2023-2024 school year


Vol 4 Ed 34 2023-2024 SY 14 June 2024 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“You should sit in meditation twenty minutes every day - unless you are too busy; then you should sit in meditation for an hour.” - Zen Adage

Learning celebrations, moving up ceremonies, concerts, performances, exams and more - whilst the 2023 - 2024 school year is entering its denouement for students, planning for the future continues. This is the time of year when families may feel even busier than usual and perhaps become focused around immediate things. Thus the inclusion of the proverb above to remind us to breathe and be patient - even amid busy schedules, transitions, moving and change in general - the paradox of patient urgency if you will. 

Despite the world's many marvels and wonders, it continues to be a complex, uncertain, volatile, and ambiguous place. Joys sometimes succumb to sorrows. Anger sometimes overtakes happiness. Anxiety sometimes clouds contentment. Certainly we hope the power of joys, happiness and contentment prevail. During this school year a very brief cross section of world events include; more voters globally will vote / are voting in 2024 than ever in human history - at least 65 countries accounting for almost 50% of the world’s population, and sadly our world that is fatigued and polarized by violence and hatred with over 30 designated wars currently taking place such as the ongoing events in Israel and Gaza that mark a new level of devastation for a region already suffering, as well as war in Ukraine that continues. In research and science a human was implanted with a neuralink brain chip allowing the person to control a mouse by thinking. In sport, the PWHL (Professional Women’s Hockey League) completed their first season. In July the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics start. Man City won the English Premiership and Manchester United won the FA Cup - however these teams do not really matter in the grand scheme of things. In pop culture, Taylor Swift concerts took the world by storm and at the time of writing this message the highest grossing movie in 2024 so far is Dune: Part Two. Curiously, the three most viewed videos on YouTube all-time are 1) Baby Shark, 2) Despacito, 3) Johnny Johnny - Yes Papa. Social media continues to have both positive and negative influences on people. Overuse of, and addiction to social media continues to be harmful to people’s mental and physical health. The ability to wisely curate information has become more critical than ever as propaganda related to news and marketing is ubiquitous. There is a chance that some, if not all of the items noted above have affected or will affect you this year or perhaps later.

Looking closer to home - during the 2023-2024 school year, what do you remember about our lovely home, the Cayman Islands? And of course, what do you remember about the 2023-2024 school year at CIS? No doubt you have many memories to consider, reminisce about, laugh about, and cherish. It is hoped that your memories are of more ‘ups’ than ‘downs.’ You may have memories of your academic successes and challenges, your development as an athlete, your growth as an artist, your friendships, your citizenship, and the support received from caring teachers, family and friends. Whatever the memories you see and feel in your mind’s eye, I hope they are accompanied by a smile when you think about the 2023-2024 school year (so far, noting that there is still 1% of the student school year remaining).

Please be reminded, there is no school for students on Monday, June, 17, 2024 due to the Public Holiday for King Charles’ III Birthday. Wishing you a pleasant long weekend - Sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 
 

Vol 4 Ed 33 2023-2024 SY 7 June 2024 JU
 
Dear CIS Community,
 
Something to Ponder
 
“Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” - Robert Fulghum
“I regret not having had more time with my kids when they were growing up.” - Tina Turner
 
Hurricane Season
We are currently in the Atlantic Tropical Storm and Hurricane Season. As a helpful reminder, at the end of this addition of the Director’s Wave are some frequently asked questions to help with understanding with respect to storms, the Cayman Islands, and schools.
 
Harbingers of Independence
We are now firmly in the month of June - this can be a month of milestones and celebrations in schools in the northern hemisphere. Graduation, learning celebrations, stepping up ceremonies, and other milestones in schools often are harbingers of different levels of independence. This is a critical and natural part of children growing - and it can be exhilarating, exciting, and challenging. This can sometimes be just as challenging for parents and helicopter parenting can set in. The rapid availability of information means parents and people constantly hear about dangers that can threaten children - some of these threats are rare, some exaggerated and some real. The result being that parents may feel heightened anxiety about their children’s well-being, safety, accomplishments, perceived dearth of accomplishments, over-comparison and of course potentially living vicariously through their children. The above may be manifested by parents attempting to over-protect their children from “bad” influences, parents over-judging themselves by their child’s behaviour and achievements, and more.
 
Below are some examples that demonstrate a parent or caring adult may be over-protective, over-involved with their child’s daily life.
  • Not allowing their child to make age-appropriate choices.
  • Forcing their child to wear a jacket when they have expressed they are not cold.
  • Cleaning their child’s room for them.
  • Stepping in to solve / negotiate disagreements and conflicts between their child (particularly tweens and teens) and their friends.
  • Over managing a high school student’s homework, assignments and projects.
  • Over monitoring a teen’s exercise and diet.
  • Intervening and doing something for a teenager to prevent them from potentially failing at something.
  • Communicating via text or other platform multiple times during the day while their child is in school, including college and university.
So, what can we as adults and parents do? The following easier said than done hints can be helpful.
  • Listen
    • Rather than imposing opinions and values … listen to children’s concerns and challenges. This can allow the child to solve things for themselves and at the same time know they have you there as support in the background.
  • Coach
    • Rather than stepping in to make decisions quickly or solve your child’s problem - consider asking your child (particularly teens) open-ended-questions such as, “What might be of help?” and “What are hoping might happen?”
  • Consequences
    • Rather than bailing your child out, let natural consequences materialize. This allows children to develop self responsibility and learn to make better choices next time.
  • Schedules
    • In the case of teens, there is limited or no need for parents to keep track of your child’s studying, homework, or other activities that don’t involve you - of course, this is easier said than done. When it is up to them to stay on track, teens feel a sense of autonomy and competence. Of course, it is helpful to offer tools and strategies if they’re having trouble staying organized.
  • Empower
    • The word and notion of empowerment can be, well empowering when done well. It can also be detrimental when not done well. Children and teens come equipped (via nature) and develop habits (nurture) with different tool kits and dispositions that may make it easier or harder to emotionally self-regulate or modulate their behaviour. They can make mistakes and / or misbehave because, indeed, this is a normal part of growing up. Learning and understanding boundaries, testing them, and being an occasional pest is often part of growing to a certain extent. Yet, there is a difference between legitimizing children’s and  teens’ feelings and letting such feelings and behaviour control or even run the show, so to speak. What people want is not always what they need. Sometimes the child asking to play one more video game or have another sleepover or asking for another toy or demanding to eat another ice cream just needs to be calmly and firmly told no.
  • Failure
    • No parent wants to see their child fail. Yet failing is a normal and inevitable part of life, particularly once children, and in particular, teens begin to have more interaction in the world without parental involvement. A loose synonym to failure might be experience - in fact, failure looked through the lens of experience can offer useful and relevant life lessons.
  • Easier Said Than Done
Wishing you a wonderful start to June - there is no doubt that children need guidance and support as they grow into young adults. And at the same time parents need to respect the boundaries in order for teens to mature and thrive.
 
Sincerely,
 
Jim
 
Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 
------

CIS in Relation to Tropical Storm and Hurricane Warnings FAQ
 
We are currently in the Atlantic Tropical Storm and Hurricane Season. Below are some frequently asked questions to help with understanding with respect to storms, the Cayman Islands, and schools.
Aside from my wind, weather, storm and hurricane apps on my device, where else can I find information about possible and or current storms near island?
  • 89.9 Radio Cayman is the Cayman Islands radio channel for such communication.
Please tell me about CIS actions in relation to hurricane season.
  • Please be reminded that CIS will be in line with recommendations and announcements made by the Ministry of Education and information from Hazard Management Cayman Islands in the event that schools are to be closed due to tropical storm warnings and potential developments into hurricane conditions.
  • CIS receives notices from, and is in communication with, the Ministry of Education regarding mandates, direction and guidelines regarding school closures and openings during storm season.
    • The above is also in conjunction with their communication with Hazard Management Cayman Islands and the Governor’s Office.
Storms vary in magnitude, timing and direction. Sometimes schools, services and offices etc. are advised to be closed yet a storm changes direction and we end up with just a blustery day.
  • Decisions with respect to storms and schools on the Cayman Islands are made with abundance of caution in mind. Hurricane Ivan (September 2004 - Grand Cayman Island) and Hurricane Paloma (November 2008 - Cayman Brac and Little Cayman) remain, and for good reason, deep in the psyche of the Cayman Islands. The more recent Tropical Storm / Hurricane Grace (August 2021) is an example of a seemingly innocuous storm gaining strength and causing considerable damage.
  • Indeed it can be frustrating when the direction is that schools are to be closed and a storm passes us by or does not materialize as originally projected by authorities. Thus, creating the scenario of having no school for students on what could amount to merely a blustery day. People who have lived in the Cayman Islands or other storm susceptible regions for an extended period of time have no doubt experienced this.
  • It is frustrating for schools to close for sure. Since storm related decisions in the Cayman Islands are made with an abundance of caution in mind, the Cayman Islands and its schools choose to err on safety prudence. The notion is that it is better to have the frustration of a blustery day and no school, than to have school and have flooding, debris, traffic dangers and potential injury because a storm changed direction and schools remain open.
    • In the case of CIS over 3500 people have a scheduled interruption in the event of a school closure, informed in advance or otherwise (in the case of emergencies such as an earthquake or fire).
  • Of course, when an announcement is made that schools are to be closed and weather changes overnight and a storm passes, the benefits / debates of hindsight can begin. This can certainly happen if an All Clear announcement is made for the Cayman Islands the morning of a day when schools were announced the previous day to be closed. When this happens the schools and the Ministry of Education weigh in multiple factors, such as;
    • The timing of the All Clear, events scheduled on island, family plans made in light of storm warnings (i.e. child care, work schedules, time with children, clean-up, etc.) 
    • Availability of staff (i.e. child care issues (particularly, if some schools are open and some are closed), 
    • Home flooding, transport issues of CIS community
    • Cleaning protocols that may have been interrupted
    • Differences in power outages and other disrupted services around the island
    • Many of the above items may still affect people despite an All Clear. Such as conducting a comprehensive review of school infrastructure for function and safety (i.e. clean-up of debris, leaks, power supply, connectivity etc.). 
  • Thus a decision to remain closed as per prior announcements or to reopen on short notice (if there is good fortune for a storm to pass) is not taken lightly. If there has already been an announcement that schools will be closed, it is unlikely that such a decision will be reversed. In an effort to best balance information, communities’ diverse wishes and certainly people’s safety. CIS is reviewing its processes taking the best account possible in the future event of an early All Clear announcement. Of course noting that when an All Clear announcement is made by the Cayman Islands, they are also managing multiple interests such as, businesses possibly being anxious to open, environmental, utilities and safety authorities possibly preferring to delay an All Clear until risk assessments are thoroughly checked and double checked.
When is hurricane season and what does an average hurricane season look like?
  • The Atlantic Hurricane Season is six months and is considered 1 June to 30 November. Please know that storms can form outside of this season on occasion.
  • 2020 was the most active year in recorded history for hurricanes in the Atlantic. The trend is that the number of hurricanes each year is increasing and it is anticipated that the 2020’s will be very active.
I am new to the Cayman Islands and hear terms like depression, tropical storm, categories etc. What do these mean?
  • Tropical depressions and tropical storms are types of tropical cyclones. A depression has winds up to 38 miles/ hour (61 kilometres / hour). A tropical storm has wind speeds of 39 to 73 miles / hour (62 to 118 kilometres / hour). A tropical depression and a tropical storm have an identified centre.
  • These tropical cyclones (depressions and storms) become a hurricane if there are sustained winds of 74 miles / hour (119 kilometres / hour). The categories or rankings of hurricanes on the Saffir-Simpson Scale are as follows,
    • Category 1 - 74 to 95 miles / hour (119 to 153 Kilometres / hour).
    • Category 2 - 96 to 110 miles / hour (154 to 177 Kilometres / hour).
    • Category 3 - 111 to 130 miles / hour (155 to 209 Kilometres / hour).
    • Category 4 - 131 to 155 miles / hour (209 to 249 Kilometres / hour).
    • Category 5 - 156 miles / hour or greater (250 Kilometres / hour or greater.
  • Categories 3, 4 and 5 are considered major or intense hurricanes.
In the Cayman Islands I hear people mention Hurricane Ivan, why are hurricanes named?
  • A tropical cyclone is given a name when it becomes a tropical storm (thus tropical depressions are not given names). It is easier to keep track of and remember the name of a storm rather than its positioning by latitude and longitude. Naming storms also helps limit confusion when there is more than one storm or hurricane happening at the same time.
  • The names of English, Spanish and French origin. They are given in alphabetical order except the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z.
  • Some storm names are retired. This is when a storm caused so much destruction that it would be insensitive or confusing to use the name again. For example, the names Ivan and Paloma are retired.
 
What are some recommended sources of information regarding storm preparation and management?

Vol 4 Ed 32 2023-2024 SY 31 May 2024 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

"I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it." – Maya Angelou
“You cannot stop change anymore than you can stop the suns from setting.”  - Shmi Skywalker
 

June

The month of June is here. The month of June, for people studying in the northern hemisphere, most certainly can ignite the anticipation of summer in young people’s minds and hearts. While summer may  be felt in the air (certainly in the form of heat and humidity at the moment), there is still close to 7% of the student school year remaining. In Premier League Football terms that is close to three games remaining in the season. A quick glance at the final standings indicates the outcome of the last three games resulted in … Man City winning the league rather than Arsenal (I hear a lot of chatter about this on the playground and hallways), Aston Villa qualifying for the Champions League rather than Tottenham, Luton being relegated instead of Nottingham, and Tottenham rather than Chelsea qualifying for the Europa Group Stage. In sum, a lot happens in the final 7% of something - in the case of school great lessons continue, as do field trips, projects, celebrations, performances, assessments, new friendships develop , old friendships change, milestones are reached, good-byes happen, and much more.

Graduation

Today, our seniors graduate. Our 2024 graduating class is 49 people strong. This ties last year’s graduating class as the largest graduating class in CIS’ history. They will hold this record until 2025 when our graduating classes will be 60 or more people. Our soon to be graduates have collectively been in school about 670 years. As individuals they have engaged in at least 16,000 hours of classes, enjoyed/endured in the range of 2,000 to 4,000 hours of homework (depending on work style and habits), and participated in at least 1,500 hours of extracurricular activities.

Graduation ceremonies celebrate the student. Graduation though, is not just a landmark for students.  In many regards, graduation is also a celebration of the joys and challenges of teaching and parenthood. Some may even say that graduation may be more for parents and teachers than students. Teachers – the memories of classes, triumphs, challenges, learning and humour. Parents - watching your child cross the stage to receive a well-earned diploma is a time of intense pride and nostalgia – how did time pass so fast – it can be a swirl of smiles and tears. The notion of swirls of smiles and tears, is not merely an attempt at being poetic - it is a reality of Graduation Day.

Wishing you a smooth transition to June and a pleasant weekend - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 
REMINDER FROM THE PREVIOUS DIRECTOR WAVE

The school is in the process of establishing the calendar for the 2026-2027 School Year. To help with this process we kindly ask you to complete the survey below to gather community input regarding the draft calendar for the 2026-2027 school year.

Thank you in advance for your time (the survey takes about 5 minutes). Please note that the survey closes on Tuesday, 4 June 2024. To assist, an email reminder will be sent to the CIS Community to provide feedback on the draft calendar. *If you desire more information about the parameters for CIS Calendars and frequently asked questions, please see the information below:

Calendar Parameters Synopsis
  • Minimum of 925 hours of instruction hours for students of mandatory schooling age in The Cayman Islands, as per Cayman Islands regulations.
  • Professional Days
    • Minimum 6 In-service Days before the first days of school for students (includes New Student / Family Orientation)
    • At least 3 Professional In-Service Days during the school year (If feasible these occur after a weekend or break or are aligned with a public holiday)
  • First day of school for students aspires to be in the second last or last full week in August (looking to maximize class time, within reason, before the last Wednesday in April in relation to world timing for IB DP exams) and ends the third full week in June
  • Designated Student Breaks
    • Mid-Term Break (October)
    • Winter Break (December / January and in line with The Cayman Islands Public Holidays for Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year)
    • Mid-Term Break (If feasible in line with Cayman Islands Public Holiday for Ash Wednesday)
    • Spring Break (In line with Cayman Islands Public Holiday for Good Friday and Easter Monday)
    • No student school days during the month of July
  • Be mindful of Cayman Islands Government School Calendars and Cayman Islands Government and Private Schools Calendar tendencies.
  •  The Cayman Islands Public Holidays are no school for students and staff
    • New Year’s Day - 1 January
    • National Heroes’ Day - The Fourth Monday in January
    • Ash Wednesday - Forty-Six days before Easter Sunday (the first Sunday following the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox)
    • Good Friday - The Friday before Easter Sunday
    • Easter Monday - The Monday after Easter Sunday
    • Emancipation Day - First Monday in May
    • Discovery Day - Third Monday in May
    • Caymanian General Election - In applicable years
    • Monarch’s Birthday - The Monday after the Saturday in June that is designated as the official holiday observance in the UK. Generally the Monday after the second Saturday in June. This date does have a tendency to change.
    • Constitution Day - The first Monday in July
    • Remembrance Day - Second Monday in November
    • Christmas Day - 25 December
    • Boxing Day - 26 December
  • In the event a holiday is declared for participation in local elections, professional staff who are eligible voters in Grand Cayman shall be granted a holiday only when the polling day falls on a regular Monday through Friday workday.
Additional FAQ’s Regarding Calendars
A minimum of 925 hours of instruction hours for students of mandatory schooling age in The Cayman Islands is noted - How many instruction hours does CIS generally actually provide to students?
  • A CIS student in Middle School or High School typically has about 1,215 hours. This does not include additional studies that happen afterschool – thus a typical student might have in the vicinity of 1,400 when factoring things like engaging in robotics afterschool, sport, art etc.
  • A CIS student in Elementary School has about 1,170 hours.
  • When considering school hours, a typical CIS student with a typical attendance record has the equivalent of 5 to 40 more days of instruction relative to other schools on island – excluding the time students may engage in afterschool / office hours programming.
Does ISS have a minimum and/or recommended number of instructional hours?
  • No. Generally, though an international school would have a range of school days being 175 to 185 days depending on the country regulations and length of the school day.
I notice you share compare and contrast information of CIS fees with some other like international schools. Would they all generally have a similar number of instructional hours?
Yes, the schools would have a similar number of instructional hours. And it would not be uncommon that they would have about 45 hours less.
 

Vol 4 Ed 31 2023-2024 SY 24 May 2024 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Technology is cool, but you’ve got to use it as opposed to letting it use you.” - Prince

Each year the school works to establish future calendars that balance the varied desires of the school community, whilst meeting the needs of students and curricular programming, as well as fitting the school’s policies and The Cayman Islands Government in relation to calendar parameters. Each year the school sends a calendar survey to the CIS Community. No school calendar is perfect for each person or group. We all have various preferences / biases that we want to see in a school calendar. Because of these biases / preferences and the nuances of calendars, it is helpful to consider the words of the philosopher Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones for advice, namely, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”

The school is in the process of establishing the calendar for the 2026-2027 School Year. To help with this process we kindly ask you to complete the survey below to gather community input regarding the draft calendar for the 2026-2027 school year.

Thank you in advance for your time (the survey takes about 5 minutes). Please note that the survey closes on Tuesday, 4 June 2024. To assist, an email reminder will be sent to the CIS Community to provide feedback on the draft calendar. *If you desire more information about the parameters for CIS Calendars and frequently asked questions, please see the information after the valediction of this message.

Wishing you a pleasant weekend - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
_____
 
Calendar Parameters Synopsis
  • Minimum of 925 hours of instruction hours for students of mandatory schooling age in The Cayman Islands, as per Cayman Islands regulations.
  • Professional Days
    • Minimum 6 In-service Days before the first days of school for students (includes New Student / Family Orientation)
    • At least 3 Professional In-Service Days during the school year (If feasible these occur after a weekend or break or are aligned with a public holiday)
  • First day of school for students aspires to be in the second last or last full week in August (looking to maximize class time, within reason, before the last Wednesday in April in relation to world timing for IB DP exams) and ends the third full week in June
  • Designated Student Breaks
    • Mid-Term Break (October)
    • Winter Break (December / January and in line with The Cayman Islands Public Holidays for Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year)
    • Mid-Term Break (If feasible in line with Cayman Islands Public Holiday for Ash Wednesday)
    • Spring Break (In line with Cayman Islands Public Holiday for Good Friday and Easter Monday)
    • No student school days during the month of July
  • Be mindful of Cayman Islands Government School Calendars and Cayman Islands Government and Private Schools Calendar tendencies.
  •  The Cayman Islands Public Holidays are no school for students and staff
    • New Year’s Day - 1 January
    • National Heroes’ Day - The Fourth Monday in January
    • Ash Wednesday - Forty-Six days before Easter Sunday (the first Sunday following the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox)
    • Good Friday - The Friday before Easter Sunday
    • Easter Monday - The Monday after Easter Sunday
    • Emancipation Day - First Monday in May
    • Discovery Day - Third Monday in May
    • Caymanian General Election - In applicable years
    • Monarch’s Birthday - The Monday after the Saturday in June that is designated as the official holiday observance in the UK. Generally the Monday after the second Saturday in June. This date does have a tendency to change.
    • Constitution Day - The first Monday in July
    • Remembrance Day - Second Monday in November
    • Christmas Day - 25 December
    • Boxing Day - 26 December
  • In the event a holiday is declared for participation in local elections, professional staff who are eligible voters in Grand Cayman shall be granted a holiday only when the polling day falls on a regular Monday through Friday workday.
Additional FAQ’s Regarding Calendars
A minimum of 925 hours of instruction hours for students of mandatory schooling age in The Cayman Islands is noted - How many instruction hours does CIS generally actually provide to students?
  • A CIS student in Middle School or High School typically has about 1,215 hours. This does not include additional studies that happen afterschool – thus a typical student might have in the vicinity of 1,400 when factoring things like engaging in robotics afterschool, sport, art etc.
  • A CIS student in Elementary School has about 1,170 hours.
  • When considering school hours, a typical CIS student with a typical attendance record has the equivalent of 5 to 40 more days of instruction relative to other schools on island – excluding the time students may engage in afterschool / office hours programming.
Does ISS have a minimum and/or recommended number of instructional hours?
  • No. Generally, though an international school would have a range of school days being 175 to 185 days depending on the country regulations and length of the school day.
I notice you share compare and contrast information of CIS fees with some other like international schools. Would they all generally have a similar number of instructional hours?
Yes, the schools would have a similar number of instructional hours. And it would not be uncommon that they would have about 45 hours less.
 

Vol 4 Ed 30 2023-2024 SY 17 May 2024 JU

Something to Ponder

“Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence.” - Bernard Beckett
 
This weekend is a long weekend as the Cayman Islands celebrates Discovery Day. Discovery Day pays homage to the “discovery” of the Cayman Islands in 1503. At this time the islands were described as Las Tortugas because of the volume of turtles found around the islands. Certainly the islands were seen by other people sailing by, long before the voyages of Columbus. Nonetheless, he decided to name and write about the islands - thus from a European perspective he is credited as the “discoverer.” What an excellent example of those who write history tend to get the credit. 
 
Writing involved various alphabets and an alphabet is something we sometimes take for granted - but it is critical for literacy in order to record, share and preserve thoughts, ideas, inventions and much more - including having your name listed as a discoverer. An alphabet allows us to complement oral history with written history. From carving letters into stone…to the wooden blocks of Gutenberg’s printing press… to chalkboards of one room school houses…to liner notes written on your favourite album jacket (i.e. Abbey Road or Purple Rain or Up to Here)…to text messaging a friend…to a 280 character tweet on X…to a quick snapchat note…to emojis (like them or not emojis have become ubiquitous)... to the easily recognized forced authenticity of writing from Chat GPT and Copilot (can anyone say the overuse of the words delve, multi-faceted and transferable) - an alphabet helps us communicate, record and share. Indeed the written alphabet allows us to enjoy the works of Atwood, Chaucer, Coelho, Edugyan, Gladwell, Homer, Joyce, Marquez, Munch, Tolstoy, our own children, and a million others – not to mention write love letters, scribble reminders, endure the potential scourge of a spammed email or an email sent in anger rather than reflection, write a research paper, and cherish homemade cards from our children.
 
In appreciation of the alphabet, I invite you to consider the following this long weekend…
  • If you have children in Nursery to kindergarten …
    • Ask them to tell you a story so you can write it down
    • Have them show you how they like to write stories
  •  If you have children in grades one to grade five …
    • Ask them to read you a story over the weekend
    • Ask them if you can read them your favourite story when you were younger
  • If you have children in grades six through ten …
    • Ask them to show you a website they find particularly interesting and read an article or post together
    • Have them teach you how to text really fast
  • If you have a child in grade eleven or twelve …
    • Ask to read one of the essays they have written this year
    • Share with them the nature of the works that you might read for pleasure or professional reasons
  • If you do not have children in school …
    • Sit back and read a book of your choice - perhaps about the history of The Cayman Islands, especially noting that the two long weekends in May appear to the juxtaposed Emancipation Day and Discovery Day.
Wishing you pleasant weekend - sincerely,
 
Jim
 
Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 


Vol 4 Ed 29 2023-2024 SY 10 May 2024 JU

 

Something to Ponder

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” - James Baldwin

Yesterday while walking home I almost witnessed an accident. A failed to stop at a stop sign. As I looked closer to see what was going on, the driver did not have their eyes on the road nor their hands upon the wheel (to paraphrase lyrics from the Doors, Roadhouse Blues). They were texting - texting with what appeared to be great fervour. I assumed it must have been an extremely important text that could not wait.

This was a stark reminder that we, in the Cayman Islands, have a traffic fatality rate of about 18 people per year per 100,000 people. This is a similar rate as Kuwait, Nicaragua and Sri Lanka - and higher than Morocco, Syria, and India. We all are familiar that texting whilst driving is a serious distraction, and also can create an impairment of greater risk than drinking while driving -which of course in itself is very dangerous.

As the island’s population grows and the number of cars on the road increases (noting the number of households with multiple cars), prudent driving, cycling and walking will be that much more important. This is perhaps magnified by tourists unfamiliar with driving on the left side of the road. Safety on the roads is something that we can have personal control in making things safe for ourselves, loved ones and people around us. In 2022 the average number of road collisions per week in the Cayman islands reached 56. This often contributed to traffic jams and more worrisome - injuries and fatalities. Add speed into the equation, plus the glare of the sun or perhaps a slippery road, and one can see the risk. In fact, the CDC reports that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in children, adolescents and teens.

We can control what we are doing when driving, particularly near the school - we can remain alert, we can be unimpaired and we can control our speed - some numbers to consider with respect to speeding.

The speed limit in a school zone in the Cayman Islands is 15 miles/hour which is about 24 kilometres / hour.

The distance from the turning circle to the three-way stop interaction by the high school is 450 metres or .28 miles. Traveling at the school zone speed limit of 15 miles/hour maximum, it takes about 1 minute and 8 seconds to travel from the turning circle to the High School three way stop. If one drives 30 miles/hour it takes about 34 seconds to travel the same distance. Thus if a person drives twice as fast they may save a mere 34 seconds.

Traveling at the school zone speed limit of 15 miles/hour maximum, it takes about 50 seconds (including stopping at both three-ways stops) to travel from the main road, down Breakwater Avenue to the three-way stop at Minerva Drive, to the three-way stop between the Early Childhood building and the ARC. If one drives 30 miles / hour it takes about 28 seconds. Thus if a person drives twice as fast they save 22 seconds.

In The Cayman Islands if one drives 30 miles/hour in a school zone they lose their license for six months to a year. Thus, in theory, to gain 34 seconds coming from the south or to gain 22 seconds one would lose their license for at least six months if caught speeding in a school zone, not to mention increase the risk of harming someone.

Please drive with care in the roads around the school and parking lots, watching for people and being patient with fellow drivers. At one time or another, a person probably has heard the phrase speed kills. Circling back to the notion of wisdom in song lyrics - Prince’s wisdom from Little Red Corvette noted that, you are much too fast and you got to slow down (got to slow down).

On a more celebratory note, this weekend marks Mother’s Day celebrations in several countries around the world. Aside from flowers, homemade art, breakfast in bed, peace and quiet we can all appreciate that perhaps the most valued celebration for mothers is having their children near.

Wishing you a pleasant weekend - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 28 2023-2024 SY 3 May 2024 JU

Something to Ponder

Below is a recent photo taken of the plaque on the main stairs of the Great House at Pedro St. James.

 

Emancipation Day is a recently reinstated national holiday in the Cayman Islands. The Cayman Islands approved the formal recognition of Emancipation Day and reinstated it as a public holiday starting May 2024. The Cayman Islands previously observed Emancipation Day but was replaced with the Constitution Day holiday in the 1960s.

In the “New World” or the Americas, the most notable European nations involved in slavery were Portugal, Spain, Britain, France, Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. Records demonstrate that Britain started extensive slavery through private trading and business companies in the early seventeenth century. The Royal African Company, based in London was especially prominent.

The United Nations, notes that, for four hundred years, enslaved Africans fought for their freedom, while colonial powers and others committed horrific crimes against them. Their lives were ruled by terror, as they endured rape, floggings, lynchings and other atrocities and humiliations. Many of those who organized and ran the transatlantic slave trade amassed huge fortunes. Meanwhile, the enslaved were deprived of education, healthcare, opportunity, and prosperity. Descendants of enslaved Africans and people of African descent are still fighting for equal rights and freedoms around the world.

Slavery dates back at least 10,000 years in human history, affecting a staggering number of peoples. Sadly, and appallingly slavery still exists in the world today. Modern slavery includes forced labour, debt bondage, slavery and slavery-like practices, as well as human trafficking. There are an estimated 40 million people enslaved in the world today - with 10 million being children. The 2023 Global Slavery Index indicated that the ten counties in the world with the current greatest prevalence of slavery (based on number of people enslaved per 1,000 people) are, in alphabetical order, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Kuwait, Mauritania, North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates. WIth respect to estimated absolute numbers and modern slavery, the most prevalent countries are in order India, China, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Indonesia, and Nigeria. With each of the above six countries estimated to have more than 1.5 million people in slavery and a combined 25 million people in slavery - and that is just six countries.

This year, Emancipation Day, is recognized on Monday 6 May in the Cayman Islands. Whilst this is a long weekend in the Cayman Islands, and long weekends inherently involve some elements of celebration, this may also be a time to consider our part to work for a world free from racism, discrimination, bigotry and hate.

Sincerely,

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

 


Vol 4 Ed 27 2023-2024 SY 26 April 2024 JU

Something to Ponder

“Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.” – - Buddha

 

 

In a connected world, accounting for the continued use of devices and platforms, it is estimated that by 2025 the number of interactions per connected person per day will be 4,785. Consider some fun with maths … at any given moment CIS has about 1200 people on campus. Thus the possibility of 5,742,000 interactions. Even if 99% of those interactions were helpful and positive, that results in 57,420 poor interactions. Conversely that is a whopping 5,684,580 helpful and positive interactions per day.

It is conservatively estimated that in a typical day a teacher makes about 1,500 decisions. With 142 teachers and teaching assistants on campus on a typical day that equates to 213,000 decisions. Even if 99% of those decisions were helpful and positive, that results in 2,130 poor decisions. Conversely that is a whopping 210,870 helpful and positive decisions per day.

The ritual and value of saying hello or good morning is considered not just good manners, but it helps people feel valued and seen, it is welcoming and it happens to be free. If 1,200 people on campus in the morning at CIS said good morning to each other, that would 719,400 greetings in the morning. I am sure if we accomplished such a feat that would be some sort of world record.

School Calendar

CIS prepares its school calendar well in advance to support long term planning for the school and families, for example the 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 calendars have been posted on the website since May 2023.

The government schools’ calendar tends to be confirmed in April / May for the start of each new school year. This difference in timing can result in differences in calendars. The 2024-2025 government calendar was just released and the October half-term break for students and teachers is October 21 to 25. The CIS 2024-2025 October half-term break, published in May 2022 is October 14 to 18. Some private schools on island with different October half-term breaks have decided to change their calendar to match the government schools’ calendars. There are advantages and disadvantages to aligned calendars.

There are advantages and disadvantages to changing a calendar after it's been released and planning has occurred.

To help with future planning, please know the CIS October half term for 2024-2025 will remain the same as published (October 14 to 18). Going forward, the school will be sending out a community survey to collect data regarding the notion of having future OCtober half-term dates as tentative and to be confirmed once the government school calendar is released.

Summary 2024-2025

  • CIS October half-term break remains October 14 -18
  • A survey, in addition to the regular calendar survey) will be sent on Friday 3 May 2024, to the CIS Community to collect data additional data on October half-term dates.

Wishing you a pleasant weekend - sincerely,

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

 


Vol 4 Ed 26 2023-2024 SY 19 April 2024 JU

Something to Ponder

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” – First Nations Proverb

A CIS student was visiting Starfish Point last week. Thousands of starfish on the beach had washed up along shore because of a big storm. Noticing the starfish needed help, the student started picking up starfish one by one and placing them back in the sea. The people playing on the beach watched this with amusement. The CIS student had been helping the starfish for some time when a man approached the student and said, “Why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!” These words saddened the student and they stopped helping the starfish. But after a few moments of thought, the CIS student bent down, picked up another starfish, and waded into the sea, placing the starfish in the tall grass in the water. The student then looked up at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one!” The man looked at the student with curiosity and thought for a moment. Inspired, he joined the student in putting starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.*

Monday, 22 April is  also known as Earth Day. The premise and notion behind Earth Day requires all of us to think and act with posterity/sustainability in mind. This is something that is not easy to do. “What can one person do to make a difference?” This classic, yet ever so poignant question is something we can all ask ourselves regardless of our age. Once establishing the one thing that one person can do, the challenge then is to follow through. For us as adults this can be even more difficult in light of some of our habits that have been formed, validated and solidified for many years. Thus, it is often easier for adults to talk about the things one should do for the posterity of our planet, rather than act. For example, young people do not necessarily listen to teachers, parents, grandparents, coaches, mentors and the like – young people do however watch and observe very well. Young people have phenomenal hypocrisy sensors. Some classic green tips to reduce one’s carbon footprint include, flying less, driving less, eating less meat, turning off the lights, and reducing before reusing or recycling.

Naturally, in an ideal world, every day should be Earth Day and everyday should be about peace and kindness too for that matter - the stark reality is that this is certainly easier said than done. This weekend is a great time to talk with and listen to our children about the complex topics of sustainability, posterity, kindness and peace - it is a great time to ask your child(ren) about any questions, concerns, ideas they have with respect to making our world a better place for today and tomorrow.

On a lighter note, if all else fails, and your children do not wish to talk about the above topics - you can always wonder with them about the following classic questions … Why is the object of golf to play less golf than your opponent? … If James Bond is the most famous spy, doesn’t this make him a terrible spy? … Do you think it is odd that the letter “W” starts with a D?

Wishing you a pleasant weekend - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

* Please note that the above starfish story is adapted from 'The Star Thrower' by Loren C. Eiseley

 


Vol 4 Ed 25 2023-2024 SY 12 April 2024 JU

Something to Ponder

“If Apple’s a technology company in the music industry, why can’t somebody in the music industry make technology?” - will.i.am

“Disco is the first technology music. And what I mean is that 'disco' music is named after discs, because when technology grew to where they didn't need a band in the clubs, the DJ played it on a disc.” -  will.i.am

“There are five issues that make a fist of a hand that can knock America out cold. They are the lack of jobs, obesity, diabetes, homelessness, and lack of good education.” - will.i.am

Conferences

Participating in parent conferences is an example of parent involvement. Balanced parent involvement can result in stronger academic achievement, better learning habits, and decreased behavioural challenges. Indeed, the best predictor of a student’s success in school is not social status or income. The strongest predictors of student success tend to be if a family,

  • Eats meals together
  • Has a home environment that encourages learning and mutual respect
  • Expresses high, yet not unrealistic expectations for children
  • Is appropriately involved (i.e. not hovering or helicoptering, yet not overly laissez-faire) in their child’s education
  • Is appropriately involved (i.e. not overbearing, yet not apathetic) within the community

We are fortunate to have two formal conference sessions during the school year, as well as FSA meetings,  back-to-school evenings, community learning meetings, parent meetings and more, to foster parent involvement at CIS, in addition to the weekly newsletter (The Weekly Current). The second conferences of this school year are Thursday 18 April afterschool and Friday 19 April all day. Please be reminded that on Friday 19 April 2024 there are no classes for students. Prior to the conferences (27 March 2024) you will have already received communication on how to sign-up for the conferences, the conference sign-ups are open until 17 April 2024).

What are some hints to help the conferences be helpful for me, the teacher, and my child?

  • To assist with the conferences, below are some tried and true hints.
    • Show appreciation for teachers and your child’s work.
    • Try to be open-minded. Listen first, reflect and then act.
    • Discuss the issues rather than the teachers.
    • It is okay to feel defensive on behalf of your child, but act as an advocate, not an excuse-maker.
    • Remember that it is okay to be a real person. It is helpful to let the teacher know that you struggle with parenting; everyone does. The teacher also struggles with teaching (and may be a parent as well).
    • Remember that we are all on the same side – we all want each child to be as successful as possible.
  • In the case of student-led conferences, what are some helpful questions to ask my child?
    • How much time did you dedicate to your project / PBL?
    • Do you prefer to work with a partner, in a group or by yourself?
    • What are some of your strengths?
    • What things are you working on to improve?
    • Who do you sit with at lunch / play with at recess?
    • What are ways I may help you with your learning?

Whether you are watching the “You Gotta a Tri,” relaxing or spending time with family or joining in on the food opportunities on island or possibly going to the Black Eyed Peas concerts this evening - wishing you a pleasant weekend - sincerely,

j.i.m.

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 


Vol 4 Ed 24 2023-2024 SY 28 March 2024 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”  - Pablo Picasso

Yesterday was the CIS Art Exhibit opening. In walking through I heard parents and students comments such as, “Wow!” “Who Knew?” ”That’s heavy and deep.” “I love the flow.” “That scares me.” “Kids did that.” “Where did that idea come from?” “I’m coming back tomorrow.” “Can I buy these?” “How do you do that?” “I wish I had this when I was in school.”

The aspiration is that CIS students can improve their learning, learn more about the world, learn more about people, take risks, apply theory to novel situations, utilize new technologies, and learn more about themselves via the arts - not to mention the unique combination of creativity, resilience, innovation, peace of mind, and discipline that can unfold from engagement in the arts.

Arts education can sometimes be riddled with extreme highs and lows. From a literal standpoint you have visual expression brightening one’s day to a new height or the folly of society being exposed that brings the view to deep contemplation and self reflection. From a monetary standpoint there are also highs and lows in arts education. For example, in 2021, the arts contributed the equivalent of about 115 billion KYD to the UK economy. In stark contrast, spending on arts education in the UK during that time was just under 10 KYD per student - or the equivalent cost of a box of pastels … imagine if it was funded to the equivalent of 20 kg of clay and one 3D printer each. A sampling of seven other things to contemplate in relation to arts education include,

  • Arts education experiences tend to reduce the proportion of students in schools with disciplinary issues.

  • Acting together and playing music together brings people together and enhances teamwork.

  • Students with high arts participation and low socioeconomic status have a 4 percent dropout rate—five times lower than their low socioeconomic status peers and low-income students who are highly engaged in the arts are twice as likely to graduate college as their peers with no arts education. Access to the arts matters. For example, in the USA, Black and Hispanic students lack access to quality arts education compared to their White peers, earning an average of 30 and 25 percent fewer arts credits, respectively.

  • Visual arts teach people about colour, layout, perspective, and balance. These are helpful with respect to invention and design.

  • Music education helps with neural pathways and spatial awareness which in turn support creativity and problem solving skills.

  • The arts can offer opportunities to explore the human condition and express ideas, learning and feelings in different ways. How often a favourite movie, favourite song, favourite painting result in a flood of memories?

  • Sometimes performing arts and visual arts are the first things to be removed from education programs because they are unfortunately considered non-essential, don’t lend themselves well to “hard data” and can be considered unmeasurable. In considering measurement - not everything that can be measured is important and not everything that is important can be measured.

Wishing you a pleasant break - The spring holiday often sees the convergence of important monotheistic holy days and times within the Jewish, Christian (Eastern and Western) and Islamic Calendars. May we all find time for peace and make a difference regardless of our beliefs. Criculing back to Picasso’s idea, may art wash the dust of daily life off our souls.

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 23 2023-2024 SY 8 March 2024 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.”  - Charlotte Whitton (Mayor of Ottawa, 1951-1956; 1960-1964)
 
Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. Women and girls make up more than 50% of humanity. They lead, facilitate and / or play critical roles in all aspects of life. Yet the reality is that still to this day women are the most persecuted people in the world regardless of their country of origin.
According to 2023 data published in US News, the ten best countries to live in if you are women are: 10) Germany, 9) Australia, 8) New Zealand, 7) Switzerland, 6) Canada, 5) Finland, 4) Netherlands, 3) Denmark, 2) Norway, 1) Sweden. Before the above countries feel proud and perhaps even a little smug on this positive ranking, it is important to point out that even the above countries do not have the best records regarding human rights, income equality, progress and safety for women. If you are not a woman or girl, imagine what challenges women and girls face in countries and/or locations with limited resources, diminished opportunities for education, and uneven availability of health care, not to mention safety and security issues, income inequality in most professions, and the continued scourge of domestic abuse and violence in all locations around the world.
 
It is no secret that education plays a crucial role in addressing human rights, and the above mentioned issues that women face. The challenge is that inevitably there can be more questions than solutions - more examples of unfairness than fairness. May we as adults and young people work together with our children to better understand issues of human rights, the gender income gap and progress and safety for women. Below are five insights from pioneers, change makers, and pace setters.
 
  • ”Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.” -  Charlotte Whitton
  • “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” -  Helen Keller
  • “I never ran my train off the track, and I never lost a passenger.” - Harriet Tubman
  • “There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.” - Indira Gandhi
  • “I feel sorry sometimes for these sportsmen and women who put in just as much effort as the footballers. For example, athletes train at least as hard as footballers but have to be happy if they can earn enough to finance a decent education.” - Angela Merkel
If you have not already, today is a very fitting day to talk with your mom, sister, grandmother, aunt, close friend, or partner to share appreciation, and to learn more with respect to how they see the world, and the challenges and the successes they experienced.
 
Sincerely,
Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 22 2023-2024 SY 1 March 2024 JU

Dear CIS Community,

The recent events at the Ed Bush Sports Field in West Bay are disturbing, particularly when considering it was at a publicly open soccer match that by design is to build community and support, rather than community concern.

Safety - Drills

The following is a reminder from our August and January welcome letters. Safety is vital for schools. All CIS faculty and staff engage in emergency procedure training and review. We all are also certified in CPR,  first aid and Child Protection. Schools in the Cayman Islands are required to conduct safety drills on a regular basis, in fact schools are required to conduct a minimum of 10 fire drills per school year (indeed our most recent was a planned unannounced drill earlier this week), in addition to other drills such as earthquake and lockdown drills. Our first drills each school year are done during in-service days with staff only. Subsequent drills happen with students. These happen on a rotation of fire drills, earthquake and tsunami drills and lockdown drills.

  • Earthquake and Tsunami Drills - Initial earthquake drills do not include a tsunami component. Subsequent earthquake drills include a tsunami warning component which involves all people on campus moving to designated second and third story areas on campus.

  • Lockdown Drills - There are two types of lockdown drills. Lockdown 1 refers to practice if there is a dangerous situation near the school, but off campus. Lockdown 2 refers to practice if there is a dangerous situation on school grounds.

  • Fire Drills - Over the course of the school year the complexity of fire drills tend to increase. For example, early in the school year fire drills happen during more predictable times such as when all students are in class. Later in the school year, practice can happen during lunches or other transition times.

Early in the school year, the school calmly announces the purpose of the drill, prior to the start of a drill. As noted above, as the school year progresses drills tend to be conducted in more complex scenarios and less preamble before the drill to ensure the school is prepared as best as possible in the event of an emergency. Whilst some children and adults may become anxious in drill scenarios, it is important that all actively participate in the drills so in the rare event it is necessary, all people on campus may respond in the safest, most prudent and calmest manner possible. Related to this, it is critical that parents and guardians do not drive or arrive at school in the midst of an emergency because this can impede communication, as well as emergency services access to school. After each drill the school's Crisis Management Team (CMT) meets in order to look for ways to further enhance the safety of our students and staff should the rare occasion arise that a live emergency situation happens.

School Access

CIS’ campus, like most school’s on island has a level of accessibility by CIS community members as well as off instructional hours by community members engaged in weekend events such as various sports (i.e. Gaelic Football and the Camana Bay Aquatic Club), community groups (i.e. Pink Ladies Bazaar) and school-based activities (i.e. Destination Imagination and Theatrical Performances). The fact that schools in the Cayman Islands have a relatively open feel is one of the many things that attract people to schools here - the so-called feeling of a school looking like or being like a prison is not part of the Cayman Islands.

It is important to know that there are access procedures that help ensure safety and awareness of who is on campus and help manage campus access.

Not long ago, the school did not have a physical barrier around its perimeter. Longer standing parents, staff and students no doubt recall this, and on occasion when frustrated with sign in procedures or closed gates are quick to vocalize this. In turn, CIS is fortunate to have various physical barriers around the perimeter of the school, including natural flora, chain link fence, stonewall features, and the white metal fences. Much of these are to help ensure our youngest students do not wander to harm's way, as well as to mitigate potential child protection issues.

Visibility

Supporting the sign in procedures and the physical perimeter we also have a virtual perimeter, as well as internal monitoring via 122 cameras on campus. Each school day there are over 140 scheduled duties, excluding general presencing - which further adds to visibility. We also have National Security guards stationed on campus during the instructional day and outside the instructional day hours.

Amid the protocols and community courtesies shared above, we know that happy children tend to enjoy school more, and thus take the opportunity to work a bit harder and learn a bit more, too.

Wishing you a good start to the month of March.

Be well,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 21 2023-2024 SY 23 February 2024 JU
 
Dear CIS Community,
 
Something to Ponder
Since the re-enrollment period commenced, I have been asked a few questions about school budgets. In this edition of the Director’s Wave, I aim to provide some additional clarity on the common questions asked regarding this increase.
 
What is the distribution of expenses?
  • 61% of the school's expenses are staff salary and benefits. 39% of the school’s expenses include; utilities, rent,  maintenance, repairs, educational resources and materials, professional fees, insurance, Cayman Citizen Scholarship and depreciation.
What percentage of school income comes from tuition fees?
  • Almost 97% of the school’s income comes from tuition fees. The remaining 3% comes from other sources such as school clubs, aftercare, and payment for online classes (noting that these are also expenses).
I have noticed that tuition fees seem to increase at CIS and other schools my children have attended. Is this a recent trend? Is tuition going to increase each year?
  • This is not a recent trend, though the percentage of tuition increases in schools have been typically higher over the past twenty years. Yes, the trends in education costs indicate a typical average of 5% increase in education costs each year, excluding inflation rates. The increase in CIS’ tuition fees from the 2023-2024 school year to the 2024-2025 school year is 4.5%.
  • Of note, according to the Caribbean News Global and Trading Economics The Cayman Islands’ 2023 second-quarter inflation rate was 4.1%. (first-quarter inflation was 6.6%) The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the second quarter was 130.4, with higher price indices recorded in 10 of the 12 divisions an example: cost of food has increased 7 percent vs YTD).
Is the increase in tuition going to support CIS teachers and staff?
  • Yes, teachers and staff will see increases of 1% to 3% depending on a person’s role, education level, qualifications and experience. The remainder of the increase goes to address increased costs related to operations of the school and to ensure the school is able to have a reserve for capital improvements as well as an operation reserve.
If most of the school’s income comes from tuition, what is the projected enrollment for 2024-2025 school year?
  • The projected enrollment is 1005 for the 2024-2025 school year. Of note, due to discounted fees in cases of families having more than one child at the school, for example. Therefore, the school’s income is not the equivalent of 1005 multiplied by the requisite tuition fees.
CIS is one of the most expensive schools in the Cayman Islands; several other schools have a lower tuition. What contributes to CIS’ expense?
  • Some items that contribute to CIS’ fees are a favourable teacher to student ratio, quality and breadth of programming, resources, cost of insurance, levels of professional developments, location rent, and facilities.
I am rarely asked the following question and it is helpful to be aware of comparative information on school fees and other similar international schools?
  • The chart below compares school fees in locations where families tend to move from to the Cayman Islands, as well as regional schools of similar enrollment and facilities. USD Exchange Rate as of 21 February 2024; Cost of Living Rank best on Numbeo and World Data Info; Consumer Prices including rent as of 21 February 2024 from Numbeo - Green Highlight = More Desirable Data Than The Cayman Islands / CIS. - Yellow Highlight = Data Comparable to the Cayman Islands / CIS. - Red Highlight = Data Less Desirable Than the Cayman Islands / CIS
 
I have reviewed the chart you share regarding tuition fees relative to cost of living and locations before. I am curious, how do CIS students' academic achievement compare to these schools?
  • Of the eight schools above, four are non-selection admissions, including CIS, and four are selective admissions (meaning they only accept students if they achieve, for example above a certain level on an entrance exam, for example, above the 90th percentile. CIS compares similarly or above its listed counterparts of non-selective admissions schools. Our IB Diploma scores are slightly below that of the selective admissions schools listed. CIS continues to surpass world-wide norms and regional norms with respect to the IBDP (International Baccalaureate Diploma) and MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) assessments in all grades. Detailed slides regarding MAP and IBDP results are Found Here. Also, according to the Office of Education Standards, CIS is the only school in the history of the Cayman Islands from Early Childhood to High School to be rated excellent. The inspections investigate six standards; 1) Student achievement in Maths, Science and English, 2) Student personal and social development, 3) Effective teaching, 4) Curriculum, 5) Student safety and support, 6) School leadership and links to the community. The CIS Inspection Report is Found Here.
Where can I get additional information on the CIS budget?
  • At the next FSA (Family School Association) meeting on Thursday 14 March at 6pm one of the agenda items will include a presentation regarding the CIS budget.
Wishing everyone a pleasant weekend as the leap year day approaches.
 
Sincerely,
Jim
 
Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 20 2023-2024 SY 2 February 2024 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder - Report Cards

Granting that our children talk with their parents…noting that the school communicates with parents …and although students talk regularly with their teachers…report card day may still be an anxious day for students - and for some parents too.

Comedic musing on a possible difference between people with children in school and those without. Tiesto (a famed Dutch DJ), notes ... “I would love to fall in love and get married and have beautiful children. I mean that's one of the goals in life, I think, to have, and it's a beautiful thing. My sister has kids and all my friends have kids. They show me their, you know their report cards. And I can show them my sports car.”

Ralph Lauren shares these thoughts … “We all get report cards in many different ways, but the real excitement of what you're doing is in the doing of it. It's not what you're gonna get in the end - it's not the final curtain - it's really in the doing it, and loving what you're doing. “I didn't have a vision as in, This is where I'm going. I had a vision as in, this is what I love to do." 

And finally, considering February 2nd  is considered Ground Hog Day in a few counties, I thought it fitting to share a sample letter that I have shared previously. This sample letter, in its time would have gone viral on social media. Alas, it was written long before the internet and social media was in common use.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I’ve asked the receptionist to give you this as soon as you get back to the office, so you’ll know where I am. Alex’s mom is taking me to the airport. I will be flying to Panama. I met a nice person from there when we were on holiday. They said I could move in with them.

 I am doing this because I feel terrible for setting the house on fire. I fell asleep while smoking. The firefighter told me I need to be more careful and that I should talk with the police about how the fire started. I know this is one of many mistakes I have made. Fortunately, for me, I only burnt my right leg, ripped my shirt and cracked a rib while running to save the family photo album and the calendar grandma made. You’ll be glad to know our cat is okay, too. Also, someone from school called, they will call back later. I am sorry - love, Kelly

 P.S. I am fine and the house is fine. The note is only a poor joke, but my report card is not so fine. It is enclosed with this note. I have five low grades and two comments informing you of my poor behavior in class.  I am eating supper at Alex's house. Please call when it is safe for me to come home.

Please do take the time to talk with your child this weekend about their learning in school. Whether you deem that your child is putting in the work to demonstrate excellent progress or your child is struggling with school at this time - providing a listening ear, not necessarily a solution, but merely a listening ear can help keep the dialogue open between you and your child and their learning.

Wishing everyone a good start to the month of February - stay warm 😀 - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 19 2023-2024 SY 26 January 2024 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“The first time a child realizes that a little learning is a dangerous thing is when they bring home a poor report card.” - Mark Twain

Next Friday report cards are sent home, Mark Twain’s wit aside, it is important to note that report cards are but one piece of the vast mosaic of seeing how your child is doing. It is helpful to not get too excited about what one may deem as an excellent report card (especially in a public setting). Conversely, it is helpful to not get too excited about what one may deem as a poor report card. In reading your child’s report you may feel a strong urge to voice your opinion and thoughts right away. This approach tends to result in frustration on the child’s and adult’s part. It is kind of like eating junk food in place of a meal - it feels good going down at the time, but quickly leaves you unsatisfied, hungry and perhaps a bit disappointed (even in cases when your child may have earned a stellar report card).

The information found in a report card presents an opportunity to ask open ended questions. Generally, it is more fruitful to ask questions related to effort, habits, preferences, and well-being. Doing so can create the atmosphere, and sometimes the conversation that could lead to your child asking you to share your opinion naturally. Examples of some open-ended questions related to report cards / “how is school going” are as follows,

  • What are some of your highlights of the school year so far?
  • In what subject do you work your hardest? Why?
  • What are some of your habits that help you learn?
  • What are some of the habits you have that make it difficult for you to learn?
  • If you could press rewind, what is something you would do differently this school year?
  • What are some of the things you most enjoy doing at school? Why?

For some fun, it is recommended that you do not ask your children the following questions.

  • You graduate in five months - when do you plan on stepping things up?
  • Why do you have an F+. Does that mean you are positively failing?
  • You are in grade one, it is about time you start thinking about university. What are you going to do about it? You can’t even write a five paragraph essay?

Wishing you a wonderful weekend - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 18 2023-2024 SY 12 January 2024 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“You do not have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” - Martin Luther King

Happy New Year - may 2024 be generous to you in health and happiness and opportunities to take “first steps” present themselves. Welcome to the 2024 portion of our school year to our incumbent families and welcome too, to our new students and families who are joining CIS later in January.

Partnership

We hope to see you at the next FSA (Family School Association) meeting on Thursday 18 January at 6:00pm in the MPR. Partnerships are important in fostering the best learning environment possible. A good partnership requires effective communication. The website is a great resource of information, as is our weekly newsletter (The Weekly Current). Social media and email are other common modes of communication. Our parent conferences and parent coffees are good sources of information, as are our handbooks.. Digital and print resources provide many avenues to communicate, but face-to-face time is still very important. Learning celebrations, sports tournaments, performances, activities, parent meetings and much more, all provide great opportunities to come to CIS.

Health, Safety and Security

  • Safety is vital for schools - Each child needs to feel safe physically, socially/emotionally and intellectually to be as successful as possible. The world's complexity and ambiguity only grows –  the notion that we might not remember what we were taught, but we remember how someone made us feel continues to be true.

  • Roads and Parking Lot - The weeks of a new calendar year when students school resumes involves families settling and adjusting their routines of student pick-up and drop-off. Inevitably, this means greater traffic in the parking lot and roads near CIS at the start of the school year. Please drive with care, watch for people and be patient with fellow drivers. The speed limit within and around our campus is 15 mph (24 km/h). Our security team and others will be visible in the parking area to assist with the safe flow of cars and people, yet ultimately we count on you to drive with care and courtesy.

Learning - Decreasing Digital Distractions / Appropriate Rest, Nutrition, Exercise

  • Digital tools, devices and platforms clearly have a lot of power. Fortunately, much of their power can be leveraged for learning and unfortunately, much of their power can also be deterrents to learning and community. To help further support learning, resilience and community, please be mindful of social media and cell phone use.

  • It is unequivocal that proper rest, appropriate nutrition and regular exercise help us learn and contribute positively to physical and social/emotional health. The above can be easier said than done. Nonetheless, please do all you can to ensure your child is well rested, eats well and engages in movement.

Thank you for being part of the CIS Community. On behalf of the CIS team, warm wishes to all students and families in 2024. Wishing you health, happiness, peace and first steps in 2024 - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 17 2023-2024 SY 20 December 2023 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Peace begins with a smile.” - Mother Teresa

The human milestone of the end of a calendar year is a celebration of learning, life and a myriad of experiences. Since the beginning of the school year, you most probably have noticed a variety of changes in your children. These changes tend to take many shapes and forms – perhaps it’s a sudden appreciation for a different type of music, or a comfort level of speaking in public, or managing a maths problem, or sitting down to do homework without a reminder, or tying both shoes on their own, or helping a friend, or proofreading an essay more than once before handing it in, or playing a new sport, or reading a chapter book, or speaking a new language, or questioning what can be done to make the world a better place, or growing 2.54 centimetres (1 inch), or making a new friend, and the list goes on … perhaps even occasionally self-regulating screen time :-). Whatever these changes or learning experiences were/are, they are great reminders of the importance of education in its many forms, whether it is in the classroom, during an after school activity, a family excursion and the plethora of other learning opportunities one may experience - as Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

On a global scale, Peace on Earth is illusive and yet a critical hope that can eventually be sustained through education and kindness. As we enter 2024, the atrocities of war are too often omnipresent in the media and in people’s psyche. The Israel-Hamas War, Russia-Ukraine War, coups and burgeoning civil wars in the African nations of Sudan, Niger and Gabon, and civil unrest teetering on civil wars in the Asian countries of Afghanistan and Myanmar – are all stark reminders that the world needs more kindness and education. We all have been affected to some degree by the above and solemnly some of us have lost former students, friends and family members -  it is unimaginable to fathom what people closest to the world’s challenges and atrocities are experiencing. As CIS enters a seasonal break, lest we forget how fortunate we are and take time to appreciate our families, our friends, our colleagues, and strangers who are not yet acquaintances. Indeed it is important, take a pause, to reflect and appreciate our possibly all too charmed lives. As Mother Teresa noted, “Peace begins with a smile.”

Whatever your beliefs, faith or spiritual leanings may be, holiday time is a time for family and friends – it is also a great time to hug your children and loved ones a little tighter - and smile a little brighter. May Lao Tzu’s wisdom from over 2,500 years ago, provide some consideration as we enter a new  year according to the Gregorian Calendar,  “If you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are at peace, you are living in the present.” On behalf of CIS, I wish you a wonderful holiday season and joyous New Year. 2024 is soon come! 

Compliments of the Season - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 16 2023-2024 SY 15 December 2023 JU

 

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul.”  – Plato

The past six days at school have included seven concerts and musical performances. Music is oft cited as one of the great trainers of the mind. The arts in its many forms is oft cited as critical for a peaceful and humane society too. Naturally the aspiration is that CIS students and students in general for that matter, can improve their learning, learn more about the world, learn more about people, take risks, and learn more about themselves via the arts - not to mention the unique combination of creativity, resilience and discipline that can unfold from engagement in the arts.

Arts education can sometimes be riddled with extreme highs and lows. From a literal standpoint you have the treble clef notes and bass clef notes providing opportunities for highs and lows. From a monetary standpoint there are also highs and lows in arts education. For example, in 2021, the arts contributed the equivalent of about 115 billion KYD to the UK economy. In stark contrast, spending on arts education in the UK during that time was just under 10 KYD per student - or the equivalent cost of one toy tambourine … imagine if it was funded to the equivalent of one guitar. A sampling of seven other things to contemplate in relation to arts education include,

  • Arts education experiences tend to reduce the proportion of students in schools with disciplinary issues.
  • Acting together and playing music together brings people together and enhances teamwork.
  • Students with high arts participation and low socioeconomic status have a 4 percent dropout rate—five times lower than their low socioeconomic status peers and low-income students who are highly engaged in the arts are twice as likely to graduate college as their peers with no arts education. Access to the arts matters. For example, in the USA, Black and Hispanic students lack access to quality arts education compared to their White peers, earning an average of 30 and 25 percent fewer arts credits, respectively.
  • Visual arts teach people about color, layout, perspective, and balance. These are helpful with respect to invention and design.
  • Music education helps with neural pathways and spatial awareness which in turn support creativity and problem solving skills.
  • The arts can offer opportunities to explore the human condition and express ideas, learning and feelings in different ways. How often a favorite movie, favorite song, favorite painting result in a flood of memories?
  • Sometimes performing arts and visual arts are the first things to be removed from education programs because they are unfortunately considered non-essential, don’t lend themselves well to “hard data” and can be considered unmeasurable. In considering measurement - not everything that can be measured is important and not everything that is important can be measured.

Wishing you a pleasant weekend - be well - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 15 2023-2024 SY 8 December 2023 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have. - Margaret Mead.

I am currently off campus meeting with prospective teachers - some for openings next school year, some for openings further in the future and some to perhaps guide in their aspirations to serve in a country outside their own. Recruiting, developing and retaining excellent staff that inspire students, colleagues and the broader CIS community is extremely important – most school heads argue that this is the most important thing they do. The recruiting season is complex, exciting, ongoing, and time consuming. CIS takes great care in its recruiting, using a variety of protocols, in order to ensure our faculty and staff are aligned with our community principles (kindness, partnership, sustainability, good intent), appreciative of our mission (connect, inspire, serve) and dedicated to global citizenship. Whilst at the same time may provide skills and experiences that may challenge and refine the way we do things in education in order to help us continually improve.  Throughout the school year CIS reviews and meets with people applying to our school for faculty and staff positions that may open up. October to April are usually considered the busiest months with respect to recruiting - with November, December, January and February tending to be focal months. The market for international teachers is very competitive and continues to be more so each year. The rise in inflation worldwide, and here at home will assist in making this recruiting season interesting.

The ISC Research Group (a research group focusing on international school markets), reports there were just over 5 million students attending 9,484 international schools worldwide with a combined faculty of 467,262. International schools are located in almost all countries in the world. Projections indicate that by 2025 there will be over 11,000 international schools. To get a sense of the growth, in 2000 there were only about 2,500 international schools with a combined enrollment of about 1.0 million students, who were primarily expatriates. Much of the growth is being attributed to the expansion of for profit schools. In 2000 roughly 75% of international schools were not-for-profit and 25% for profit. Today the numbers are essentially reversed - roughly 20% of international schools are nonprofit (CIS being a not-for-profit school), and 80% for profit.

CIS recruits candidates using a variety of methods including recruiting agencies, job fairs, HR services and word of mouth to name a few. CIS is fortunate to be governed by ISS (International Schools Services) which is one of the largest international teacher recruitment agencies in the world. Our process includes extensive review of paperwork, security checks, police checks, interviews, anti-bias training for recruiters, practice lessons and thorough reference checking, just to share a brief overview of the process.

Anticipated openings for the 2024-2025 school year will be posted on our website, with ISS, Schrole and with WORC (Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman). The past 25 years have seen the heaviest recruiting month creep earlier and earlier from late February to October. The past four years things are different with the recruiting season extending longer and later as people and schools manage the challenges presented due to cost-of-living increases, inflation, health issues and political challenges around the world. CIS is fortunate to garner interest from candidates around the world and in the Cayman Islands. This is reassuring, especially when considering the competitive market for teachers, and whilst the Cayman Islands is an attractive location, as is CIS, the cost of living on island presents a significant recruiting challenge - thus creating a notable discrepancy in standard of living relative to other international schools in other location where schools are also situated within a desirable climate, have strong resources and have government to government agreements involving no income taxes for educators, and are in large capital cities. Thus, our perennial challenge is to ensure our professional climate at CIS is an environment in which current and future staff wish to serve.

Wishing you a pleasant weekend - be well - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 14 2023-2024 SY 1 December 2023 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself” - Tecumseh

This weekend is the Cayman Islands Thanksgiving. Since 2010, the Cayman Islands has celebrated Cayman Thanksgiving on the first Sunday after the end of November because 30 November is deemed the official close of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. As of 2014, the Cayman Islands Government has officially recognized the first Sunday in December as the annual Cayman Thanksgiving. Cayman Thanksgiving is meant for a traditional Caymanian meal surrounded by family and friends.

Regardless how you spend Cayman Thanksgiving giving, I trust you have a chance to count blessings and find the time to be thankful.

A Forbes Magazine article noted the following as the top ten things to be thankful for,

10. Humanity
9. Freedom
8. Teachers, Mentors, Coaches
7. People Who Serve
6. Simple Taken For Granted Privileges
5. Modern Technology
4. Wellness
3. Disruptive Honesty
2. Hard Times
1. Good Friends - Good Memories

 

Regardless how you spend Cayman Thanksgiving giving, I trust you have a chance to count blessings and find the time to be thankful.

With Thankful Gratitude - Sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 13 2023-2024 SY 24 November 2023 JU
 
Dear CIS Community,
 
Something to Ponder
 
“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself” - Tecumseh
 
While yesterday was designated as a day of thanks in the United States of America - fortunately, giving thanks transcends national boundaries, cultures, belief systems, and traditions.
 
A Forbes Magazine article noted the following as the top ten things to be thankful for,
10. Humanity
9. Freedom
8. Teachers, Mentors, Coaches
7. People Who Serve
6. Simple Taken For Granted Privileges
5. Modern Technology
4. Wellness
3. Disruptive Honesty
2. Hard Times
1. Good Friends - Good Memories
 
Thanks and Gratitude are one of the few things in life that can be truly shared. 
 

For example, yesterday, I begrudgingly shared an oatmeal raisin cookie with a colleague because I noticed a couple of students in the corner of my eye and wanted to model sharing. While this may have been deemed nice, the reality was from a technical standpoint, the cookie was not wholly shared (I had half the cookie and my colleague had the other half.). Thus, my sharing resulted in me having 50% less of my cookie:-). 

Keeping with the cookie analogy … Gratitude, on the other hand, can be wholly shared. When one gives thanks, a person does not lose a portion of their gratitude. For example, when I share thanks I do not have 50% less thanks, I still have 100% thanks and indeed the other person gains 100% of this thanks. Thus being thankful can be fully and wholly shared (though it does not hurt to share cookies too :-). With this in mind, may you find the time this weekend to share a thank you with an acquaintance, a colleague, a friend and a family member.

With Thankful Gratitude - Sincerely,
 
Jim
 
Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 
P.S. Bonus piece of hidden information you may be thankful for … the anticipated rounds for the Family School Association Trivia Night on Friday, 1st December, are likely to include … music, the Cayman Islands, geography, and animals. If you haven’t done so already, please RSVP here if you would like to join for this fun-filled evening!
 

Vol 4 Ed 12 2023-2024 SY 17 November 2023 JU

Dear CIS Community,

The month of December is near. This month tends to captivate many people due to the festive season regardless of one’s beliefs and traditions. December also happens to be a good time to be mindful of health and safety, in addition to fun, food and festivities.

Health - Seasonal Ills, Rest, Nutrition and Exercise

Sometimes late November and  December can signal the arrival of flu season or at least coughs, sniffles and sore throats. As a reminder, the following items are suggested from our health office; wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, get plenty of sleep and exercise, and eat healthily, and cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (or cough or sneeze into your elbow). If one happens to be sick with a flu-like illness, please stay home for at least twenty-four hours after your fever subsides. We appreciate the community’s cooperation when it comes to health.

Health - Rest, Nutrition and Exercise

It is unequivocal that proper rest, appropriate nutrition and regular exercise help us learn and contribute positively to physical and social/emotional health. The above can be easier said than done. Nonetheless, please do all you can to ensure your child is well rested, eats well and engages in movement. This can be especially challenging as the festive season tends to involve social events.

Safety - Hurricane Season

Late November early December marks the notional end of hurricane season in our part of the world. Indeed, the wonderful “winter” breezes are starting to be felt in the evening. In the event that there is a hurricane, please note that CIS follows recommendations and announcements made by the Governor, the National Hazard Management Council, and the Ministry of Education in the event that schools are to be closed due to tropical storm warnings and potential developments of hurricane conditions. 

Safety - Roads, Parking and Traffic

Roads and Parking Lot - In 2022 the RCIPS attended to 2,915 motor vehicle accidents. This sadly included 15 fatalities. There are more cars in the Cayman Islands than people. The high season of tourism also means more vehicles on the road, including some people not familiar with driving on the left side of the road. Please drive with care, watch for people and be patient with fellow drivers, especially around the school. Our security team and others are visible in the parking area to assist with the safe flow of cars and people, yet ultimately we count on you to drive with care and courtesy.

  • On and around campus there are Accessible Parking Spaces, Expectant Mother Parking Spaces, and Visitor Parking Spaces. The spaces are not to be used by people without accessibility issues, who are not expecting and who are not visitors to the school.
  • Please drive with care, watch for pedestrians and be patient with fellow drivers.
  • The speed limit within and around our campus is 15 mph 24 km/h.
    • Please heed the 3-way stops entering the school.

Safety - Drills

The following is a reminder from our August welcome letters. Safety is vital for schools. All CIS faculty and staff engage in emergency procedure training and review. E are also certified in CPR and first aid. Schools in the Cayman Islands are required to conduct safety drills on a regular basis, in fact schools are required to conduct a minimum of 10 fire drills per school year, in addition to other drills such as earthquake and lockdown drills. Our first drills each school year are done during in-service days with staff only. Subsequent drills happen with students. These happen on a rotation of fire drills, earthquake and tsunami drills and lockdown drills. Our next scheduled drill is a lockdown 1 drill before the end of November.

  • Earthquake and Tsunami Drills - Initial earthquake drills do not include a tsunami component. Subsequent earthquake drills include a tsunami warning component which involves all people on campus moving to designated second and third story areas on campus.
  • Lockdown Drills - Two types of lockdown drills happen at schools. Lockdown 1 refers to practice if there is a dangerous situation near the school but off campus. Lockdown 2 refers to practice if there is a dangerous situation on school grounds.
  • In 2021 there were 809 violent crimes recorded in the Cayman Islands. 55 of these were designated as crimes of serious violence. There were 1,735 domestic violence referrals and 1,399 child safeguarding referrals.
  • Fire Drills - Over the course of the school year the complexity of fire drills tend to increase. For example, early in the school year fire drills happen during more predictable times such as when all students are in class. Later in the school year, practice can happen during lunches or other transition times.
  • In 2018, the CIFS dealt with 1,686 incidents of which 44 were structural fires.

Early in the school year, the school calmly announces the purpose of the drill, prior to the start of a drill. As noted above, as the school year progresses drills tend to be conducted in more complex scenarios and less preamble before the drill to ensure the school is prepared as best as possible in the event of an emergency. After each drill the school's Crisis Management Team (CMT) meets in order to look for ways to further enhance the safety of our students and staff should the rare occasion arise that a live emergency situation happens.

Whatever your plans may be as we near December, may you enjoy the festivities of the season, whilst being alert and mindful of personal and community health and safety. If you are looking to enjoy some musical and artistic stylings of our students - November and December is the performance,  concert and musical season too. This all starts tonight and Saturday with Alice - it's Wonderful.

Be well - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 11 2023-2024 SY 10 November 2023 JU

Dear CIS Community,

In Flanders Fields 
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, physician, soldier, poet, author, artist
 
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
 
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
 
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields. 

 

Depending on your country of origin you may also know Remembrance Day as Veteran’s Day or Armistice Day or 11 November or perhaps by another name. Regardless of the name, this is a time to pause in memory of those who lost their lives in military service whilst serving their country. Red Poppies are a symbol of this homage. The poppy often accompanies the phrase “lest we forget.” Remembrance Day ceremonies often include the poem In Flanders Fields (shared above).

 
Each year to support remembering those who have fallen, CIS participates in the annual Poppy Appeal. This is led by our grade five students and teachers. The Remembrance Day assembly they facilitate is certainly one of the most poignant, reflective, hopeful, and thought provoking assemblies of the school year. You may have noticed the signs related to this at school and around the island - perhaps you have provided a small donation in order to get a poppy of your own. The poppies distributed throughout the island are donated by the Royal British Legion and the Royal Canadian Legion. Money collected in the Cayman Islands during the Poppy Appeal remains in the Islands to assist the members of the Cayman Islands Veterans Association.
 
Over time, Remembrance Day has also become a day to remind us of the importance of peace as well as service. Rarely does a day go by that we are not reminded that the world needs more peace and, for that matter, kindness. The atrocities of war, ethnic and domestic violence, terrorist attacks affect our lives and collective well-being in various shapes and forms - some of which we may not be aware of as of yet. For those of us fortunate enough to live in relatively peaceful places, Remembrance Day may also remind us of the many wonderful things in our lives and the opportunities available to our children. Our children, here in the CIS community, are growing up without the immediate presence of conflict or war, food instability or barriers to education. Remembrance Day is a day to appreciate the wonders of our world and lives - to pay homage to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in hopes of making the world a better place for future generations – to think and act on what we may do as individuals or groups in service, to make the world a better place.
 
Please kindly note that The Cayman Islands observes Remembrance Day on Monday 13 November this year. There is no school for students on Monday 13 November and classes for students resume on Tuesday 14 November.
 
In partnership and peace,
 
Be well - sincerely,
 
Jim
 
Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 10 2023-2024 SY 3 November 2023 JU

 

Emphasizing peace, service, and sacrifice, please note the Cayman Islands observes Remembrance Day on Monday 13 November this year.

Something to Ponder

“An eye for an eye only ends up making the world blind.” - Mahatma Gandhi

Remembrance Day - Depending on your country of origin you may also know the day as Veteran’s Day or Armistice Day or 11 November or perhaps by another name. Regardless of the name, this is a time to pause in memory of those who lost their lives in service whilst serving their country. Red Poppies are a symbol of this homage.

Each year to support remembering those who have fallen, CIS participates in the annual Poppy Appeal, led by our grade five students. You will soon notice the signs related to this at school and around the island - perhaps you have provided a small donation to get a poppy of your own. The poppies distributed throughout the island are donated by the Royal British Legion and the Royal Canadian Legion. Money collected in the Cayman Islands during the Poppy Appeal remains in the Islands to assist the members of the Cayman Islands Veterans Association.

Over time, Remembrance Day has also become a day to remind us of the importance of peace as well as service. Each year around Remembrance Day, rarely does a day go by that we are not reminded that the world needs more peace and, for that matter, kindness. According to the United Nations, 2023 marks the highest number of violent conflicts in the world since World War II. This entails atrocities in too many forms including wars, terrorist insurgencies, civil unrest, ethnic violence and more. Today, the most prominent war in western news is the Israel-Hamas War. At least five of the current wars in the world have seen over 10,000 deaths just in 2023. Though we, here in the Cayman Islands, are geographically distant from the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and Africa where these wars are occurring, we do have ties to these regions by virtue of people, ancestors, religion, and humanity. Conflicts, war, and its atrocities lead to humanitarian crises that affect all those who get caught in the middle, including family, friends, loved ones and children. Our children, here in the CIS community, are growing up without the immediate presence of war, food instability or barriers to education - for this we should all be thankful. Our children, however, are growing up with the ubiquity of news, media feeds, and social media - all with extensive information, videos, photos, press releases and opinions on wars and violent conflicts. Some hints regarding talking about conflict and crisis should your child raise the subject with you include, find out what they know and feel, remain calm and developmentally appropriate, promote understanding not stereotypes, manage the deluge of media, find stories of help and support and check-in periodically. Unicef provides resources to support the above and you can find more at this link.

Remembrance Day is a day to appreciate the wonders of our world and lives - to pay homage to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in hopes of making the world a better place for future generations – to think and act on what we may do as individuals or groups in service, to make the world a better, more peaceful, and more caring place.

Sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 9 2023-2024 SY 27 October 2023 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

Yelling at living things does tend to kill the spirit in them. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts. – Robert Fulghum

Conferences

Participating in parent conferences is an example of parent involvement. Balanced parent involvement can result in stronger academic achievement, better learning habits, and decreased behavioural challenges. Indeed, the best predictor of a student’s success in school is not social status or income. The strongest predictors of student success tend to be if a family,

  • Eats meals together
  • Has a home environment that encourages learning and mutual respect
  • Expresses high, yet not unrealistic expectations for children
  • Is appropriately involved (i.e. not hovering or helicoptering, yet not overly laissez-faire) in their child’s education
  • Is appropriately involved (i.e. not overbearing, yet not apathetic) within the community

We are fortunate to have two formal conference sessions during the school year, as well as back-to-school evenings, community learning meetings, parent meetings and more, to foster parent involvement at CIS, in addition to the weekly newsletter (The Weekly Current). The first conferences of this school year are Thursday November 1 after school and Friday November 2 all day. Please be reminded that on Friday November 2 2023 there are no classes for students. Prior to the conferences you will have already received communication on how to sign-up for the conferences\, if you have not done so already.

What are some hints to help the conferences be helpful for me, the teacher, and my child?

  • To assist with the conferences, below are some tried and true hints.
    • Be on time for conferences and respect time limits.
    • Be honest with teachers and make your concerns known in a respectful manner.
    • Show appreciation for teachers.
    • Take time to reflect before the conference and try to prepare specific questions.
    • Try to be open-minded. Listen first, reflect and then act.
    • Discuss the issues rather than the teachers.
    • It is okay to feel defensive on behalf of your child, but act as an advocate, not an excuse-maker.
    • Remember that it is okay to be a real person. It is helpful to let the teacher know that you struggle with parenting; everyone does. The teacher also struggles with teaching (and may be a parent as well).
    • Remember that we are all on the same side – we all want each child to be as successful as possible.

Be well - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School

 


Vol 4 Ed 8 2023-2024 SY 13 October 2023 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.” - James Marshall Hendrix

Even our world that is fatigued and polarized by violence and hatred with over 30 designated wars currently taking place, the tragic events in Israel and Gaza mark a new level of devastation for a region already suffering. We know there are loved ones who have been killed or are missing or who are fearing for their lives. It is a nightmare that is getting worse each hour.

Please support each other. If you, your family or children need someone to talk with, please do reach out to trusted friends, relatives and professionals.

Though we, here in the Cayman Islands, are geographically distant from the Levant Region of the Middle East we do have ties to the region by virtue of people, ancestors and humanity. Conflicts, war and its atrocities lead to humanitarian crises that affect all those who get caught in the middle, including family, friends, loved ones and children.

Our service as educators and parents for that matter should also make space for the recognition of suffering, and for time to grieve and heal. I certainly hope that the CIS community and the Cayman Islands community from all backgrounds will treat each other with grace and compassion during this difficult time.

In times of conflict and crisis, children tend to look to their parents for a sense of safety and security. The ubiquity of news, in all its shapes, forms, and modalities means that your children, even younger ones may be familiar with conflicts, crises and war happening around the world and closer to home. Some hints regarding talking about conflict and crisis should your child raise the subject with you include, find out what they know and feel, remain calm and developmentally appropriate, promote understanding not stereotypes, manage the deluge of media, find stories of help and support and check-in periodically. Unicef provides resources to support the above and you can find more at this link. 

The tragic events occuring in Israel and Gaza and the surrounding areas are all too vivid reminders for us to have and show gratitude to where we live, as well as a stark reminder to hug your children and loved ones a little tighter.

Wishing you well - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 7 2023-2024 SY 6 October 2023 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” - Carl Jung

At 10:45 am this morning I typed into Google, “issues in education.” In 0.37 seconds, the search indicated about 6.12 billion issues - isn’t that fun. One factor attributing to such a startling number is that education tends to be complex rather than complicated. Things that are complicated tend to be solvable. For example, baking croissants or changing a carburetor are complicated for sure, yet with time, patience and following directions one can bake croissants or change a carburetor. These endeavours have an end point, are solvable, and have independent alternatives. Complicated things tend to have mutually exclusive opposites, such as a family ski vacation or a family beach vacation. Most challenges, endeavours, wonders and issues in education tend to be complex, in that they are ongoing with no end point, are not solvable, shift, and have interdependent alternatives. Complex things tend to have polarities that have mutually inclusive opposites.

Examples of the complex polarities in education are many, a short list includes,

  • Continuity and Change
  • Autonomy and Collaboration
  • Flexibility and Clarity
  • School Responsibility and Social Responsibility
  • Centralization and Decentralization
  • Needs of the Individual and Needs of the Group
  • Creativity and Structure
  • Tradition and Transformation
  • Well Rounded and Specific
  • Nature and Nurture

Indeed, the above polarities and others may be present in your endeavours, work, and service. May your children do their best in managing the complex polarity of family and friends and may we do our best in managing the classic complex polarity of work / life / family balance.

Wishing you a pleasant weekend - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 6 2023-2024 SY 30 September 2023 JU

 

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don't have the first, the other two will kill you.” - Warren Buffett

Recruiting, developing and retaining excellent staff that inspire students, colleagues and the broader CIS community is extremely important – most school heads argue that this is the most important thing they do. The recruiting season is complex, exciting, ongoing, and time consuming. CIS takes great care in its recruiting, using a variety of protocols, in order to ensure our faculty and staff are aligned with our community principles (kindness, partnership, sustainability, good intent), appreciative of our mission (connect, inspire, serve) and dedicated to global citizenship. Whilst at the same time may provide skills and experiences that may challenge and refine the way we do things in education in order to help us continually improve.  Throughout the school year CIS reviews and meets with people applying to our school for faculty and staff positions that may open up. October to April are usually considered the busiest months with respect to recruiting. The market for international teachers is very competitive and continues to be more so each year. The rise in inflation worldwide, and here at home will assist in making this recruiting season interesting.

The ISC Research Group (a research group focusing on international school markets), reports there were just over 5 million students attending 9,484 international schools worldwide with a combined faculty of 467,262. International schools are located in almost all countries in the world. Projections indicate that by 2025 there will be over 11,000 international schools. To get a sense of the growth, in 2000 there were only about 2,500 international schools with a combined enrollment of about 1.0 million students, who were primarily expatriates. Much of the growth is being attributed to the expansion of for profit schools. In 2000 roughly 75% of international schools were not-for-profit and 25% for profit. Today the numbers are essentially reversed - roughly 20% of international schools are nonprofit (CIS being a not-for-profit school), and 80% for profit.

With this competitive market in mind CIS has already begun preparing for formal recruiting, reviewing and hiring. In fact, mid-October is one of our regular internal dates for incumbent faculty to indicate their hopes/plans for the next school year.  CIS recruits candidates using a variety of methods including recruiting agencies, job fairs, HR services and word of mouth to name a few. CIS is fortunate to be governed by ISS (International Schools Services) which is one of the largest international teacher recruitment agencies in the world. Our process includes extensive review of paperwork, security checks, police checks, interviews, anti-bias training for recruiters, practice lessons and thorough reference checking, just to share a brief overview of the process.

Anticipated openings for the 2024-2025 school year will be posted on our website, with ISS, Schrole and with WORC (Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman). The past 25 years have seen the heaviest recruiting month creep earlier and earlier from late February to October. The past four years things are different with the recruiting season extending longer and later as people and schools manage the challenges presented due to cost-of-living increases, inflation, health issues and political challenges around the world. CIS is fortunate to garner interest from candidates around the world and in the Cayman Islands. This is reassuring, especially when considering the competitive market for teachers, and whilst the Cayman Islands is an attractive location, as is CIS, the cost of living on island presents a significant recruiting challenge - thus creating a notable discrepancy in standard of living relative to other international schools in other location where schools are also situated within a desirable climate, have strong resources and have government to government agreements involving no income taxes for educators, and are in large capital cities. Thus, our perennial challenge is to ensure our professional climate at CIS is an environment in which current and future staff wish to serve.

Wishing you a pleasant weekend - be well - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School

Vol 4 Ed 4 2023-2024 SY 15 September 2023 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary notes four definitions of peace. 1) A state of quiet, especially freedom from public disturbance. 2) Freedom from upsetting thoughts or feelings. 3) Harmony in personal relations. 4) A state or period of peace between governments, an agreement to end war.

Yesterday I was intrigued by a CIS parent who showed me their playlist of songs they planned to share with their children. The parent, a dad, mentioned that this is part of my children's home education and how they need to be exposed to music from different generations, with different themes and also from their home country. Today, I had a chance to catch up with the parent to ask how the home music education went with their personally curated playlist. Unfortunately, he said his children were nonplussed and did not necessarily appreciate the music nor the clear thought and effort that went into the playlist. After consoling the parent, and saying things like, “your children will come around, and appreciate good music one day, or at least someday in the future possibly experience their preferred music being rebuked by their own children.

Also, yesterday, September 21 was the International Day of Peace. September 21 is also known as World Peace Day and is a sanctioned holiday by the United Nations, thus generally observed by the 193 member states of the United Nations.

Obviously, the notion of peace is more important than a carefully curated playlist - yet paying homage to the disheartened father above, and acknowledging that September 21, the first day of autumn in the northern hemisphere and World Peace Day. I humbly share, in alphabetical order, ten songs about various aspects of peace. Accompanying this list are ten quotations about peace, also in alphabetical order.

Song

Quotation

For What it’s Worth - Buffalo Springfield

“I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace.” = Helen Keller

I feel it Still - Portugal. The Man

“I truly believe the only way we can create global peace is through not only educating our minds but our hearts and our souls. - Malala Yousafzai

Love Train - The O’ Jays

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” - Mother Teresa

One - U2

“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one.” - John Lennon

One Love  - Bob Marley and the Wailers

“Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.” - Nelson Mandela

Peace Train - Cat Stevens / Yusuf

“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but means by which we arrive at that goal.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Where is the Love? - Black-Eyed Peas

How can there be peace without people understanding each other; and how can this be if they don't know each other? - Lester B. Pearson

While My Guitar Gently Weeps - The Beatles

“There is no way to peace. Peace is the way” - AJ Muste

Why Can’t We be Friends - War

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace”  - Jimi Hendrix

Yell Fire - Michael Frante and Spearhead

“You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.” - Indira Gandhi

 

Wishing everyone a pleasant weekend – peace.

Sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 4 2023-2024 SY 15 September 2023 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

According to the Oxford Online Dictionary, the definition of a “First World Problem” is a relatively trivial or minor problem or frustration (implying a contrast with serious problems such as those that may be experienced in the developing world).

I worry, as a parent, educator, son, brother, husband, and a person that our lives are too easy. Earlier this week I sat in on two different evening webinar sessions. One was regarding assessment and the other was regarding inclusion. Wednesday morning regarding assessment. In both settings I heard participants and speakers alike use the terms resilience and perseverance. These are certainly two words that I regularly use too. It did get me thinking though that resilience and perseverance is often associated with overcoming hardship. And if this is true - are our students or us as adults really experiencing much hardship. At this time in our lives are we really experiencing challenges and scenarios that might develop resilience and perseverance? Or are our lives just a little too comfortable?

On Sunday afternoon I found myself getting slightly frustrated with traffic. Instead of taking seven minutes to get to my destination it took me a whopping ten minutes and I noticed a couple of people not stopping at a stop sign, as well as a person not needing assistance, parked in an accessibility parking space. When I arrived at lunch I found myself being modestly frustrated with the meal selections, as I was in the mood for pasta and the pasta selections at the eatery did not have one of my preferred sauces. While I was waiting to be seated, a young person in line noticed that I have a gold tooth - the young person then took a closer look at my clothes and hair, and proceeded to inform me that I look like a pirate. Admittedly this made me laugh, though I was disappointed too, because I was going for a three musketeers look.

In watching, reading or listening to the news it is difficult not to become sad, confused, angry,  infused with the desire to do something or perhaps be apathetic.  The plight of refugees and immigrants in multiple countries around the world continues to be truly daunting. Natural disasters of flooding, drought and earthquakes seem to be more frequent or at least covered more frequently in the news. Wars continue, most notably in Europe,  Asia and Africa, and violence is pretty much evident in all parts of the globe - even here at home in the Cayman Islands. Hunger continues in every country - even those with high levels of wealth, and in some cases especially those with some high levels of wealth as wealth gaps continue to widen. Discrimination and trampling of human rights continue in every country – whether overt or quietly subversive - even in countries consistently touted as among the best places in the world to live such as Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Austria.

Our children in the CIS community and the adults in the CIS community do not come into regular direct contact with things like hunger, having to flee a country for safety or daily civilian violence. We probably do not worry about when our next meal will be, we do not need to sleep with one-eye open and we do not directly experience poverty. The people of the CIS community are fortunate to say the least.

With the above in mind I invite the CIS community to reflect on what we as individuals can do to make the world a better place. I invite all of us to catch ourselves if we start complaining or get frustrated by “First World Problems.” If we are on an aeroplane and the food is not to our liking or we are sitting in the middle seat, remember we are flying in the air – it is a miracle of physics. If we are video calling with a family member on another continent and the internet is weak, remember it was not long ago that we had to write a postcard and wait several weeks to communicate. If we are away on a trip and the shower water is cold, remember a large percentage of the people in the world do not even have access to clean drinking water.

Wishing everyone a pleasant weekend – may we appreciate and show gratitude for the fortunate lives we live - may we be so fortunate to have first world problems – may we be catalysts so those less fortunate may also have the good fortune of first world problems someday.

Please note that students have an extended weekend because there are no classes for students on Monday 18 September - their classes resume on Tuesday 19 September.

Sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart
Director - Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 3 2023-2024 SY 8 September 2023 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Barbeque may not be the road to world peace, but it’s a start.” - Anthony Bourdain

Thank you for coming to the Back-to-School Nights during the past three weeks. Over 950 parents and grandparents collectively came to these information sessions on your child’s program. Your partnership in attendance is appreciated. These evenings provide further insight to CIS’ approach to learning, instruction, assessment and student support.

Continuing with visiting school - thank you for coming to the Welcome Back BBQ last Saturday. Just over 1,000 people attended. In addition to enjoying a rare cool breeze this time of year, we hope you had a chance to talk with our various community groups and student groups who engage in service learning at school and around the island.

Thank you to the student ambassadors, CIS staff and volunteers that helped organize, facilitate and support these events.

Another opportunity to meet new and familiar faces at school is Thursday 14 September at the first FSA (Family School Association) meeting of this school year. The time is 6:00 pm. The location is the MPR (Multi-Purpose Room).

Our school community is composed of about 3,000 people, including students, staff, families, and third-party support. With this many people, our community principles of kindness, partnership, sustainability and good intent become critical, as is learning and safety of course.

Historically, the leading external cause of injury or death on island is traffic accidents. Speed and lapses in consideration are key factors in traffic accidents. With this in mind please be reminded that accessibility parking, maternity parking and visitor parking is only used by those with accessibility issues, maternity scenarios and people who are visitors. Speed limits in school zones in the Cayman Islands is 15 miles per hour / 24 kilometres per hour. To put this speed into perspective, this is about the same speed that a 300 pound left tackle runs a 40 yard dash in the NFL in the USA. Thus 15 miles per hour / 24 kilometres per hour still presents potential danger.

Further supporting safety, CIS conducts multiple drills throughout the school year, so we may be prepared in the hopefully unlikely event of an emergency. Schools in the Cayman Islands are obligated to conduct 10 fire drills per school year. We also conduct drills related to earthquakes, tsunamis, and lockdowns. These are done with advanced preparation and in a fashion to maximize preparedness and minimize potential anxiousness. Today, we had our first fire drill with students. This entailed all people on campus evacuating the buildings in an orderly fashion and convening at the pre-established muster points. Once mustered, attendance checks are double and triple checked to account for all people. Sweeps of the premises are done prior to any all-clear signals and once a drill has been successfully completed students, staff and visitors on campus resume their previous activities. As the school year progresses we increase the complexity of drills (for example conducting them at break times, having designated staff or students to remain inside for us to check our attendance protocols). This helps with learning and also assists with preparedness.

Wishing you a pleasant weekend of hopefully taking it slow - sincerely,

Jim Urquhart
Director
Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 2 2023-2024 SY 1 September 2023 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best.” -  Bob Talber 

On Wednesday evening I met with a parent for roughly two hours. The topic at hand was their becoming comfortable with their eldest child moving away from the island to go to university. The parent was not worried about how their child would be academically. Their child did well in school and was excited about their upcoming program and courses. They were not concerned about things like laundry or travelling - arrangements had been made to provide more than ample support. The concern / worry / wonder the parent articulated was “how do I know my child will make good decisions?” The parent, like many parents this time of year, was wondering if / worrying if their child is independent enough. They were wondering if / worrying if their child will have healthy relationships if their child met someone. They were wondering if / worrying if their child can resist potential temptations related to things they may have difficulty talking about at home, such as issues regarding the so-called taboo topics of sex, drugs, rock n’ roll, politics and religion. Aside from wondering about their child, they were wondering about themselves -  the parent also expressed that they have left their eldest child’s room the same, and sometimes sit in the room just to somehow feel their child’s presence. I shared it is normal to have such feelings and habits this time of year.  I added the empathic question, “how are you doing with one less person at the table for weekend meals?” It turned out that this question was not as empathic as I thought because it inadvertently resulted in some tears. Tears of pride regarding their child being away studying at their preferred university and tears of melancholy for missing their child’s presence at home. This is life as a parent. The days can be long and years short. When they are younger one may dream of the day their child shows greater independence. When that day comes, sometimes tinges of hope for dependence emerge. Rest assured, when this happens, usually a parent is less worried about academics (learning to count if you will) and much more mindful of what counts - hoping with all their might that their child away from home is making wise decisions, having fun (yet not too much fun), being kind to others (and others being kind to them), and engaging in habits that keeps their body and sole healthy.

Parent Involvement

Teaching children what counts is a team effort. A team requires many people, a lot of effort, and involves hard work. It inherently encompasses mistakes along the way too. Thus helping our children understand, appreciate and act on what counts requires a strong school / parent partnership. To be sure, success in school is measured not just by academic standing, but also via social-emotional health, engagement in the arts, athletics and service and much more. Arguably these are the realms where our children practise, first hand, skills like, managing independence, coping when things don’t go one’s way, developing decision-making skills and doing the right thing when no one is looking - the things that count.

Parent involvement in a child’s learning is very important, and certainly varies from age group to age group. It requires a fine balance. Too little and too much parent involvement is detrimental to student growth. - as is too little. The art is in finding the right balance – and, of course,  this too varies from child to child too.

Two forms of parental involvement consistently show a positive effect on student success. One is attending school information sessions such as orientations. When parents attend information sessions, and other similar types of orientation, students tend to have higher rates of school work completion. In fact, when parents participate in school events their children tend to have a student work completion rate 15% to 20% higher than students whose parent(s) do not attend any school events.

The other form of parent involvement that consistently helps students is having family suppers or meals. Our busy lives often get in the way of the ritual/tradition of eating a meal together. Children who are in an environment in which their family regularly eat meals together (three or more times a week), tend to have stronger academic achievement, lower instances of substance abuse, less behavioral issues, and are more likely to complete high school and / or post-secondary education, and tend to participate in service to others as well as themselves.

On behalf of the CIS team, thank you to our parents for engaging in the school / parent partnership, such as the recent new family orientations and back to school nights. Below are just a handful of examples I have already observed in the first week of school.

  • Introducing yourself to your child’s teachers, teaching assistants and other staff members
  • Talking with your child and telling stories about your days at school
  • Returning parents introducing themselves to new families to the school
  • Taking the time to understand Google Classroom and Seesaw
  • Asking your child questions about how they use social media
  • Modelling good food choices
  • Giving children some space on the playground to help them learn to solve issues independently rather than have mommy or daddy solve issues that are within a child’s ability to resolve

Indeed, children's attitudes towards school, their engagement, achievement, attendance, motivation, self-concept, and behaviors are influenced by the attitudes of their parents towards learning and school. CIS is very thankful for the hard work of our parents in support of young people.

Wishing you a good weekend and may you have the opportunity to have a meal together with your child - hopefully we will see you at the Welcome Back BBQ tomorrow (Saturday 2 September at 4:00 pm).

Sincerely,

Jim Urquhart
Director
Cayman International School
 

Vol 4 Ed 1 2023-2024 SY 25 August 2023 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud” - Maya Angelou

The first week of each school year is a gift of renewal – it is an annual revitalization filled with anticipation. From early childhood students cautious to leave parents for the first time … to high school students who are eager to leave their parents to reunite with friends … to staff excited about the new year...to parents experiencing a swirl of pride, excitement and trepidation - the anticipation of the first day / week / month of school is one of the many joys of serving in education.

An extended version of this letter is found later in this version of the Director’s Wave, and includes; Principal Welcome Letters, Information about Back-to-School Nights, Learning, Parking, Uniforms, Health, Safety, and more.

We are happy to welcome over 100 new students to CIS. Our new and incumbent families alike should be proud knowing that,

  • CIS includes students from 46 different countries
  • CIS includes staff from 25 different countries
  • 25% of CIS students are Caymanian
  • CIS has International Baccalaureate Diploma results 10% higher than the world average
  • CIS governed and owned by the non-profit International Schools Services (ISS)

CIS is the only Early Childhood to Grade 12 school in the Cayman Islands rated excellent by the Office of Education Standards. CIS’ excellent rating is based on inspection on instruction and achievement in Maths, Science and English, as well as Student Support and Leadership (OES Report here). People are what make CIS a wonderful place to be, to play and to learn. Our students, teachers, support staff, parents and community work together with our mission and community principles in mind to help us continually improve. Complementing the above, CIS has extensive facilities, among the best for schools in the Caribbean.

To further help with the transition to a new school year please be mindful of the following dates.

  • Tuesday, August 29th - ES Back-to-School Night
  • Thursday, August 31st - MS Back-to-School Night
  • Saturday, September 2nd - Welcome Back BBQ
  • Thursday, September 7th - HS Back-to-School Night

As Maya Angelou shares, as we enter further in the storm session in our region.  “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” Thank you for being part of the CIS Community. On behalf of the CIS team, warm wishes to all for the 2023-2024 school year.

In partnership,

Jim Urquhart
Director
Cayman International School
 

 

Jim Urquhart

Director, Cayman International School