Teachers in Cayman hail from all over the world bringing new ways of teaching, experiences and knowledge. To gain further insights into the trials and tribulations of teaching, we asked four teachers to break it down for us.

Leslie Hayes

Leslie Hayes

Leslie Hayes is a Lead Educational Psychologist at the Department of Education Services.

What has been the best moment of your career so far?

I have many memorable moments from my career. I find it so fulfilling due to the culmination of many small successes over time. Whenever I feel that I have truly helped a family or a child, I am reminded why I do what I do and why I should keep moving forward. Taking the time to recognise and appreciate the small wins gives me joy.

What’s your best technique for gaining a child’s trust when you first meet them?

I always try to introduce myself at eye level, with a smile. I enjoy getting to know students before we start any work by asking about their likes and finding mutual topics of interest. Taking the time to build rapport and making the child feel valued is never time wasted.

Which famous person would you see as a good role model to children?

I like to introduce famous people with disabilities to show students examples of how common learning differences are and how successful a person can be regardless of any disability. Stars like Simone Biles (ADHD) and Michael Jordan (dyslexia) are always hits.

Which of your current or previous colleagues do you admire the most and why?

I am in constant admiration of the team of psychologists and music therapists that I work with at the DES. They are the most passionate, creative and intelligent people I have ever had the opportunity to work with. They work so well to support each other and to support the children and families in our government schools. Being part of a strong team makes me a better Educational Psychologist and makes my work so much more satisfying.

Eloise Jones

Eloise Jones

Eloise Jones is a Reception Teacher at Footsteps School.

What has been the best moment of your career so far?

Being accepted to ’Teach First’, an internationally recognised training programme that develops great, inspiring teachers and leaders, and then being offered the opportunity to join Footsteps. I had always wanted to work overseas and immediately identified with the school’s vision and ethos.

Do you think there should be more opportunities to teach outdoors in Cayman?

I am very fortunate. As a nature school we have bi-monthly outdoor learning days. Any opportunity to take our lessons outdoors is encouraged and it allows students to directly experience and connect with the natural environment. This fosters a sense of appreciation and respect for nature, promotes environmental awareness and encourages children to become good stewards of their surroundings.

If you hadn’t become a teacher what career might you have chosen?

I always wanted to be a lawyer but my history teacher told me I would never get the grades. It shaped what A levels I took and changed my career path. Safe to say when I received that A* in history I was very happy to prove her wrong! This is also why I will never tell a pupil that they are not capable of anything they put their minds to!

You can take your class anywhere in the world, budget unlimited. Where would you take them and why? 

Beyond the Earth and into space! What could inspire a young mind more than to realise how big the universe is and that the possibilities and opportunities for them are endless. Space travel is inherently captivating and awe-inspiring. By taking students to space, you could ignite their curiosity and passion for learning.

Aimee Chipchase

Aimee Chipchase

Aimee Chipchase is an Early Years Phase Lead and Reception Class Teacher at St. Ignatius.

How has teaching changed or evolved since you first became a teacher?

I would say that the use of technology in schools is the biggest change that I have seen. Technology has introduced a multitude of digital tools and resources that have enhanced teaching and learning. It has also helped to streamline things such as communication between home and school, and assessment and reporting procedures.

Which famous actor would you love to invite into your class to read out loud to the children, and which book would it be?

Morgan Freeman. His voice carries a weight and warmth that really captivates listeners. His voice is also very calming as it has a certain reassuring quality to it that makes you feel at ease and relaxed. For my current Reception class I would choose “Where The Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak.

Do you think there should be more opportunities to teach outdoors in Cayman?

We are very lucky to have a beautiful and well-resourced outdoor classroom at St Ignatius. Outdoor learning enriches education in so many ways and is especially important in the world we live in today. Outdoor time allows children to disconnect from technology and reconnect with the natural world. It fosters an appreciation for the environment and offers diverse sensory experiences that stimulate cognitive development.

Who was your favourite teacher as a young child and why?

My Grandad Jig. He made me 'life smart'. He was kind, caring, loving, respectful, firm and fair. He was such an important influence in my life and I learnt so much from him. The values, morals and principles that he taught me helped to shape the person I am today. I am forever grateful to him.

Sue Horrocks

Sue Horrocks

Sue Horrocks is the Principal at Hope Academy.

What has been the best moment of your career so far?

There have been so many special moments. At least one per day! However, there was one stand-out moment involving a young boy who joined my class from a challenging inner-city neighbourhood in the United States. His self-esteem was pretty much non-existent. His way of avoiding work, for fear of failure, was to be disruptive and aggressive. Over time, with a lot of nurturing and reassurance, he found his niche. One day he confidently told me he wanted to be a scientist. I found it hard to hold back the tears.

What’s your best technique for grasping everyone’s attention in class?

I have a variety depending on the cohort. I do like a simple hand up to get everyone’s attention. It is calm and quiet and children tend to nudge each other if someone is not paying attention. That followed by lots of praise for those who catch on quickly. I have used it in staff meetings too!

What’s your favourite way to relax after a long day in the classroom?

I love to go home to my dogs and cat – the best welcome home every day! And music – playing, conducting or listening to music. I like to really listen though, rather than have it playing in the background.

Do you have any tips for parents who struggle to get their children to read at home?

Don’t battle or force it. You don’t want your child to have negative associations with reading. Remember, they will have had a busy day at school and are often tired. Instead, find a favourite book to read together – you read a page, they read a page, whatever works! Let them choose a picture book or comic too. We all need a variety of reading material – I don’t read Tolstoy before bed!