18 June 2021

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“School’s out for summer” - Alice Cooper

“Longing for something that you once had is a mistake because the pictures in your mind are never the same as whatever it is you are longing for.” - Jane Urquhart

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.” - Seneca

The 2020-2021 school year has come to a close four our students. The students have had many successes and growth opportunities in the realms of academics, the arts, athletics and service. Thank you to our curious students, supportive parents, and our dedicated faculty and staff. You make CIS a great place to be, to do, to learn, and to grow.

Whilst this school year has come to a close for our students, planning for the next school year continues. Some things to look forward to in the course of the new school year include our first full year with our new building, the first year the 2017-2018 school year without construction, CIS having its highest enrollment in school history (anticipated to be in the vicinity of 900 students - we have had an unprecedented number of applicants to our school with people applying from on island, off-island from boarding schools, public schools and private schools alike), continued programmatic growth, greeting new students, families and staff.

Personal stories, classes, social media, and yearbooks are intimate holders of memories, risks accomplished, and caring moments. Last week your child received their yearbook. Each year the school's yearbook is an impressive feat accomplished and designed by a dedicated group of students under the tutelage of a few tireless staff members. Reflecting on this school year and no doubt the months and years to come, our school’s hope that you and your children not only remember and appreciate CIS but evoke the essence of the CIS community principles of Kindness, Partnership, Sustainability, and Good Intent. As a CIS Blue Iguana our children may have memories of sincere friendships, after-school activities, challenging endeavours, vibrant caring teachers and considerate parents. Whatever the memory you and your children feel and see in your mind’s eye, I hope it is accompanied by a smile.

To our friends who are leaving the CIS Community, we wish you the best and hope to see you soon. To those returning to CIS or newly enrolled for the 2021-2022 school year, our team looks forward to seeing you in August!

Be well - paying homage to our islands seafaring history - You cannot change the winds, but you can adjust your sails.

 

Sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

 

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


 

2020-2021 school year - dates to remember...

 

  • Friday, August 20, 2021 is new student and new family orientation for MS and HS students

  • Monday, August 23, 2021 is new student and new family orientation for EC and ES students

  • Tuesday, August 24, 2021 is the first day of school for students for the 2021-2022 school year

    • This is a full day of school. What a great day!

  • Saturday, August 28, 2021 is a Welcome Back BBQ and Information Market

    • This is a pilot event to help foster community and broader community awareness

  • Calendar for the 2021-2022 and the 2022-2023 school years are found on the CIS website

 

11 June 2021

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

Whilst the 2020-2021 school year is nearing its denouement for students, planning for the future continues. This is the time of year when families may feel even busier than usual (thus the inclusion of the Zen adage about meditation). 

The world continues to be a complex place. During this school year a very brief cross section of world events include; Covid 19 and its variants, examples of racism in all places on our planet, climate change and the unpredictability of natural disasters, the plight of the Rohingya people, and protests in Colombia. Fortunately, there is a cross section of many positive events too, such as more people than ever having access to electricity, Africa being declared free of wild polio, the Zhurong rover landing on Mars and of course closer to home - The Cayman Islands effectiveness of managing the global pandemic. On a lighter note, the most downloaded music artists in 2021 around the time of writing this message were BTS, Justine Bieber, Cardi B and Olivia Rodrigo. Social media continues to have both positive and negative influences on people - the rise of Tik Tok being an example of this. There is a chance that some of these events have affected or will affect your life.

What will students remember about the 2020-2021 school year at CIS? … being at school in-person, learning in a new building, laughing with a friend on the playground, performing in a concert, playing a sport, discovering a favourite book … meeting a new friend...doing the right thing, even when it is difficult. No doubt students will have many memories. It is hoped that people’s memories are of more ‘ups’ than ‘downs.’ There may be memories of academic successes and challenges, learning a difficult life lesson, development as an athlete, growth as an artist, new friendships, examples of good citizenship, and the support received from caring teachers, family and friends. Whatever the memories one sees and feels in one’s mind’s eye, I hope they are accompanied by a smile.

Be well - wishing everyone a pleasant long weekend - sincerely,

 

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School


Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

"Everyone fails at who they're supposed to be. A measure of a person, of a hero, is how well they succeed at being who they are." - Queen Frigga of Asgard

Graduation

Today, the first Friday in June, our seniors graduate. Our 2021 graduating class is the largest in CIS’ history. They are 42 people strong. They have collectively been in school close to 600 years. As individuals they have engaged in at least 16,000 hours of classes, endured/enjoyed at least 2,000 hours of homework, 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.

Please enjoy this well wishes video to our graduates - CIS Graduates 2021 Well Wishes.

June

The month of June is here.  June most certainly can ignite the anticipation of summer in young people’s minds and hearts. While summer may be felt in the air, there is still over 5.5% of the student school year remaining. Great lessons continue, as do field trips, projects, celebrations, performances, assessments and much more. To put 5.5% of the school year in perspective …The movie, Avengers: End Game, which up until March 2020 was the highest grossing movie in the world, is 182 minutes long. The final 5.5% of this movie is about 10 minutes. And the final 10 minutes of Avengers: End Game tied a lot of things together - with the snap of a finger.

 

Be well - sincerely,

 

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

 

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


 

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing oneself.” - Leo Tolstoy

The human spirit is taking an inordinate number of hits as of late. News feeds and media programming quickly point to attacks in the Middle East, the coup in Myanmar, political bickering most everywhere, unethical use of technology, racism, inequity, the rise of mental health issues and of course the pandemic. Though some of the things noted above might be separated from the Cayman Islands by geography, they still affect our lives here. They overtly contribute to a sense of being unsettled for some and perhaps silently unsettled others. Roughly a decade or so ago the term VUCA became the vernacular to help understand our unsettled world ... V - Volatility; U - Uncertainty; C - Complexity; A - Ambiguity.

In talking with a parent last night, I mentioned that ‘island fever’ appears to be alive and well, and I get the impression that many people in the Cayman Islands seem to be suffering - perhaps even languishing. The parents' response to me was they can feel this everywhere they go. We agreed that in our observation there is a palpable languishing on island. Some of this palpable languishing could be a product of VUCA. The world is volatile in that the speed of change seems faster each year. The world is uncertain. As the adage goes, the future is the hardest thing to predict. The world is complex. The number of and variety of factors and the number of relationships continue to increase. These items become more difficult to analyze. The world is ambiguous. Things are becoming harder to interpret due to the lack of clarity.

The “VUCAness” of the world is taking its toll on people in the Cayman Islands, despite our island being able to live life in-person, rather than through a screen and lockdown procedures. The rhythm of life for people on island has been disrupted. Many aspects of the hospitality world are being crushed. Families that want to be together are separated and families who want to be separated are together.

So how can one mitigate the challenges of VUCA? The following Zen adage comes to mind, “You should sit in meditation twenty minutes every day - unless you are too busy; then you should sit in meditation for an hour.” A less philosophical approach might be to take small bits of clarity and certainty to mind. To this end, please be reminded of the following;

  • Tuesday, 24 August 2021 is the first day of school for students for the 2021-2022 school year.

  • Friday 18 June 2021 is the last day of school for students for this school year. NB: This is a half-day.

  • For those who like to plan further in advance please be reminded that the CIS Calendar for the 2021-2022 school year and the CIS Calendar for the 2022-2023 school year are posted on the CIS Website.

 

Be well - sincerely,

 

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

 

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

Dear CIS Community,

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

Last week the DIrector’s Wave paid homage to math. Fans of language mentioned to me they feel left out. Thus, today a tribute to the alphabet is shared.

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. 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)…to text messaging a friend…to a 280 character tweet…to a quick snapchat note…to emojis (like them or not emojis have become ubiquitous) - 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

 

Be well - sincerely,

Jim

 

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School


Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


Vol 1 Ed 26 2020-2021 SY May  2021 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

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

Math - Drive and Walk with Care - The trend in the Cayman Islands is that the fifth leading cause of death is due to motor vehicle accidents. 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 intersection by the high school is 450 metres or .28 miles. Travelling 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.

Travelling 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 is a school zone they lose their licences for six months to a year. Thus, in theory, to gain a 34 seconds coming from the south or to gain 22 seconds coming from the north, 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. Thus I share the notion that those who move slowly see the path clearly.

Math - Covid Vaccination - Roughly 56% of people in The Cayman Islands are vaccinated. The percentage needed for herd immunity has not been fully confirmed, though from world experts the suggested percentage is roughly 75%, and this number is now considered conservative as medical experts around the world seem to be inching toward 90% vaccination to approach herd immunity for Covid. Unfortunately, vaccine hesitancy is evident around the world and The Cayman Islands is no exception, despite a very successful initial rollout and the availability of the Pfizer vaccine. Reports indicate that we may be at risk of having vaccinations expiring because the rate of vaccination has slowed down. This is worrisome for sure, with the prospect of people travelling off island during the summer, we run the risk of a spike of cases. Depending on one’s age and predisposition, the risk of death from Covid, if contracted, is between 0.1% and 12% (1 in 1000 to 120 in 1000). The risk of hospitalization is 0.1% to 32% (1 in 1000 to 320 in 1000). The risk of an anaphylactic reaction from the Pfizer vaccine is 0.00045% (4.5 in 1,000,000). This seems like a very small risk to an extremely high reward for individual and community health.

Travel - Among the common places to travel off island are the USA, UK, and Canada.

- At this time the USA has the most active cases of Covid in the world and the 18th most deaths per capita - with 45% of their population vaccinated.

- Canada has the 24th most active cases and the 64th most deaths per capita and rising - with 36% of their population vaccinated.

- The UK has the 28th most active cases and 15th most deaths per capita - with 52% of the population vaccinated.

Whilst we are fortunate to be in The Cayman Islands during the pandemic, there are still 63 other locations in the world with less deaths per capita, at least 8 other places with a higher vaccination rate and 20 locations with less active cases. Whether people are travelling off island in the summer or staying on island, it is inextricably hoped that people follow government guidelines and common health sense to enhance individual safety and the collective safety of others.

Be well - a belated May the 4th be with you - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School


Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 


Vol 1 Ed 25 2020-2021 SY 23 April 2021 JU

 

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

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

Making a Difference

A CIS student was walking along the beach in The Cayman Islands. 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 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. - The anecdote above was adapted from 'The Star Thrower' by Loren C. Eiseley

Earth Day

Yesterday, 22 April 2021 was Earth Week around the world. 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 - 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 and posterity - 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.

Be well - sincerely,

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 


Vol 1 Ed 24 2020-2021 SY 16 April 2021 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

With report cards and Learning Conferences in progress, I thought it might be fun to share fictitious yet plausible report comments of some influential people from the past and present.

‘He seems lost in space.’ - Stephen Hawking; ‘She always has her head in a book.’ - JK Rowling;  ‘He is too stubborn.’ - Terry Fox; ‘She does not follow rules.’ - Viola Desmond; ‘He has unrealistic dreams.’ - Mahatma Gandhi; ‘She questions too much.’ - Christiane Amanpour; ‘He never sits still.’ - Lionel Messi; ‘She needs to mind her own business.’ Mingzhu Dong

Report Cards

Parents' approaches to report card review and conference reflection tend to span a wide spectrum. Some scrutinize each item on report cards and address each item point by point with their child. Some look solely for results, whilst others look for learning. Some parents do not read report cards due to their child’s choice or not being home when the report cards come out. Perhaps you have heard of a parent giving a child a car for what was deemed a good report card (though the child thought their report card was mediocre).  Or perhaps you have learned of a child being spanked for what was deemed a poor report card (though the child thought their report card was good). In my role, I have been fortunate or unfortunate to see a gamut of family approaches to report cards. We have roughly 1500 parents in the CIS Community. Thus, it is quite possible that there are close to 1500 different approaches to report card reading within the CIS community alone.

In case it is helpful, below are five tips / approaches to consider based on what we know in regards to how children internalize feedback. Of note, these approaches may also be helpful when talking with your child about school in general, conferences and even what might be going on in their life.

  • Share praise and celebrations with specific examples. Rather than saying “great job in Science” – say, “your hard work in preparing your Science projects in advance really makes a difference in learning.”

  • Share praise with care. If your child consistently does well in all areas of school that are reported, saying “great job” can quickly lose meaning. Saying things like, “great job, you are so smart” can lead to challenges in the future when your child struggles with something and assumes they are not smart because they did not do a great job. If your child consistently has a strong report card consider reminding them what might have attributed to the strong performance in school, things like, hard work, getting rest, listening, cooperating with classmates, talking clear notes, asking relevant questions, and taking time to get organized.

  • Give your child a voice. Ask your child how they think and feel they are doing. Ask them how they feel about their learning. This approach is particularly helpful if you feel your child is struggling or finds school difficult - asking such questions provides the indication that you, as the parent, are ready to listen (as opposed to judge - which is often a child’s big worry). This in turn can set up a scenario where your child is more likely to listen to potential suggestions you may have later. This will also help your child focus on areas of improvement and the notion of working to get better, as well as feeling satisfaction about areas where she/he has excelled.

  • Consider talking about the report card while going for a walk, or driving in a car or any other scenario when you both are looking in the same direction rather than eye to eye. This approach can be of particular assistance when talking with a boy.

  • Separate your child from the report card. Adults and children alike do not want their self-worth tied into one report. Children and adults alike are so much more than one report.

Be well - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 


Vol 1 Ed 23 2020-2021 SY 1 April 2021 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“A person can change their future by merely changing their attitude.” - Earl Nightingale

Each year the school works to establish a calendar that balances 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. With this in mind the school collected input from students, parents and staff in the process of preparing the calendars for the 2021-2022 and the 2022-2023 school year. No school calendar is perfect. We all have various preferences/biases that we want to see in a school calendar. There is also specific school programming, such as the IB exams that need to be considered too. Because of these biases and the nuances of calendars, it is helpful to consider the words of 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.”

Based on community feedback among the changes made to the draft calendars include,

  • An extended winter break to lessen potential challenges due to pandemic travel and to allow time and space for families that tend to travel or have family commitments during this time of year.

  • Parent Teacher Student Conferences will be an evening, followed by a full day of conferences to ensure greater convenience for families, better time and spacing of conferences.

    • The official dates of the above will be confirmed at a later date.

Some items that remain from the draft calendar include,

  • No half-days (aside from the last day of classes in June for students).

  • Agreement with calendar protocols as per Caymanian requirements, Board Policy and reasonable similarity with other international schools, as well as our fellow schools on island. 

For your planning purposes please find the calendars below.

Wishing you a pleasant weekend and break - please know school resumes for students on Monday 12 April 2021.

Be well - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


Vol 1 Ed 22 2020-2021 SY 26 March 2021 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Cleanliness and order are not matters of instinct; they are matters of education, and like most great things, you must cultivate a taste for them.” - Benjamin Disraeli

Thank you again to the community's calmness and cooperation in ensuring our early dismissal was smooth and safe. Whilst taking to parents yesterday and today, some common questions from the community have emerged. Below is some helpful information about the elements of air, water and earth.

Please tell me about air quality at CIS.

  • The air filtration systems have MERV ratings 8 to 13. These ratings are the same as typically found in hospital laboratories and superior commercial / residential buildings.

  • The air handling units use a double filter system. The pre-filters (MERV 8) are changed every three months as part of our regular protocol. The primary filters (MERV 13) are changed annually as part of our regular protocol. All filters are inspected every three months and if needed and early change is made. The above protocol meets and exceeds industry standard.

  • The air-handling units utilize UV-C technology (Ultraviolet Light) to neutralize airborne pathogens.

  • The school monitors air quality outside and inside the school. In addition to particulate matter, the meters also measure carbon dioxide concentration, VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)  temperature and humidity. All of the above readings are consistently in the good or better range.

Please tell me about the water supply at CIS.

  • The drinking water at CIS is from the Cayman Water Company Ltd. This is the same water company that supplies water for all residences, hotels, business, doctor offices, dental clinics, etc. from roughly Marbel Drive (near St. Matthew’s University Residence) to West Bay.

  • Water on Grand Cayman Island, unlike many other places in the world, is not drawn from lakes, rivers, or reservoirs, thus island drinking water is not affected by groundwater. The water comes from the desalination plants on Grand Cayman Island.

  • The drinking fountains at CIS are all individually filtered, and the filters are changed on a regular basis.

  • The DEH (Department of Environmental Health) conducts additional tests on our water annually. This is above and beyond the regular monitoring by the Cayman Water Company.

Please tell me more about surface cleaning.

  • The school is cleaned everyday and higher use areas are cleaned throughout the day as well. The products used are anti-bacterial, antiviral and are rated as environmentally safe, as well as specific to different surface materials.

  • Difficult to access exterior surfaces such as overhangs, high access locations, specialized equipment and rooves are cleaned every six months. Due to the recent landfill fire, the school is in the process of doing an additional cleaning of these surfaces today and over the weekend.

  • During holiday breaks for students (i.e. mid-term, winter and spring / Easter, summer, the school does additional deeper cleaning of all areas of the school.

Please tell me more about the soil quality.

  • The soil at CIS was tested prior to the two recent building projects. In both cases soil readings showed that the soil at the school site is safe and typical of soil readings on Grand Cayman Island. Soil, like water and air, is something we monitor. In an abundance of caution we are sending random soil samples to a lab in the USA for testing.

Tell me about the landfill in general?

  • As part of our Community Learning Series we are adding a session specific to the landfill remediation works, known officially as ISWMS (Integrated Solid Waste Management System). The date of this session will be confirmed at a later date and will be facilitated by a third party.

The landfill is something one can visibility see, please tell me about COVID 19 protocols?

  • For details on please see our COVID 19 FAQ section on our website.

  • As a matter of diligence, we have increased the use of our electrostatic sprayer for classroom disinfection.  

I trust the above information is helpful. Wishing everyone a pleasant weekend - be well.

Sincerely,

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


Vol 1 Ed 21 2020-2021 SY 19 March 2021 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself .” - John Dewey

This is my ninth year serving as a head of school. Prior to that I served as a principal for nine years. One of the things I get to do is write contributions to newsletters. Sometimes ideas for newsletters come quickly, and sometimes they do not. Today, is approximately my 670th newsletter contribution of the years - and I must say writer’s block has trickled in. So I resorted to Google. I searched, “Issues in education.” Opening another tab, I typed in, “Issues on earth.” Below are the search results. Strangely enough, according to Google, there are more issues in education than on earth. In fact, the search notes 440 million more issues in education than on earth.

After chuckling at the mathematics for a while - how could something that is part of earth have more issues than the earth itself? It is probably best to somehow break issues into smaller, more management chunks - all issues do not need to be solved in one day, maybe they can be solved in one year (again the mathematics made me chuckle because it would mean the world tackling over 5.3 million issues a day in one year). It is probably best to develop a ten-year plan, that would mean we only need to solve about 540,000 issues a day for ten years. Hmmm. I am a parent, I wonder what number comes up when searching “Issues for parents.” The result was 2.6 billion. Yikes. Rather than being potentially overwhelmed by the numbers on the screen, perhaps it is better to reflect on the wisdom of the 1927 prose / poem by Erhmann, Desiderata.

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace. And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

 

Wishing everyone a pleasant weekend - be well.

Sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School


Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


Vol 1 Ed 20 2020-2021 SY 12 March 2021 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.” -  Albert Schweitzer

A year ago, the World Health Organization declared COVID 19 a pandemic. As with many places around the world, The Cayman Islands went on lockdown one year ago. When I arrived at CIS on July 30, for the first time, the date remaining on whiteboards in a few classrooms, eerily read March 13, 2020. A clear reminder that things can change quickly.

We are certainly very fortunate to have in-person, face-to-face school. Collective, The Cayman Islands have done, and continue to do a very effective job in managing the pandemic. The Cayman Islands is one of thirty countries / territories with 3 or less COVID-19 related deaths. Of 221 countries / territories The Cayman Islands is one of thirty-five countries / territories with 30 or less active cases today. Since the start of the pandemic,  The Cayman Islands has had the 95th least number of cases per capita, out of 221 reporting countries / territories. And talking with Dr. Lee at school a couple weeks ago further solidified that we are in great hands.

The island is slowly opening up. Whilst this is greeted as a positive thing by many we must remain prudent. Flights coming to The Cayman Islands include service from Jamaica, Honduras, USA and UK. This means the possibility to reunite with family, friends and perhaps more typical travel habits. The COVID related numbers with respect to Jamaica and Honduras hover near world averages. The rate of vaccination in the USA and UK is really ramping up, yet these countries are 8th and 25th in the world for COVID cases per capita, are 1st and 5th in COVID related deaths, and 1st and 4th in the world for number of active cases and variants appear to be on the rise. I share the above, not for doom and gloom, but to highlight the importance of remaining prudent. The joys of swim meets, theatre performances, arts festivals, team sports, eating in restaurants, “real” hugs / handshakes / high fives, house gatherings and of course in-person, face-to-face school cannot be taken for granted.

The Cayman Islands have clear and effective protocols in place to arrive at the island. I personally experienced this in July with a stringent quarantine upon arrival, including being taken to the hotel via a police escort. Today, isolation procedures are not as stringent - which is believed to be a good thing to help the island slowly open up - a challenging thing because some folks have a laissez-faire approach to the isolation (sneaking a hug in here and there with loved ones on island to the well publicized breach involving a jet ski earlier in the year). Fortunately, it is reported that among the people who have breached protocols, there has been no virus transmission. However, one can sense an “antsiness” on island and in the CIS community. Mental health statistics on island back-up the notion of “antsiness” and evidence of anxiety because rates of mental health issues on island are reported to be twice as high as world norms for teens and adults alike. In a typical year, many of us might normally have friends and family visit or vice versa. Zoom fatigue for work and play, not being able to support ailing loved ones from afar or celebrate milestones in person are but a few things that may contribute to people’s uneasiness - despite the fact that we are living an normalish life on island.

Why share a COVID recap on this auspicious world anniversary? One, to remind us to appreciate what we have on island and within the CIS community in general. Two, to underscore, being prudent. Hand washing, have a mask handy for pharmacies and clinics, get rest, do exercise, eat healthy and stay home if sick - all remain de rigeur.  The vaccination process, on island, is smooth, efficient and easy too. Three, recall that we are just one outbreak away from the prospect of online learning on island, thus it is helpful to have plans for student work spaces and internet sharing still in place, should the need arise. Noting the obvious, that we all want the 2020-2021 school year to be a full school year in-person, face-to-face. It is a true joy not only having classes, events, sports, arts, service and even meetings in-person, face-to-face.

Wishing everyone a pleasant weekend - be well.

Sincerely,

 

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

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Vol 1 Ed 19 2020-2021 SY 5 March 2021 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)

Monday 8 March is International Women’s Day.  According to 2020 research by the Business Insider, the ten best countries to live in if you are a woman are: 10) Austria, 9) Australia, 8) New Zealand, 7) Switzerland, 6) Finland, 5) Canada, 4) Norway, 3) Netherlands, 2) Sweden, 1) Denmark. But, 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. So, imagine what challenges women face in countries and/or locations with limited resources, opportunities for education, availability of health care, and movements are needed or in place to promote and address human rights, income equality and  women’s progress and safety?

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 work together with our children to better understand issues of human rights, the gender income gap and progress and safety for women.

Enough of the allocution! To lighten the mood of this message, yet still provide food for thought, below is an eight question quiz. Please feel free to send me your responses should you so wish. The first five responders will receive a complimentary CIS pen.

  1.  Who said … ”Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.”

    1. Charlotte Whitton

    2. Harriet Tubman

    3. Angela Merkel

  2. Who said … “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.”

    1. Helen Keller

    2. Indira Gandhi

    3. Charlotte Whitton

  3. Approximately what percentage of people living in poverty in the world are women or girls?

    1. 70%

    2. 80%

    3. 90%

  4. Who said … “I never ran my train off the track, and I never lost a passenger.”

    1. Harriet Tubman

    2. Angela Merkel

    3. Helen Keller

  5. Who said … “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.”

    1. Indira Gandhi

    2. Charlotte Whitton

    3. Harriet Tubman

  6. Women perform the majority of the world’s labour. What percentage of income do they then receive?

    1. 10%

    2. 20%

    3. 30%

  7. Who said … “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.”

    1. Angela Merkel

    2. Indira Gandhi

    3. Helen Keller

  8. The first official International Women’s Day took place in…

    1. 1911

    2. 1926

    3. 1941

Bonus Question: Keeping in line with the fact it is basketball season on island - which is the most successful basketball team ever?

  1. Edmonton Grads

  2. Los Angeles Lakers

  3. UConn Huskies

Wishing everyone a pleasant weekend - be well.

Sincerely,

Jim

 

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School


Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


Vol 1 Ed 18 2020-2021 SY 26 February 2021 JU

 

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“My mother wanted me to be a lawyer and I wanted to be an actor. So I went to school, majored in theatre, and said ‘Mom, I have to choose my own destiny. I want to be an actor.’ A couple of weeks after I graduated college I called my mother and said, ‘Can I borrow $200?’ and she said ‘Why don't you act like you’ve got $200.’” - Arsenio Hall

Today, students in middle school and high school engaged in a career day. Thank you very much for the volunteers in the CIS community and beyond for sharing their time and expertise. Noting that people tend to have multiple jobs and careers over the course of time, I thought it apropos to share some of the life lessons not taught in schools according to Gregory J. Kelly.

Lesson #1

Life is not fair - get used to it. What is "fair" is usually in the eye of the beholder. Someone will always make more money than you, get ahead faster than you and get more lucky breaks than you. *Success comes to people who worry more about what they have to do to get ahead than what is happening to other people. Luck is preparation meeting opportunity. How prepared will you be when the next opportunity comes around?

Lesson #2

The world won't care about your self-esteem. It will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. *Confident people get that way because they accomplished hundreds of little things. They built their self-esteem task by task, project by project. Most people start off with no confidence. It grows slowly through experience.

Lesson #3

If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. *Your performance won't be measured by a test or a term paper. It will be scrutinized every day. And you don't get a new boss every semester; you're stuck with the one you have and you'd better find a way to get along. Also, you do not meet with counselors if you have poor attendance or frequently tardy - you get fired.

Lesson #4

Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it opportunity. *Ask a successful person about some of their first jobs and he or she will probably have some stories to tell. They waited tables, punched movie tickets and stocked shelves. Far from being demeaning, these jobs teach lessons about work that are the building blocks of success.

Lesson #5

If you mess up, it's not your parent's or teacher’s fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them. *The first place to look is in the mirror; it isn't on the internet for the number of an attorney.

Wishing you a pleasant weekend - be well.

Sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


Please note that the following changes to the CIS Calendar.

Friday, March 12 (School Staff Vaccination Day) is now a half-day and Friday, March 19 is now a full day.

Why the change?

As part of the Cayman Islands vaccination program the majority of people serving in schools received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination on Friday, February 19. This means most people serving in schools are scheduled to have their second dose on Friday, March 12.

Wednesday, April 14 (Election Day) is no school for students and Wednesday, May 18 is now a full day of school.

Why the change?

This change is due to the change of date for the Cayman Islands Election.

Monday, June 14 (Queen Elizabeth's II Birthday) is no school for students.

Why the change?

When the school made the 2020-2021 calendar, the school anticipated Monday, June 21 as the Queen’s Birthday as a public holiday. The Cayman Islands Government has posted that Monday, June 14 is the day the Queen’s Birthday will be observed as a public holiday.

The CIS Annual Calendar available on the website will be updated to reflect the above changes. Thank you for your understanding regarding these changes from the originally posted 2020-2021 calendar.


Vol 1 Ed 17 2020-2021 SY 29 January 2021 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” - Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday is February 14. On this day multiple countries around the world consider this Valentine’s Day. Over time, lore, history and day I say marketing, Valentine’s Day has morphed into a day to celebrate love. Western pop culture has told us that love is a many-splendored thing and money can’t buy us love. We have asked questions such as, is this love, and what is love. We have also learned that some people can’t help falling in love, love is what you want it to be, and that others say love stinks. Personally, I am fortunate to be crazy in love. Please note the above comments about love are compliments of the Four Aces, The Beatles, Bob Marley, Haddaway, Elvis Presely, Alana Myles, The J. Geils Band, and Beyonce.

Often unfairly maligned when it comes to love, is mathematics. In reality, there is a mathematical formula for love, and it is, (x2 + y2 - 1)3 - x2y3= 0.  This formula is expressed in the graph to the right. Whilst mathematics and music may indeed be universal languages of love, we cannot rule out the written word as a form of expression - just be sure to use proper punctuation when expressing your love in words, as illustrated in the examples below.

Example One - Punctuation use that indicates a love letter.

Dear John,

I want a person who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other people. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy–will you let me be yours? Sincerely, Maria

Example Two -  The same words, yet with different punctuation, turning a love letter into a break-up letter

Dear John,

Now, I want a person who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other people, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be? Sincerely, Maria

Wishing you a pleasant weekend and please be reminded that school resumes for students on Monday 22 February.

As far as love goes, if you still haven't found what you’re looking for, may you still have a beautiful day.

Sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 


Vol 1 Ed 16 2020-2021 SY 29 January 2021 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

Today 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 puzzle 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 report cards present 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 - in partnership,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 

 


Vol 1 Ed 15 2020-2021 SY 22 January 2021 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

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

The storming of the Capitol Building in Washington DC two weeks ago evokes multiple questions - questions that civilizations have struggled with for many millennia. Education is instinctively a path to peace. Empirically it is also a path to peace. There is a correlation between illiteracy and countries that have higher rates of violence, political instability, wars and coups. Indeed countries such as Afghanistan, Chad, Liberia, Mali, Haiti and South Sudan, all have literacy rates below 50%. Sadly, in times of crisis, countries tend to underfund education because more urgent needs such as food, shelter and medical care take priority.  UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) reports that worldwide 258 million children, adolescents and youth are not in school. In September, the UN (United Nations) projected that at least 24 million students in the world will drop out of school due to Covid-19. The Economics and Statistics Office of the Cayman Islands Government indicates that 30.1% of youth do not attend school full-time in the Cayman Islands. We know we are fortunate to live in the Cayman Islands. Nonetheless, numbers indicate that even on one of the most wealthy, sophisticated, and stable islands in the world challenges related to education are evident and thus potentially challenges related to peace.

Indeed, our world is glorious and miserable in the same breath. For a few years now we have bombarded with information about and the deployment of fifth generation (5G) broadband. 5G certainly provides greater speed of communication, and the continued development of faster technologies has many external benefits.  I do wonder though, how much speed is really needed. Especially when over 258 million children are not in school and close to 700 million people go to sleep underfed. I wonder if sometimes we miss the boat with rapid growth - with rapid growth are things left behind? I wonder if there is another 5G that does not rely on speed, but time, patience and cultivation. This 5G may be,

Green

Global

Gallant

Grateful

Generous

The above form of 5G, just might have great power in supporting a path to peace. As Martin Luther King Jr. remarked, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Wishing everyone a pleasant long weekend as our island appreciates and celebrates National Heroes Day in the Cayman Islands.

 

Sincerely,

Jim

 

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 


Vol 1 Ed 14 2020-2021 SY 8 January 2021 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” - Carl Jung

THE NEW BUILDING

Frank Lloyd Wright notes that you can use an eraser on the drafting table or a sledgehammer on the construction site. I am pleased to share that there are no sledgehammers on campus and our new building and additional grounds are now open for student and staff use! The new building and corresponding grounds are now safe to use and indeed High School students have begun classes in the new building. The points below highlight helpful information regarding use and access.

Who can access the building at the moment?

  • From now until 26 January 2021, only CIS students, staff and authorized contractors and subcontractors may enter the new building. Authorized contractors and subcontractors consist of Cleaning Teams, Audio-Visual, Tech Teams, Security Teams, Food Service Teams, Installation Teams, Punch List Contractors, and Shipping Teams.

When is the official ceremonial opening?

  • After the February break. More details to follow.

  • What logistics are helpful for me to know at this time?

  • Parking - The parking lot adjacent to the new building is open and in use for staff and students. There is also parking available for visitors in this new parking lot. The addition of this parking lot has already curtailed some of the congestion around the school during pick-up and drop-off.

  • Tours of the new Building - There will be tours for CIS Parents and Alumni on Wednesday 27 January 2021 and Wednesday 3 February 2021. The RSVP form will be sent out to the CIS Community via the Weekly Current, but you can sign up here as well.

  • Part of our Fabric - When walking around the school grounds the new building feels and looks like it has always been part of the campus. This is a tribute to the design and work of the builders. Indeed the building and corresponding grounds are purposefully and magically becoming part of our learning and community environment.

COMMUNITY

Our campus’ setting, grounds and facilities are undoubtedly impressive. This special environment lends itself to learning, an appreciation for our surroundings and a sense of community. While a lovely setting and facilities certainly add to a school - it is not necessarily the essence of a school. A school is its people, its community, its teamwork, its academics, its athletics, its arts, its activities, its care for each other, its service and its spirit. These are the things that make a school a community. Fortunately, our grounds and facilities complement the above by providing opportunities of space, symbolism, exploration, leadership, learning and community.

Coach Greg is a long standing member of the CIS Community and beyond. I am pleased to share that he is slowly but surely recovering from his very serious accident. He remains in critical condition and hopefully he will be out of critical care in the coming days. Darcy, Greg’s wife, continues to appreciate people’s sensitivity to their privacy. Greg and Darcy are very appreciative of everyone’s thoughts and support. They still cannot have visitors or deliveries. Via ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) a site has been created where people can provide support for Greg’s recovery. If interested, please see the ARK Link for Coach Greg.

HAPPY NEW YEAR and WELCOME BACK

We are nine days into 2021. By this time many of us have come to terms with our hopes and dreams from the New Year - dare I say a New Year resolution or, if you will, a New Year target. Such goals often involve something around health and happiness. In your quest for may your vision become clear when you look into your heart. As Carl Jung notes, “Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”

Wishing you health, happiness and peace in 2021 - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


Vol 1 Ed 13 2020-2021 SY 4 December 2020 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

Recruiting, developing and retaining excellent staff that inspire students, colleagues and the broader CIS community is extremely important – many school heads argue that this is the most important thing they do. 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 March 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.

According to the ISC Research (an agency that specializes in market research related to international schools), in 2018 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. Pre-pandemic projections indicated 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 its formal recruiting, reviewing and hiring process. In fact, today, this week was one of our 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 (this year there are monthly iFairs), 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, practice lessons and thorough reference checking, just to share a brief overview of the process.

Anticipated openings for the 2020-2021 school year are posted on our website, with ISS and with WORC (Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman). This year the recruiting season has been pushed later in international schools. Over the past 20 years the heaviest recruiting month has creeped earlier and earlier from late February to October. This year things are different with the recruiting season anticipated to be longer and later as people and schools manage the challenges the pandemic has presented.  CIS is fortunate to garner interest from candidates. For example, for our most recently advertized posting, in two weeks, we received 52 applicants who met the required experience, training and education. This is reassuring data, 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 present a recruiting challenge. Our perennial challenge is to ensure our professional climate at CIS is an environment in which current and future staff wish to serve. The recruiting season is complex, exciting, ongoing and time consuming. CIS takes great care in its recruiting, using a variety of protocols, as mentioned above, in order to ensure our faculty and staff is aligned with our principles (kindness, partnership, sustainability, good intent), appreciative of our mission (connect, inspire, serve) and dedicated to global citizenship.

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 


Vol 1 Ed 12 2020-21 SY November 27, 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” - Oprah Winfrey

While yesterday was designated as a day of thanks in the United States of America - fortunately, giving thanks transcends national boundaries.

Times of sharing, thanks and celebration often involve food. For example, in Cayman one might bring Cayman Style Beef to express thanks. Our neighbors in Jamaica might bring ackee and saltfish to a celebration of thanks. In the UK one might bring shortbread. In the US a meal of thanks might involve potatoes, turkey and a family casserole. Wherever you may be from, we have much to be thankful for in Cayman. It is clear that on island there is a palpable low grade hum of anxiety due to concomitant factors including; disruption of lives from the pandemic, people unable to travel to see family / to visit family, worry for loved ones, media from around the world and more. We still have much to be thankful for, particularly because on island our lives have a semblance of normalcy.

Forbes Magazine lists the following as the top ten things to be thankful for,

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

Thanks / Gratitude is one of the few things in life that can be truly shared. For example, today, I shared a chocolate bar with a colleague. While this was nice, the chocolate bar was not wholly shared (I had half the chocolate bar and my colleague had half of the chocolate bar). Thus, in reality, my sharing resulted in me having 50% less of my chocolate bar. Keeping with the chocolate bar 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. 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 Gratitude,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 


Vol 1 Ed 11 2020-21 SY November 20, 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

"My doctor recently told me that jogging could add years to my life. I think he was right. I feel ten years older already." - Milton Berle

Today a young CIS students asked me, “Mr. Jim, why is your stomach so big, are you heavy, do you exercise?” At first I laughed. Then I was appreciative because they gave me the benefit of asking, “are you heavy,” rather than just saying something like, Mr. Jim I see you do not skip many meals. Finally, I was reflective regarding their question about exercise. Regular exercise is probably something that many people wish they would do more often. 

The benefits of exercise are well documented and include,

  • Improved physical health
  • Improved mental health
  • Enhanced sleep
  • Increased energy
  • Opportunities to connect with oneself and or nature an /or family and friends

The odd thing is that many of us do not make time for exercise or movement - yet we all know exercise, in its many forms, has a plethora of short-term and long-term benefits.  As the weather gets less humid, it may become easier to move around outside.

May we all find a way to exercise more often as December approaches - this will save time and energy in making a January or New Year resolution to exercise more. As Edward Stanley noted, “Those who think they have no time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness”.

Wishing everyone an active weekend starting tomorrow or in the near future.

In partnership,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School


Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


Vol 1 Ed 10 2020-2021 SY November 6, 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Please be reminded that there is no school for students on Monday 9 November as the Cayman Islands observes Remembrance Day the second Monday of every November. 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 take 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 below).

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, I forlornly note, rarely does a day go by that we are not reminded that the world needs more peace and, for that matter, kindness. For those of us fortunate enough to live in peaceful places, such as the Cayman Islands and elsewhere, 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 instabilty 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.

Each year to support remembering those who have fallen, CIS participates in the annual Poppy Appeal. 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.

In Flanders Fields 

By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae - physician, soldier, poet

 

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. 

 

In partnership and peace,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School


Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


Vol 1 Ed 9 2020-2021 SY October 30, 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Next week students in Elementary, Middle and High School receive their report cards. Also, next Thursday and Friday, there are Elementary, Middle and High School Parent Conferences. Considering the above, in this edition of the Director’s Wave,  I share with you a few of my favorite stories / notions about conferences and report cards.

Conferences - Something to Ponder

“Parenting is one of the easiest things in the world to have an opinion about, but one of the hardest things in the world to do – likewise, teaching is one of the easiest things in the world to have an opinion about, but one of the hardest things to do.” - Anonymous

"There is a cliched unwritten school/home agreement in every country…”If parents promise not to believe everything their child says happens at school – the school promises not to believe everything your child says happens at home.” – Anonymous

To assist with the conferences, below are some tried and true hints. The following suggestions for successful conferences are adapted from the work of Dr. Michael Thompson, noted school psychologist, researcher and author,

  1. Be on time for conferences and respect time limits.
  2. Be honest with teachers and make your concerns known in a respectful manner.
  3. Show appreciation for teachers.
  4. Take time to reflect before the conference and try to prepare specific questions.
  5. Try to remember that your information probably came through a child’s perspective.
  6. Try to be open-minded. Listen first, reflect and then act.
  7. Discuss the issues rather than the teachers.
  8. It is okay to feel defensive on behalf of your child, but act as an advocate, not an excuse-maker.
  9. 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).
  10. Remember that we are all on the same side – we all want each child to be as successful as possible.

Report Cards - Something to Ponder

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 even 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, a sample letter that in its time would have gone viral on the internet. Alas, it was written long before the internet was in common use.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I’ve asked the receptionist to give you this as soon as you get back from work, so you’ll know where I am. Bobby’s mom is taking me to the airport. I will be flying to Cayman Brac. I met a nice girl from there when we were on holidays. She said I could move in with her.

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. 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,

Gerald

P.S. I am fine and the house is fine. The note is only a bad 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 Bobby'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 end to the month of October and because of Halloween … may we all find the time to brush and floss our teeth thoroughly.

In partnership - sincerely,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


COMING SOON … THE CIS COMMUNITY LEARNING SERIES

CIS is in the process of confirming many opportunities for the community to engage in discussion and learning together. Below is some foreshadowing of  the various types of CIS Community Learning Gatherings coming soon at CIS.

School Wide

  • School-Wide Gatherings generally occur once per month. A session may be on a different day depending on holidays etc. School-Wide Gatherings are designed to be EC to Grade 12 relevant.

Division-Specific / Age Group Specific

  • Division-Wide Gatherings generally occur less frequently and on an as needed basis. Division-Wide Gatherings are usually more specific and may be relevant specifically to Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle or High School.

Topic Specific

  • Topic Specific Gatherings are for more specific items such as working with a small group of new families, or a seminar on a new opportunity that might pertain to smaller groups. These gatherings might involve multiple sessions in a series.

Program Specific

  • Program Specific Gatherings are generally oriented to greater understanding of specific programs or opportunities at CIS. Program Specific Gatherings may include parent evenings in the library, curricular sharing opportunities where parents may be invited in to see or learn about specific programs in action.

Community Specific

  • Community Specific Gatherings are generally related to events, initiatives and programs unique to the Cayman Islands. These may take the form of a mini-lecture series to help learn more about our island.

 


Vol 1 Ed 8 2020-2021 SY October 16, 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls.” - Maya Angelou

Future Learning - CIS and The Cayman Islands are home to many nationalities - we may be diverse by passport of course – but also in regards to beliefs around education. We are blessed to be part of a school community where the vast majority of our parents are very supportive of education in general. In turn, the vast majority of our parents found success in the education system in which they studied as younger people – in short – the system has served the adults in our community well.

Today is the beginning of the school’s October Break. Breaks can be a good time for reflection and questions. The nature of this Weekly Current - Director’s Wave contribution is to question whether the education systems  we as adults participated in are best suited for what will serve our children best. The questions I share below are meant to provoke thinking around how we think about education. 

Should schools be great at status quo or looking to explore and change? - Most education systems, and certainly those most definitely found on the island and in the UK focus on reducing the gap between what some agency says students should know, against what students show they know. Does such an approach serve our students well in connecting, inspiring, and serving them. Could schools, in general, look more towards creativity as a driver - celebrating and cultivating the multiple talents that might capitalize on diversity to foster new talents that might be valued tomorrow (meaning the future). For example, the talents and skills of a person like Bill Gates would not have served him well 80 years ago, but today they are critical. Literacy is a skill that was not needed at all until the printing press was invented less than 500 years ago – before brawn was surely the skill of choice.

Is graduating from university still the “ticket” to success? - In the USA over 40% of recent college graduates have jobs that do not require a degree. About seven million college students will graduate in China this year – the expected  unemployment rate or under-employment for these graduates is close to 50%. In the EU, there are notable mismatches with skills needed and education – the European Commission reports that many jobs are unfilled in the EU, even though we are in an economic downturn. What talents are not being cultivated in schools, universities and at home? Societies change, and therefore societies’ needs change, thus redefining the talents that are valued. To lighten the heaviness of the above question – I personally am still waiting for the talent of hamburger eating to become a valuable skill for society.

Should schools be focused on fixing the past or creating the future? - Considering the numbers above…should our students be job finders or job creators? If learning to create jobs is becoming more critical,  we need to look at problem-solving (creating our meal) versus following a solution (using a recipe). Is creating jobs even enough? When you read/watch the news it isn’t easy to find much that inspires – there is a lot of injustice, violence and dishonesty – should we therefore be focusing on things such as mindfulness, contentment and being harbingers of peace. If there is truth to the above, should schools be more strength-based and patience and passion-driven, rather than following something that one could argue was made in the past to serve people living in a world that did not change as fast as our current world? In this scenario, schools must look to inspire, rather than merely dictate what people should know – indeed in some disciplines much of the content learned in one’s first year of university is obsolete by the time they graduate. Yet, skills of connecting, habits of health, attributes of kindness, the value of hard work, and the character of doing the right thing even when nobody is watching remain constant. With this in mind, the joy of exploration, the desire to work hard and the willingness to unlearn are becoming increasingly more important. 

Be well - please be reminded that classes resume for students on Monday 26 October 2020.

Sincerely,

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

 

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


Vol 1 Ed 7 2020-2021 SY October 9, 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

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

Today our island received news of a positive symptomatic COVID-19 case outside of quarantine. No doubt you are now well informed about the island’s developments and hopefully have read the information from CIS. Please be reminded that CIS uses email as its main platform of communication should we need to provide further updates.

In our announcements today, you may have noticed that after school activities were cancelled for Friday afternoon, as well as weekend activities. Doing so is always a difficult decision because it disrupts many people’s planning, including students, staff and parents. On a personal level, I feel this too, because normally I would be coaching volleyball after school. The main rationale for after school activities being cancelled in this case is that several of our after school activities involve third party instructors who also work with people from other schools and organizations. Thus, in consultation with health authorities and to mitigate risk, we have cancelled activities until we know more about the positive symptomatic COVID-19 case at the other school and its reach. We understand that the above is not ideal and disrupts students, staff, parents and the school - yet at this time risk mitigation superceeds disruption. Please know, as of today, we anticipate school being open as normal on Monday 12 October 2020. We appreciate the community’s cooperation and understanding.

Be well - may you, your family’s and friends have a pleasant and quiet weekend.

In partnership,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 


Vol 1 Ed 6 2020-2021 SY October 2, 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Somethings to Ponder

“Relationships are harder now because conversations become texting, arguments become phone calls, and feelings become status updates.” - attributed to many

The ubiquity and reach of social media platforms is startling. Indeed, the rate of social media use is astonishing, and is even more startling when considering the following approximate numbers from 2020 so far.

  • Cell Phones - There are close to 5.2 billion cell phones users worldwide
  • Email - There are over 4 billion email users worldwide → roughly 300 billion emails sent and received each day
  • Texting - In the USA alone, more than 10 trillion texts are year → over 27 billion texts per day
  • WhatsApp - Over 2 billion users worldwide
    • The minimum age to use WhatsApp is 13 (16 in the European Region)
  • Snapchat - Over 240 million daily users worldwide → an average of over 4 billion snapchats per day
    • The minimum age to use Snapchat is 13 (older in some regions)
  • Instagram - Over 1 billion monthly users worldwide → an average of 95 million photos are shared per day
    • The minimum age to use Instagram is 13 (older in some regions)
  • Facebook - 2.7 billion monthly active users worldwide → 1.8 billion daily users
    • The minimum age to use Facebook is 13 (older in some regions)
  • Twitter - Over 325 million monthly users worldwide → an average of 500 million tweets per day
    • The minimum age to use Twitter is 13

Social media is like The Force in Star Wars - it can be found everywhere. The Force is strong and has two sides - one of good and one of evil. I fear that social media, in Star Wars terms, leans to the darkside of The Force. Yes, there is the good side for sure; sharing updates with family on a different continent is certainly a great example of social media’s good side. Yet, social media is also the bastion of cyberbullying, cybercrime, and poor judgement. This great tool/platform of communication and learning is also a great tool/platform for all manner of exploitation. Some estimates are as high as 70% of young people in North America and Europe experience adverse social media effects.

Unfortunately, there is no fail safe way to protect our children - and ourselves for that matter - when it comes to the darkside of social media. There is wide agreement however, that talking with our children about responsible and safe use is the most valuable way to stave off the darkside of social media and promote the good side. I wonder too, that in the future will social media contain stark messages about health (like we see on packs of cigarettes) as a warning to proceed with caution - or - will society find a way to effectively and safely use social media as a powerful learning tool.

In partnership,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

 

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim


Vol 1 Ed 5 2020-2021 SY 25 September 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Somethings to Ponder

“Children today are cosseted and pressured in equal measure. Without the freedom to play they will never grow up.” - Peter Gray

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room.” - Socrates (roughly 400 BC)

Being a parent is difficult, and so is being a child. As I become older and wiser (not really wiser - probably older and wider is more accurate), I am becoming more convinced that we as parents inadvertently make our children’s lives more difficult because we may not be involved enough or often more accurately in recent years - too involved. Parents often know what their child is doing each waking moment. Children may be over-scheduled with adult-lead activities. Adults are quick to jump in to attempt to solve issues for their children. There is a fast-growing body of evidence that the above, all with good intentions, are doing a disservice to our children. Indeed, young students today (whether in kindergarten or university) as a whole, demonstrate less independence, then say, we did when we were younger, and certainly our parents and grandparents. Some researchers attribute this to the notion of Play Deficit Disorder. Children in developed countries today play less than children of previous generations. At play, many important life lessons tend to be learnt in an authentic setting through trial and error, taking initiative, creating, having time to reflect and solve things by oneself or with peers rather than having an adult step in (arguably too quickly). Indeed, at play, people develop emotionally, physically and intellectually and socially.

While the western world may have coined the term Play Deficit Disorder. Some parts of the eastern world have coined the phrase, “High Scores Low Ability,” referring to long term results of children spending most of their time studying to attain high scores on tests - that in the grand scheme of things have limited relevance to “real-life.” The result being that children have less time to be independent, creative and to find ways to solve complex social issues on their own or with their peers.

The life lessons of play help young people (and older people for that matter) grapple with important life skills of honesty, humility, bravery, empathy and respect. These important lessons can be learnt in a class or adult-organized setting, however, they can be truly experienced and internalized in the setting of play. For example; long term studies over the past 60 years in the USA show that accompanying the decline in play, there has been a steady decline in empathy, as well as a steady rise in anxiety disorders and narcissism in students.

It is worrisome that Play Deficit Disorder or High Scores Low Ability may be influencing generation(s) of potentially anxiety ridden narcissists who lack empathy. If play helps galvanize lessons of empathy, humility, honesty, bravery and respect, then perhaps playing outdoors without electronics is something that should be further cultivated or re-cultivated by us, as parents.

In partnership,

Jim

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 


Vol 1 Ed 4 2020-2021 SY 18 September 2020 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

Feedback

Last Sunday while walking on the beach I overheard what sounded like an older brother shout at a younger brother, “You are doing it wrong - leave me alone - I will do it myself - you don’t know how to do anything!” To be sure, I heard many wonderful sounds of people and the environment too, such as friends cheering on each other on skimboards. It is interesting how words of encouragement or discouragement vary between activities and people. For example; the audience at a symphony is different from a football/soccer game, a grandparent talking with a grandchild is different from two siblings talking, parents watching their child in a school performance is different from watching a movie at home, the audience in a classroom is different from a music lesson, and the list goes on.

Do such differences make sense? Does the behaviour of an audience help or hinder the people being watched? Does shouting things when watching young people make sense? What if your child was playing an instrument in a theatrical or music performance? Would you shout things like…Come on! Speed it up! Slow down! Great song! For crying out loud put your fingers on the right note! Hey, conductor, change the music! Similarly, would you do things like go to every rehearsal and shout and cheer while your child is practicing their music… or would you talk to the conductor after the rehearsal and tell them your child should be playing percussion instead of strings. Would doing all or some of the above make sense?

What if you were observing your child in the classroom? Would you cheer things like…Read faster! Write slower! Look what the other person is doing, why don’t you do that! Come on, keep your head up, and be ready for the next question! Turn the page or I will strangle you! Would you... Booo! Start clapping slowly and build to a crescendo of fast clapping! Would doing all or some of the above improve a child’s learning in class or during work at home?

What if your child was playing a sport, yet we cheered as if it were a theater or musical performance? Would we do things like…Wait and clap and cheer very loudly at the end of the game - so loudly that the players come back on to play another half of football...Bring flowers to the athletes after the game…Thank the coaches…Remain silent while the game is being played. Would doing all or some of the above help our children?

The way we communicate with our children, family members and friends varies greatly in light of the situation, our own experiences, and our cultural perspectives. It also varies greatly in tone, body language and timing. If there was an absolute perfect way to provide feedback to people, then schools, parents and coaches would be doing close to exactly the same thing around the world. The challenge is that there is no perfect way. Fortunately, there are some guidelines to providing feedback that do transcend school, sport, art, activities, teaching and parenting, namely ensuring the feedback is Kind, Specific and Useful. In our support of people regardless of the endeavor, Kind, Specific and Useful feedback over time tends to help people learn – whether it be at play, at work, at home or at school.

In partnership,

Jim

 

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

 

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 


                                                                                                        Vol 1 Ed 3 2020-2021 SY 11 September 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

Something to Ponder

“Experience is what you get when you do not get what you want.” - attributed to many

When watching the news, it does not take much time to feel very fortunate that we live in the Cayman Islands. A cross section of news from around the world includes; the International Criminal Court opening a case to examine crimes against the Rohingya, wildfires in the west coast of the USA, world-wide the gap between wealthy and poor is expanding more rapidly than before, each day there are examples of racism in most every country on earth (including our wonderful island), and it is estimated in the coming week the world will surpass a million deaths due to Covid-19.

Many of us in the CIS community travel from a comfortable home to a lovely school to a preferred grocery store then to beautiful locations for recreation - it is important for us to be cognizant that despite of this, our island is not void from issues, far from it.  Yet, in the grand scheme of things we are very fortunate to call The Cayman Islands home. It is important that we do not rest on the fact that we are fortunate, and in many ways life seems “normal” on island, though we still need to have measures in place to manage risks. The Cayman Islands are in the top 50% for Covid-19 cases per capita in the world. I wonder if we are becoming too comfortable with the notion that we may have weathered the Covid-19 storm. Indeed, we have three active Covid-19 cases on island and in the coming weeks the island has a soft opening. It may sound like I have been reading too many “Chicken Little” stories and that the “sky is falling.” Nonetheless, it is important not to let our collective guard down too early, especially when it comes to health.

As a reminder, it is important or members of our community to wash your hands well with soap, 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). It is important to stay home if you are sick,  it does not hurt to have your masks handy just in case, and it is helpful to stay wise with interactions inside and outside our circle of family and friends. Finally, “Those who think they have no time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” - Edward Stanley

Wishing you a good weekend and may you have the opportunity to have healthy meals, do some exercise and continue to appreciate that we get to call The Cayman Islands our home.

 

In partnership,

Jim

 

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

 

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 

    


                                                                                               Vol 1 Ed 2 2020-2021 SY 4 September 2020 JU

Dear CIS Community,

 Something to Ponder

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

The notion of teaching them what counts resonates deeply with me on a professional level, and is heightened this time of year on a personal level. My wife and I now live roughly 3300 kilometres from our son and 3200 kilometres from our daughter as the crow flies from The Cayman Islands or roughly 11 hours of travel via airplane and car. In referencing the above quotation, the good news is that our children  can count very well, are  attending excellent universities and have the good fortune of scholarships. This is all fine, however, as I write this (secretly hoping my children might call)  I can assure you academic performance is the furthest from my mind. What is going through my mind, as well as the minds of the other empty nesters I have met along the way, are all the things related to what counts and what matters in life. I, like the other parents, know the academic part of learning will fall into place - and naturally we all want our children to do as well as they can in their studies. What actually is on the collective parental minds though are concepts related to independence, good decision-making, self-advocacy, safety and health. And of course, not having our children at home - it means two less chairs at the supper table each evening. This is  life I suppose - yet I am sure that at this time of year in the northern hemisphere there are thousands of parents (and siblings for that matter) wishing that chairs at the dinner table were not empty and hoping very hard that their children (young adults) are making wise decisions, having fun, being kind to others, and being 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 practice, 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. 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 predictably come to school events their children tend to have a student work completion rate 15% to 20% higher than students whose parent(s) did not attend such an event. During a pandemic, doing the above is more complex than non-pandemic times because face to face meetings and  larger group meetings are curtailed.

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 behavioural 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. Below is 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 the strengths / dangers of social media

  • Talking with your child about prudent health habits around hygiene, rest, and being COVID astute

  • Listening to our children and not just telling them exactly what to do when a difficult situation arises

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, in partnership,

 

Jim

 

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School

 

Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 


Vol 1 Ed 1 2020-2021 SY 28 August 2020

Dear CIS Community,                                                                         

Something to Ponder

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” - Carl Jung

The start 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 week of school is one of the many joys of serving in education. Indeed reopening our school during a worldwide pandemic added to the anticipation, excitement and trepidation of our collective community.

Learning at CIS is a Partnership

Earlier this week, many adults and children in our community came to CIS for new family orientation. I also had the pleasure of talking with many parents at two off campus meetings and an online meeting last week. This partnership not only supports the CIS community, it also allows us to celebrate learning, learn from each other, better manage and ideally thrive in a world that may be more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous then we, as parents, experienced when we were in school.

 Committed to Learning at CIS

We often speak of schools being places of learning…this refers to learning for all in the community - students, teachers, parents, and administrators. Additionally, CIS as a learning community continues to grow and evolve. For close to 15 years as CIS and roughly just over 10 years as the Faulkner Academy, our international school has adapted and continually improved to meet the needs of its community, across different time periods, within different buildings and across changing environmental and economic settings. The reverse is true too, in that the CIS community has also adjusted to changes in education and the reality of being a diverse school that is mission driven. We must continue to anticipate what our students today will need for tomorrow’s world. The challenge of course being that the future is the hardest thing to predict.

We also need to make good use of what we know about how students learn; processes and approaches that are often different than those used in the recent past. Some might argue that even more important than learning, is the ability or comfort with “unlearning” and being comfortable with ambiguity. This requires our school (and education in general) to better leverage the learning implications of current brain research, new knowledge in the field of child development, and balancing what may be important to adults with what may be the passions of children. The world’s knowledge now doubles so rapidly that it is not uncommon for things learned in the first year of university to be obsolete by the time a student enters their final year. With the above in mind, schools have become more complex, elements of parenting have changed and the nature of young people’s lives certainly continues to change. Indeed, change has become the default. We do know that our community principles of kindness, partnership, sustainability and good intent are elements that transcend time and help our students to manage change and be strong global citizens.

Wishing you all the best in the new school year, in partnership.

 

Jim Urquhart

Director - Cayman International School


Professional Feedback Survey - Please click HERE to provide feedback to Jim

 

Jim Urquhart

Director, Cayman International School