The expansion of Cayman International School is an exciting project that will enhance the educational experience for students, increase the capacity of the school to nearly 1100 (including four classes at each grade level), and will maintain the small class sizes and positive culture that CIS is known for. The new Early Childhood Center provides an extraordinary environment for our youngest learners to play, grow and learn, and the new High School building, including a double gymnasium and performing arts spaces, is designed for contemporary collaborative learning. In recent years, CIS has become widely recognized in international education circles, and this remarkable expansion project will further its growing reputation for excellence.
CIS EXPANSION PLANS REVEALED
International Schools Services President Liz Duffy said the new facilities would enable Cayman International School to serve more children from pre-K to grade 12. "The new learning spaces will ensure CIS students have access to a world-class education that prepares them for the global, interconnected world," she said.
Cayman International School began as Faulkner Academy in 1994. In 2002, International Schools Services, a U.S.-based non-profit organisation, purchased the school and changed its name to Cayman International School the following year.
In 2006, Cayman International School moved to Camana Bay with 209 students, becoming the development's first tenant. Its current enrolment of 630 students represents a growth of over 300 percent in 11 years.
The first two phases of the school and its surrounding facilities at Camana Bay, which cost US$53 million, consisted of the administration building, four classroom blocks and three labs, along with the football field, the pool, the basketball and tennis courts and the Arts & Recreation Centre.
A US$9.4 million, three-phase expansion of the school, which started in 2014 and finished in 2016, added eight classrooms, three labs and other upgrades, bringing the total capital investment in the Cayman International School campus to US$62.4 million. The new expansion project will nearly double that investment.
Duffy said Cayman International School has benefited enormously from its partnership with Dart over the past 12 years.
"Both of us are committed to ensuring that students in Cayman have access to a teaching and learning experience second to none," she said. "Dart's substantial investment in the growth and development of Camana Bay and Cayman, and its commitment to building top-quality facilities, very much complement ISS's long-term focus on establishing leading international schools around the world."
After the expansion is complete, the school will be able to accommodate approximately 1,070 students, allowing it to grow from three classes at each grade level to four classes at each grade level. CIS Director Jeremy Moore said the expansion was needed in order to provide an enhanced education for additional children."This school year, wait lists were established in all early childhood grades, most elementary grade levels and some secondary grade levels," he said. "The additional capacity will allow the school to offer new educational opportunities, additional courses and expanded programming."
Moore said the early childhood facility will provide an environment that is specifically designed for the school's youngest learners and will facilitate educational experiences that are in line with Cayman International School's contemporary teaching philosophy.
"CIS approaches education in a manner that focuses on the whole child — intellectually, socially, emotionally and physically — and engages students in progressive learning experiences that are relevant, meaningful and are based on real-world problems," he said.
The early childhood facility will consist of a nursery, pre-K classrooms, a library, a teaching kitchen, as well as music and movement rooms, the latter a place where children can develop their motor skills. There will also be covered, outdoor learning gardens for each classroom, and a designed outdoor play space for the children.
"Students in the early childhood facility will be immersed in larger spaces with additional areas for growing and playing," Moore said. "Programmes like music and movement and perceptual motor, which are currently curtailed due to lack of space, will thrive in the new environment, and the early childhood library will be the pièce de résistance." The new high school building will transform and improve upper-grade students' experiences in many ways, Moore said.
"The new high school building is designed to be flexible and accommodate contemporary approaches to teaching and learning," he said. "Ultimately, it will enhance deeper learning by providing students opportunities to engage in constructivist activities in a variety of spaces, rather than to simply sit in rows and listen to lectures in boring boxes. The innovative design for the high school will promote collaboration, enable inquiry-based and project-based learning and create an atmosphere of excellence for students."
The positive culture, small class sizes and personal relationships with students, hallmarks of the CIS experience, will continue, Moore said, "This culture and philosophy will not change with the expansion and we will maintain the low student-to-teacher ratios and special attention that we are known for," he said. "We are not changing the essence of who we are; we are adding space to serve more students. The expansion will allow us to continue to introduce programmes that will both keep CIS at the forefront of international education and also enable it to serve as a resource for all educators and students in Cayman."
Investing in world-class educational amenities at Cayman International School is the basis of the long-running partnership between the International School Services and the KBD Foundation Ltd.
The partnership has been fruitful, said Duffy.
"Working together we've been able to create a school for Cayman with outstanding faculty, staff, facilities and programming that is financially sustainable and respected not just across the region, but also around the world," she said.
While ISS seeks to establish a centre of academic excellence in the Cayman Islands as part of its worldwide portfolio of international schools, the KBD Foundation supports self-sustaining programmes that contribute to economic growth and prosperity in the community.
"The primary purpose of expanding the school is to increase capacity, but there are many associated benefits," said Ian Downing, Dart's chief financial officer and a director of the KBD Foundation. "Availability of access to top-quality education is critical for Cayman at this time. The new facilities at CIS are designed not only to meet current needs but also to support future growth."
Downing said one of the challenges for people relocating to Grand Cayman is they cannot find placement at schools for their children. Without a place for their children to go to school, these employees — who provide skills and talent that is unavailable locally — are not able to take the positions offered. In turn, Cayman doesn't get the economic impact of that family in terms of investment in the community, which could include buying real estate.
"The indirect benefits to the community at large are far-reaching," said Downing. "While we do not expect to recover our costs in full, our trust in CIS to operate the school to the highest standards, as proven by its track record over the past 12 years, gives us the confidence to move forward with the expansion."
After a programme analysis was conducted by an architecture firm in New York City and the project was given the go-ahead, the Chicago-based architectural firm Perkins+Will was selected to do the design. That firm is headed by Lawrence Kline, who was personally responsible for the design of the original Cayman International School campus while employed by Spillis Candela. Perkins+Will has collaborated with school administrators, parents and students to design a dynamic and technologically advanced learning environment to meet CIS's needs through the master-planned, phased expansion of the school.
Justin Howe, Dart Development Senior Vice President Development & Engineering, said the design phase will run through the end of this year.
"We are fast-tracking the design and construction of the facilities to enable CIS to address the demand at the pre-K level and help families get their children into school," said Howe. "We are targeting August 2019 for opening of the new pre-K facilities and August 2020 for the new high school facilities."