Principals and 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.


Karl Murphy

Karl Murphy is the High School Principal at Cayman Prep & High School (CPHS). He was previously principal at a school in Jordan and was invited by His Majesty King Abdullah II to guide an educational think tank at the Zaatari refugee camp.

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

It is encouraging to note how individualised learning has overtaken delivery to whole student classes. Prudent data is at the heart of individualised learning and prior knowledge of learning styles facilitate far more successful learning outcomes.

Would you encourage school leavers to take a year out/gap year or go straight to university?

I think it’s very much up the individual. However, as I look back on my own career, and with reference to the augmented pressures to modern living, I believe that there are valid reasons for a gap year before further studies. One of the biggest perks is having time to decide what to do next, rather than having to rush to a decision. There’s no doubt that going to university forces you to grow up in some ways, especially if you move away from Cayman, but taking a gap year may encourage decisions in an entirely new way.

What’s the best piece of advice you would give older students?

There is no timeframe for learning. It is important to see learning as a joyful fact of life and strive to keep learning to stay healthy and to be wise. For high school students, I would advise to value these halcyon days as they are precious and all too fleeting.

When did you decide to become a high school teacher or work in education and why?

I am from a big Irish Catholic family. Teaching, nursing, priesthood and joining the police force were all seen as natural career choices. I chose teaching and have never regretted that decision.

Dean Brown Richmond

Dean Brown-Richmond

Dean Brown-Richmond has been teaching English for over 21 years and is currently the Literacy Coordinator at Clifton Hunter High School, where she also serves as Officer Commanding the CHHS Cadet detachment.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

I had concerns about a set of students that I had in one secondary school year group. They were at different levels of achievement in the class and the gaps were so wide that I decided to collaborate and write a series of social studies workbooks to help students and parents use content area reading to bridge those gaps. The project was such a success that many of those students went on to succeed on their exit exams and the books received such good reviews that most secondary schools in Jamaica began using them – one popular publishing company offered to pair their textbooks with our workbooks because of the demand.

Who is your favourite author and why?

One of my favourite authors is Jim Rohn, particularly one of his first books, Twelve Pillars. I will challenge everyone to read this book and then tell me if this isn’t one of the best books they have ever read. He has a way of telling stories with real-life application, transforming you from thought, to positive sustainable action.

Why did you choose literacy as a field of specialty?

I entered this field as a means of finding and providing additional support for my students who were struggling with reading and writing at the secondary level. I know when literacy skills are weak, all the other subjects will be challenging for the student. I wanted to be able to effectively provide early intervention to close those literacy gaps quickly.

Which book would you recommend to all children?

Wonder by R. J. Palacio. This is a moving and uplifting novel that is written from the perspectives of various characters in the text, including the main character, whose extraordinary journey helps to teach empathy, compassion, and kindness. It also demonstrates that you don’t need to blend in when you were born to stand out.


Patricia Forbes

Patricia Forbes has taught Business Studies at John Gray High School since 1987 and was appointed Deputy Principal in 2015.

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

Teaching was quite didactic but now more differentiation is being offered; less chalk and talk and more interactive teaching. Technology has definitely had a positive impact on the evolution of teaching.

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

Ms Lyneth Monteith, who has always had high expectations of colleagues and has been very encouraging.

Which famous author would you invite to entertain your class?

Michelle Obama, Attorney and former First Lady of the United States of America.

Do you have any tips for parents who struggle to get their teenagers to study for exams?

Spend time with them preparing them for exams. Create a study area for them and remove distractions, e.g. limit social media use. Ensure they get enough sleep. Let them know that you love them and remind them of the value of an education.

Which of your own teachers inspired you the most and why?

The late Sister Wilma Moffitt, first Principal of Truth for Youth School, had educational goals set for each student and was a very religious, empathetic person.

What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?

Entering approximately 20 students for an exam with most of them predicted to get Grade E but we entered them with high expectations to get Grade C and most of them achieved Grade C or higher. There was lot of formative feedback given to the students to ensure success.

Jim Urquhart

Jim Urquhart

Jim Urquhart is the Director of Cayman International School, which was awarded ‘Excellent’ in its 2022 school inspection report.

What’s the best advice you would give older students?

Be kind, be calm, be alert. Habits cultivated now around health, relationships, spending, learning and peace of mind may serve you well in the present and the future, provided they are good habits. Comparing yourself to others can be the enemy of joy – there will always be people faster, stronger, smarter etc. yet there is only one you. Be the best you, you can be. Take the time to put your device down and go outside to move, breathe, and laugh. Say hello and good morning to people

Who is your favourite author and why?

Malcolm Gladwell. I appreciate how he intertwines a story with a mixture of research, observation and subtle humour.

Have you seen an increase in anxiety amongst teenagers since the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, and this was happening prior to the COVID-19 pandemic too. Aside from the pandemic, various levels of addiction to social media, play deficit disorder and over-scheduled time are just a few of the concomitant factors likely contributing to observed anxiousness. Perhaps similarly acute in this regard is the level of anxiety observed in parents and guardians – thus exacerbating the sense of anxiety in some teenagers.

CIS was recently awarded ‘Excellent’ in a school inspection report. What were the main reasons the school achieved this grade and what would your advice be to other schools wanting to reach the same level of success?

A key aspect to school improvement is the interactions between people. Learning tends to be a social endeavour. People are often the driving reason that the vast majority of those in education choose education as their calling. Spending extra time on finding the best staff possible is always time well spent. This is often colloquially referred to as 'getting the right people on the bus'. After that, time, training and patience are needed to get 'the people you have in the right seat on the bus'.