Friends, readers, and residents of the Cayman Islands, welcome to the Cayman Current.
The Current is a nonprofit with the mission of improving education in Cayman through public service journalism.
Please allow me to introduce myself, and more importantly, the Current and its purpose.
My name is Patrick Brendel. I have been a journalist in Cayman since 2011.
In the future, you actually won’t be hearing from me in the first person that often. Consider this the inaugural post in an occasional series where I step out from behind the curtain to explain what’s happening in the organisation, and to make announcements about the Current.
And the first announcement I have to make is that, as of Tuesday, 1 Sept., the Current is officially operational. Starting from today, the Current is a full-time news organisation shining a spotlight on educational issues in Cayman.
While today is the official launch, a team of people, including myself, have invested significant numbers of hours over the past several months to get us to this point.
Let me rewind a bit.
In March 2020, I was pursuing an entirely different publishing project. And then, Covid-19 came to Cayman. The country shut down, and those plans evaporated.
All of a sudden, my wife and I were both at home, along with our four children, ages 2-11. While she continued to work from a laptop at a desk in the corner of the living room, I was designated the family’s Supervisor of Virtual Learning. (‘Super’ may be an exaggeration.)
Instantly, I was participating in the education of my children like never before. I was made acutely aware of what they were doing in school, what they weren’t, and their respective strengths and weaknesses. In other words, I found myself in the same situation as thousands of parents in Cayman.
I would argue that beginning this spring and summer, parents in Cayman have had unprecedented involvement in their children’s education, and they now know — because they have personally experienced radical disruption — that there are a multiplicity of ways to deliver education beyond the brick-and-mortar buildings that formerly represented ‘School’.
Meanwhile, technological and economic pressures are presenting formidable challenges to the field of journalism. Unfortunately, the local news media have been in an extended phase of contraction, limiting the resources required to cover important but complex subjects such as education.
Suddenly, what needed to be done seemed obvious: Establish a public service journalism organisation focussed entirely on the topic of education in Cayman.
It also seemed obvious that, for such a publication to be viable, it would need to be digital, and it would need to be nonprofit.
Appeals were sent out to local leaders, outlining how the Current aims to improve the education system by informing, engaging and empowering the community to articulate their needs and to take action to achieve those results.
The level of response has been inspiring, in terms of organisations stepping up to provide funding and individuals raising their hands to volunteer their support.
I want to give particular recognition to the Current’s first two Founding Sponsors: Aon Cayman and Broadhurst LLC. It takes vision and courage to publicly support a mission-centred organisation, even more so when it is a new journalism venture, and especially when that support is pledged before a single word has been published. You have my gratitude, and I hope someday soon the community’s as well.
I think it is important to note that the Current is an independent, nonpolitical and nonprofit organisation. Right now I am the sole director of the Current. If that ever changes, the community will be notified through an announcement on this website.
The Current is a community organisation — it is not a personal megaphone for any single group or individual, including myself. I will not publish my own opinion column, nor will we have anonymous, newspaper-style institutional editorials.
We will, however, seek out and extensively feature viewpoints and perspectives on education from people throughout the community. If you have something to say about education, please join the conversation.
Of course, expect from the Current a steady diet of education news and updates, regularly punctuated by original and in-depth journalism. The Current will also be a resource for information with a longer shelf life. For example, today we have published a Cayman Islands Scholarships Directory that will be updated and added onto as we get information from scholarship sponsors. (If you belong to a group that offers a scholarship, and you don’t see it in the directory, please contact me.)
I could go on and on about the Current’s plans.
But those plans will never become reality without the community’s support. Why not start with you? If you want to get involved, begin by ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ our content on social media, and sign up to receive Current news. Contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org or 326-5064) if you want to submit a viewpoint, have a story tip, wish to volunteer or are interested in making a donation. Please, my email inbox and phone line are open.
For me, like a lot of you, education isn’t just an academic issue. It’s very personal. Whether your children attend public school or private school, the decisions we make today will impact the quality of education they receive, and the perception of the skills and talents they possess.
I hope today is looked back on as an important day in Cayman. Not because it marks the launch of the Current as an organisation, but because it will be remembered as when we began to rally as a cohesive community, and together to seek improvements to our country’s education system, for the betterment of Cayman’s children and future generations.