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Cayman Parent | Articles | Uncategorised | Q & A | Cayman’s Dedicated Teachers | 2020

Q & A | Cayman’s Dedicated Teachers | 2020

Julia Martins

Julia teaches middle and high school students at High Achievement Academy.

Which children’s book would you most recommend?
I would recommend The Little Prince, both for children and later in life. It is a unique mix of parable, allegory and fable all in one. Younger readers should read it with an adult to fully capture the many beautiful messages, such as: relationships make life worth living, time spent on something makes it precious, take care of the planet and look up at the stars!

If you could choose three famous authors to tutor the kids at HAA for one week who would they be?
Shel Silverstein to teach an appreciation of poetry that uses youthful experiences (the good, the bad and the awkward), humour and an unorthodox style; Maya Angelou to teach compassionate, honest writing that comes from the heart; Roald Dahl to inspire exceptional creativity.

Have you seen an increase in the number of children needing extra tuition?
I do not believe there has necessarily been an increase in the need for extra tuition, but rather that tutoring has become much more accepted. Students and parents now look at tutoring as a positive type of support. Often tutoring is about building confidence; once a student has that, their success soars.

What is your greatest concern for future generations?
I hope that future generations will play less video games, spend less time on social media and find inspiration in the world that surrounds them.

What do you find most rewarding about being a teacher?
I love teaching. I can have the worst personal day ever and, as soon as I enter the classroom, my problems are gone and the students become my world. After that, I find the most rewarding moments to be when a student ‘lights up’; when you know that have just understood a concept they were struggling with − there is nothing better.

Kourtni Jackson

Kourtni is the Co-Principal of Montessori By The Sea, a school she co-founded almost 20 years ago.


What led you to work in a Montessori school?
I absolutely love children, so naturally (and thankfully!) I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a teacher. When I came back to Cayman from college, I worked at a traditional preschool and realised early on that it was not a good fit for me and my educational philosophy. After having my first child, I went to work at a Montessori school and it was life-changing!

What are the benefits of a Montessori education?
Too many to list! I appreciate that the philosophy is holistic, focusing on the total development of the child, and not just academics. I also love that the Montessori philosophy is child-centred and that the child doesn’t have to be ‘stuck’ in the curriculum of a particular grade level.

What is your greatest concern for future generations?
The environment. We only have one planet on which to live and it’s very concerning to see the changes I read about as a child becoming a reality. It is our duty to educate the youth on the importance of conservation, letting them know they have a voice and empowering them to make changes.

If you were asked to volunteer as a teacher in a developing country, where would you choose?
I would want to go to one of the many countries where it is difficult for girls to get an education. It would be my hope to be a role model for them and empower them, giving them tools and hope for a brighter future.

What has been your proudest moment at MBTS?
It’s indescribable how proud I am of MBTS! My partner, Debbie Thompson, and I started the school almost 20 years ago, and it has been amazing watching the growth of the students. This year, our first group of alumni graduated from university; to see them as these amazing, confident young adults who still hold MBTS and its values dear to them is very special.

Patrice Hanson

Patrice is a Golden Apple Award-winning teacher at John Gray High School.


Which book you would recommend to all teenagers?
Every teenager should read Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul. It covers a gamut of issues such as friendships, family relationships, love, drugs, mental health, etc. The novel inspires readers to be the best they can be, using the resources they have.

What is your greatest concern for future generations?
I believe that many students in Cayman do not avail themselves of the opportunities they have. Too many are comfortable with settling when there is so much more for them to aspire to: many end up not realising their full potential. It breaks my heart to see them being comfortable with mediocrity when they are capable of achieving excellence.

What do you find most rewarding about teaching?
Touching lives in remarkable ways. The touch can be helping a child move from one level to another academically or helping them improve their outlook on life or even attempting something they would ordinarily shy away from. It really is just helping the child advance to a better understanding of themselves and working towards being better than he/she was yesterday, not necessarily better than someone else. The challenge for every teacher is to provide an inspirational impact for every child you come across in the small amount of time that you have them.

Do you think teaching methods need to be adapted to keep the current generation engaged?
In the 21st century, children are bombarded with multi-sensory sources in their daily interactions. The classroom should not be place where life as they ordinarily experience it is put on hold. This is likely to cause disengagement. The challenge, therefore, is for teachers to move with the times and provide students with learning experiences that are rigorous but relevant to their lives. This requires significant integration of technology in lessons and opportunities for learners to collaborate as they engage in the creation of digital products.

Vanessa Foster

Vanessa teaches Grade 2 at Cayman International School.

Which children’s book would you most recommend?
I would recommend all children read The BFG, my favourite Roald Dahl book. It inspires courage, open-mindedness, acceptance of others’ differences and teaches the lesson that no matter your age (or size!) you can make a positive impact on your world if you believe in yourself and put your mind to it.

If you could take your class to any city in the world, where would you choose?
I would take them to Rome, my hometown and perhaps one of the most incredible cities on our planet! Rome is unique in its history and culture (and food!), and it is the perfect place for students to learn and develop an appreciation of how places, people and their practices evolve over time.

Which famous people would you choose to join your class for a day?
Conservationist Jane Goodall and climate change activist Greta Thunberg; they are both inspirations to all children (and adults!) wanting to make a positive imprint on our planet.

What is your greatest concern for future generations?
I am continually in awe of developments in technology; however, I fear that human relationships are at risk of deteriorating, with decreased opportunity for social interaction and, consequently, fewer opportunities to practice kindness, empathy, collaboration and general mindfulness.

What do you enjoy the most about teaching second grade?
The second grade is an immensely fun and rewarding grade level to teach. The students have to work hard to step-up their learning, but get to enjoy an extensive range of new opportunities. Among other experiences this year, my students raised awareness and funds to adopt and tag a Caribbean reef shark and helped tag and release an endangered green sea turtle!

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