Golden Apples honour teachers

| 03/06/2018
CNS Local Life

Lifetime Achievement Award winner Nimmi Sekhar with presenter Paul Byles

(CNS Local Life): A dozen influential teachers were recognised for their outstanding contributions to the Cayman Islands’ education system at the 2018 Golden Apple Awards held Saturday, 26 May. Almost 200 people attended the ceremony, including business and community leaders, and government representatives, to support teachers from local public and private schools.

The first award of the evening was presented to Shakeina Bush of Sir John A. Cumber Primary School. Heather Thompson of the Lighthouse School was the other finalist for primary teacher in a public school. “This is extremely an honour, so first of all I thank God for making this possible,” said Bush.

“I hope, as I stand here tonight, I inspire young Caymanians who are unsure about being a teacher in the future. If it’s your calling, the calling of your heart, go for it.”

Next, Emily Garvey of St Ignatius Catholic School was presented the Golden Apple for primary school teacher in a private school. Asynthia Lewis of First Baptist Christian School was the other finalist. Calling the award “an incredible honour”, Garvey said, “My students are incredible, just as all students are. Their love of learning, their happiness, and their resilience is really important to me as a teacher. It’s not just about academic success, it’s about them knowing in their hearts and their minds that, no matter what life throws at them, they have that resilience and that confidence to succeed.”

The award for high school teacher in a public school was presented to Patrice Douglas-Hanson of John Gray ahead of Denise Henry-Colquhoon of Clifton Hunter. In accepting her award, Douglas-Hanson told the audience, “I’ve always said that teaching, for me, started out as an accident. Reflecting on my journey in teaching has given me reason to believe that my place in the classroom has been anything but accidental. I’ve met some fantastic students and worked with some terrific people along the way.

“I am pleased to be selected for this Golden Apple Award. However, tonight is not about me, neither is it about the 11 other finalists. Rather, it is about celebrating all teachers on these islands and recognising the important role they play in shaping the future of our children.”

Coaine Richards of St Ignatius Catholic School was then awarded the Golden Apple for high school teacher in a private school. The second finalist was Bill LaMonte of Cayman International School.

“This is a huge honour…I never thought I’d be here accepting this award,” said Richards. “I take great pride in knowing I have chosen the right profession because every day I enter the classroom I have an opportunity to make a difference in this world through the next generation.”

CNS Local Life

(L-R) Marcia Rennie receives her Golden Apple from Education Councillor Barbara Conolly

The penultimate award of the evening, for principal in a public or private school, was presented to Marcia Rennie of Edna M. Moyle Primary School, with Mable Richardson of Triple C High School and April Tibbetts of West End Primary School also honoured as finalists.

After thanking the ministry and the Chamber of Commerce, Rennie said, on receiving her award, “One of the questions I was asked on my interview was ‘What would you tell someone going into teaching?’ I said I’d tell them it wasn’t an easy job. I’d tell them it was often a thankless job. But I’d tell them it was always a rewarding one.”

The final award of the evening recognised Nimmi Sekhar for her 33-year-long career in the world of education, presented by Paul Byles, president of the Chamber of Commerce.

“Most of us cannot wait to escape the classroom as we get older, but this individual has been a staple of it, enriching the lives of hundreds of students over her decades-long career,” he said.

Sekhar, vice principal of early childhood and elementary at Cayman International School, who was given a standing ovation as she accepted the award, first thanked the ministry and the chamber, then added, “My proudest moments were usually at graduation time. When I see the graduates with their diplomas in their hands, some of them I have known them grown from nursery students to graduates, and to think I had a small part to play in their success and achievements.

“This award is wonderful, and I thank you all for it. But what is more wonderful is the school that I helped start is going to grow and continue to help and care for kids. I feel very privileged to have been a part of the school, and the excellent school community that we have in the Cayman Islands.”

“I consider this recognition and this honour as a jewel in the crown of my professional life.”

Byles concluded the ceremony by showing the audience a card he had recently received from his high school Spanish teacher, Marjorie Ebanks, who taught him when he was 12 years old. The 2009 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Ebanks had written to Byles to congratulate him on his election as chamber president at the 2017 annual general meeting.

He said Ebanks’ actions were testament to the fact that teachers’ concerns for the wellbeing of their students extend far beyond the classroom. The crowd responded with a standing ovation in honour of Ebanks and all of the teachers in the Cayman Islands.

The chamber reinstated the Golden Apple Awards this year after holding the previously annual ceremony from 2007-2013.

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Category: Education

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