Monteith to build upon the strengths of the education system and tackle the areas of weakness that remain,” Mr. Suckoo said. “Ms. Monteith has led John Gray through numerous improvements and although there is still more work to be done, I feel that Ms. Monteith has the experience and professional knowledge that place her in contention to lead the education system.” 

He added, “Ms. Monteith has demonstrated the ability to be strategic, visionary and plan long term for improvement. She is well versed in the systemic needs and has demonstrated the ability to effectively lead towards continued growth of the education system in these islands. Her appointment to Acting Chief Education Officer is an important part of succession planning in the Ministry of Education as at the end of her acting role she, along with others in the education system, will have gained the necessary experience to be a viable candidate when the post is advertised.” 

When Ms. Monteith takes up her new position next month, Matthew Holmes, John Gray’s deputy principal, will take over as the principal of the high school. 

Winston Connolly, temporary minister of education, employment and gender affairs, thanked Ms. Wahler for her years of service and wished her well in her future endeavors. He added, “We also welcome the announcement of the Acting Chief Education Officer Lyneth Monteith and look forward to working together for future improvements in education services.” 


Ms. Monteith


Ms. Wahler