Reading programs launch at Sir John A. Cumber

Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman volunteers Yentel McGaw and James O'Brien read with students Chandra McField and Germaine Webster.

Volunteers and Sir John A. Cumber Primary School staff recently got together to kick off their popular literacy programs aimed at young readers.

LIFE volunteers including executive director Marilyn Connolly were welcomed to the West Bay school on Monday to prepare for the year ahead, with an orientation by the school’s literacy coach Sarah Douglas.

At a separate orientation, the school also welcomed staff from The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, who give their time to read with students. The resort has been partnering with the school for over eight years. James O’Brien, director for the Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is a long-standing participant in the program, having been a volunteer since its inception in 2008.

During the meetings, school principal Paul Samuel welcomed the groups and expressed appreciation for their commitment. The students’ access to the extra reading time depends on the number of volunteers taking part, and the school estimates about 45 children will have the chance to take part in the reading programs this year.

Mr. Samuel urged the volunteers to encourage their colleagues and acquaintances to take part as well; all volunteers have to undergo a screening process as determined by the Ministry of Education.

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“The returns are endless,” said Sir John A. Cumber teacher and library resources coordinator Annette Vaughan.

The LIFE website states the nonprofit organization was founded in June 2012 by a group of Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Sunrise who were very concerned about literacy levels in the Cayman Islands.

“LIFE stands for ‘Literacy is for Everyone’ and our mission is to significantly increase literacy levels across the Cayman Islands,” notes the website.

At the school, volunteers read with students weekly to help them develop their literacy skills.

“LIFE is very pleased to have members of the public volunteer their time to read with these children,” said Ms. Conolly.

“The children are excited to see their readers, and look forward to these 30 minutes every week where they develop their reading skills in a supportive environment.”

For more information on volunteering with LIFE, contact [email protected] or visit


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