2023-2024 school year


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