EDITORIAL – Three bright lights in Cayman schools

Amid the general darkness that lingers over our country’s educational system, we are able to point to many individual points of light — both students and teachers.

In this editorial, we will single out three Cayman Islands educators who have appeared in this newspaper recently in recognition of accomplishments they have achieved or opportunities they represent, and — although they come from different backgrounds and operate in distinct areas of the system — are united in their dedication to their students and their positive attitudes when confronted with significant problems.

Elroy Bryan
Elroy Bryan

First, let us congratulate veteran Caymanian educator (and current Savannah Primary School Deputy Principal) Elroy Bryan for his promotion to principal of the Lighthouse School, the country’s educational facility for children with special needs.

Prior to his tenure at Savannah Primary, which began in 2013, Mr. Bryan was a senior teacher and head of the physical education department at Lighthouse School for 14 years.

This coming September, Mr. Bryan will return to a school which, as we reported last June, is in need of fundamental improvement. In late 2014, following a parent’s complaint, officials conducted a series of surveys that revealed widespread concerns about sensitivity to students’ needs, inconsistency in supervision of students, and potential rough or disrespectful treatment of students by some staff.

Mr. Bryan appears to have the experience and outlook needed to tackle the needed reforms.

“It was at [Lighthouse School] that I first experienced the joy of watching students reach milestones that they never thought were possible,” Mr. Bryan said. “I am extremely excited about returning to the school in the capacity of principal, where I can continue to lift up this school as the beacon of hope that it has been for so many children and adults alike.”

On the Compass’s social media accounts, the news of Mr. Bryan’s appointment has already generated well over 100 responses — all of them positive. Here’s one representative comment: “We are sooooo happy!!! Our kids at LHS deserve the love, guidance and protection that Mr. Elroy gives.

“We’ve missed him so much … and are beyond thrilled that he’s finally coming back and as Principal — Bonus!!”

To that exuberant endorsement, we add our own congratulations and best wishes.

'I am the sort of guy that prefers to be 2-0 down and trying to come back and win 3-2. I like to be the underdog,' says John Gray High School Principal Jon Clark. - PHOTO: MATT LAMERS
‘I am the sort of guy that prefers to be 2-0 down and trying to come back and win 3-2. I like to be the underdog,’ says John Gray High School Principal Jon Clark. – PHOTO: MATT LAMERS

In last Friday’s Compass, we published an interview with new John Gray High School Principal Jon Clark, a longtime British educator. Enough ink, for the time being, has been devoted to the serious issues at John Gray, ranging from test scores, to the condition of facilities, to student misconduct.

Suffice it to say, in order to have success, Mr. Clark (who is a specialist in behavior management) must have recourse to every implement in the toolkit he has amassed in his distinguished career. Translation: The Ministry of Education bureaucrats should do their utmost to empower him by staying out of his way.

That being said, it appears the ministry has identified the right man for this difficult and worthy task — At least, he’s saying all the right things.

For example, here is a selection of quotes from our recent interview:

“I never want to go and take over as principal of a school that is already outstanding. I want to be on that journey.”

“My passion is for turning kids’ lives around. I think if we can harness the energy, resilience and the determination that these students have, the progress we can make will be huge.”

“I am the sort of guy that prefers to be 2-0 down and trying to come back and win 3-2. I like to be the underdog.”

And, perhaps our personal favorite — “The answer is always education.”

David Marshall
David Marshall

Last, but not least, there’s Dr. David Marshall, president of International College of the Cayman Islands. Since the American educator’s arrival in Cayman in spring 2014, he has doggedly pursued the admirable objective of raising the quality of ICCI graduates by raising the quality of ICCI’s standards. We can tell you this — It’s paying off, for the college and the students.

In February, 40 students received degrees from ICCI. That’s a good number. But here’s a better one: At the time of the commencement ceremony, 39 of those graduates had secured employment.

Dr. Marshall said, “We unequivocally vouch for each and every one of them as professionals who are prepared to take their rightful places in Cayman’s globally competitive workforce.”

He said, “The stellar performance of this class is evidence that ICCI’s move to raise academic standards is working.”

And if the education system is working, the graduates will, too.