1 Aug. 2021
Weekly Current (archived version)
Good news everyone: We’ve hired a staff journalist, and we’re planning a mini-documentary series on TVET/STEM education! Discussion on the COVID-19 lockdown’s impact on children and the importance of mentorship. Update on Red Bay Primary investigation.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
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Week In Review
This week we’re pleased to make two important, and related, announcements.
The first is that the Cayman Current has hired multimedia journalist Kayla Young as our first staff journalist.
We trust many of you are already familiar with Kayla’s name through her work in print and online in the Cayman Islands over the past 5 years.
In addition to Cayman, Kayla has worked in Chile and the United States. She moved to Grand Cayman in 2016 to accept a job at the Cayman Compass newspaper. Kayla is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin.
***Editor’s Note: This is the second time that I’ve been fortunate enough to hire Kayla. The first time was when I was responsible for newsroom recruitment at the Compass. Back then, Kayla’s resume stood out from scores of applications from across the world. In the past 5 years, as she has grown closer to the Cayman community and further developed her technical and reportorial skills, and importantly her local knowledge, her professional credentials have only become more impressive. I’m expecting Kayla to make a massive impact for the Current, and by extension on our mission to improve education in Cayman through our public service journalism. Cheers, cheers!***
Our second announcement is that the Current is embarking on our first in-depth multimedia enterprise journalism project.
Our plan is to create a 6-part mini-documentary video series on TVET and STEM education, which together we informally call ‘practical education’.
The series will explore 3 fundamental questions:
- Are careers in TVET/STEM fields really where future opportunities are for Caymanians?
- Are there sufficient opportunities for TVET/STEM education for Caymanians?
- Given Cayman’s long history of ‘practical vocations’ such as farming, seamanship and construction, is there currently a stigma against TVET in favour of supposedly more ‘academic’ career paths?
We’ve secured basic funding for the project through the generosity of a local donor, and we are engaged in discussions with other supporters to further enhance the quality and reach of the project. When sponsorship agreements are official, we’ll provide details on the sources of funding. (If you’re interested in supporting the TVET/STEM project, please email email@example.com.)
We like to think that our newsletter readers are smarter than the average bear, so we assume most of you have already put 2 and 2 together and deduced that our new multimedia journalist Kayla will be spearheading our new multimedia journalism project. That’s correct. The TVET/STEM project will be her primary responsibility in her role at the Current.
However, it’s not the only journalism Kayla will be producing. She’s also working on a regional, collaborative climate change project with the Center for Investigative Journalism in Puerto Rico (‘CPI’ in Spanish).
CPI is providing funding and editorial direction for the climate change project, while the Current has agreed to publish the investigation, along with other participating media in the Caribbean.
Stay tuned …
(Read our announcement of Kayla’s hiring and the TVET/STEM project here.)
Not coincidentally, our special guest on this week’s episode of EdBeat was none other than Kayla Young.
Kayla joined Cayman Current editor Patrick Brendel and Cayman Life TV founder April Cummings to talk a little bit about her background and to discuss the TVET/STEM series as well as the climate change project.
Additionally, during the show Patrick and April touch on other topics, such as evolving guidance in the U.S. on COVID-19, masks and school environments.
(Watch EdBeat: Episode Ten here.)
The COVID-19 shutdown has had a significant negative impact on vulnerable young people in the Cayman Islands. The consequences — manifesting as mental health issues, substance abuse, learning gaps, etc. — started becoming apparent immediately and are likely to reverberate for years to come.
The adverse effects of the pandemic and resulting economic pressures have highlighted the need for adults to step up and act as mentors and role models for Cayman’s children, panellists said during a Youth Mentoring Forum hosted by local nonprofit Big Brothers Big Sisters Cayman Islands.
The panellists — including Tara Nielsen of ARK, Paul Byles of Academy Sports Club, Jon Clark of John Gray High School, Shannon Seymour of The Wellness Centre, and Jason Jones of the Alex Panton Foundation — talked about how the pandemic has exacerbated social ills and financial inequalities that in Cayman are typically not seen … or at least, not often heard.
Many children from low-income households, or who are otherwise vulnerable, went for months during the COVID-19 lockdown without having access to external support systems, i.e. schools, sports clubs, etc. The absence of that support, combined with stresses caused by the ongoing economic fallout of the pandemic, has contributed to an increase in mental health issues and engagement in risky or undesirable activities.
Panellists highlighted the concomitant increase in need for adults to be visible models of good behaviour for young people, and to actively be there for them, whether that’s in the role as parent, coach, teacher or volunteer mentor.
(Read our story on Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Youth Mentoring Forum, and watch the video of the panel discussion, here.)
A quick update on Red Bay Primary School: Three months after law enforcement began looking into reports of alleged misconduct by staff toward students, the investigation “is still ongoing”.
Recall that the investigation by police and Department of Children and Family Services began in early May. Staff that had been reported to be involved in the allegations were “relocated from schools until the investigation is completed”. The 2020/2021 public school year ended 9 July.
Needless to say, we’ll continue to follow this until it’s resolved.
(Read our update on the Red Bay Primary investigation here.)
More from the Current
Around The Web
The Current is a central resource for education journalism by others, including regional and international news relevant to Cayman education. (Find our running collection of links here.)
- Miami Herald: CDC reverses course on K-12 mask guidelines, clashing with DeSantis’ plans for school
- Miami Herald: What does the CDC’s updated mask guidance mean for South Florida schools? What we know
- Duke Today: Research Finds Masks Can Prevent COVID-19 Transmission in Schools
- Miami Herald: Presidents of all 12 Florida state universities urge students to get vaccinated
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): West End school closure sparks anger
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Maths lecturer has the write stuff when it comes to Pi
- The Guardian (UK): Summer school catch-up classes insufficient, say heads and Labour
- The Guardian (UK): The Observer view on the plight facing children post-Covid
- The BVI Beacon: Officials: Ministry was aware of ESHS wall overruns
The Week Ahead
- EdBeat, Episode Eleven (to be shot from a special remote location)
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