For most kids, getting to school is simply a matter of hopping on a bus. Mathieu Pothier is not “most kids.” To get to school, the 10-year-old has to spend a lot of time on airplanes.
Mathieu’s family is based in Little Cayman, where his father and mother, Marc and Sabine Pothier, manage Paradise Villas, an oceanside resort. The Pothiers have been living in Little Cayman for 17 years.
Until this year, Mathieu attended school on the tiny island with a handful of other kids of various ages, who were all taught in one room by one teacher.
Mrs. Pothier said that despite the small size of the Little Cayman school, the quality of the education was excellent.
When Mathieu was one of the younger kids in class, she said he benefited from studying in the same lessons as the older kids, and was picking up advanced material very quickly. Soon, though, he became the oldest kid in the class as others moved away.
“The schooling was very good; the teacher was excellent,” Mrs. Pothier said. “But it comes to an age where a kid is too old, and you’re going to be bored in Little Cayman.”
Together, the Pothiers decided that Mathieu should attend school on Grand Cayman, where he would be able to participate in extracurricular activities, and make friends with kids his own age.
So this year, Mathieu began Year 6 at Cayman Prep, a school with a larger population than the entirety of Little Cayman.
Mrs. Pothier said that some Little Cayman families move to Cayman Brac when their kids reach high school age, which is a move that especially makes sense for those who also have family on the Brac.
She said they are the first family, as far as she knows, to be based in Little Cayman but have a child attend school in Grand Cayman.
To make it work, the Pothiers rented an apartment in Grand Cayman and Mathieu and Mrs. Pothier fly home to Little Cayman most weekends, usually three times a month. That’s the arrangement they plan to keep up for the next six years until Mathieu finishes high school.
“I did inquire with Cayman Airways if there was a possibility to buy tickets in bulk,” Mrs. Pothier said.
Such frequent flying, both the expense and challenge of having to book flights early, is one downside of the arrangement, as is the separation from Mr. Pothier. For the most part, Mrs. Pothier said, it’s working fine, and has been a very positive experience for Mathieu.
He is able to participate in sports like tennis, football and his favorite, hockey, which are generally not available for him on Little Cayman. Then there are music classes and language classes, like French and Spanish.
While he was a bit overwhelmed the first couple of weeks, Mrs. Pothier said Mathieu adjusted quickly, aided by friendly fellow students and understanding teachers.
“He’s really enjoying it,” Mrs. Pothier said. “So many days, he says, ‘Oh, school today was fun!”
Little Cayman student attends school on Grand Cayman, where he can participate in more extracurricular activities and make friends with kids his own age.