Island Primary is Cayman’s newest school which opened this academic school year, catering to students from Reception to Year 6. Jenn Cowdroy, the school’s Director, said the shortage of quality primary school spaces in Cayman was the motivation for opening the school.
“We wanted to help on that front,” she confirmed, “but also use the opportunity to build a school that was rooted in our culture and sense of community.”
She said the school’s stated purpose sums us up its ethos quite well: “To provide a dynamic learning community committed to actively engaging with, and contributing to, an ever-changing and diverse local and global society.”
Ms Cowdroy said from the design and layout to the staffing and materials, everything was thought out to ensure that they stayed true to this ethos.
“Building a school isn’t like building a corporate office or a house, as a great deal of planning goes into not only how our staff and specialists use the spaces, but also our students and their families use the spaces,” she advised. “Ensuring we had plenty of room, with all natural grass fields and an abundance of trees that will soon provide a beautiful canopy, was key to the design, but at the same time ensuring we stayed connected with each other. This was the basis for designing the school around a central courtyard that is essentially the ‘heart’ of our school.”
“Our school is built around nature and community, providing the perfect platform to spring from,” she advised.
Ms Cowdroy’s background is in finance and operations, which, she said, surprised people when they learn she is not a teacher.
“However, throughout my 30 years in Cayman holding positions in multi-national firms as a financial controller and operations director, one of the key lessons I learned was that a successful business requires a team of people who individually are strong, but together create a synergy that encapsulates the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts,” she said. “I know my own strengths, and limitations, and I was fortunate to build a team of specialists in education, and through the last year it’s been a fantastic learning experience for us all as we gained insight into the myriad of requirements, issues and ideas that come with undertaking this project.”
Ms Cowdroy said that they had received a fantastic response from parents already.
“I dare say some are shocked we made it happen in time,” she said. “It was by all accounts a pretty aggressive timeline, and I think, many just couldn’t believe we’d be open in time. We have spaces available in our Reception and Years 1-3 classes, with our Years 4, 5 and 6 classes full for the year, although more spaces will open next year for those year groups.”
The school currently has two classes per year group and they are currently in discussions with another school which has started the planning process to move in next to them and which will provide their students with a high school.
“I’m not yet at liberty to announce the school, but we hope to within weeks,” she stated.
Ms Cowdroy admitted it had been “an incredible two years.”
“Along the way, there has been a fair share of highs and lows, but with every day, it provided an opportunity to find solutions to every hiccup, and welcome moments to celebrate every milestone, and we are so happy to have shifted from building to teaching,” she confirmed.