By Christopher Tobutt
Prospect Primary celebrated the retirement of one of the most influential educators Cayman has ever had. Mrs Gloria Bell touched the lives of thousands of children, not just through the 12 years she spent as Prospect’s beloved principal from 2006 to 20014, as well as through her contribution to teacher training and literacy throughout the Island before going to Prospect, and her work as Senior Schools’ Improvement Officer with the Department of Education after leaving Prospect.
All the children were there to give her a great retirement send off, and a steel pan band was up onstage adding its joyful music to the celebrations. Lots of people came onstage to pay tribute to her endless dedication, encouragement and support, not just to children, but to parents and teachers too.
Prospect MP Hon. Sabrina Turner said, “You will never ever imagine the impact you have had moving forward and it is my honor on behalf of the people of prospect and me personally, to thank you for your service and enjoy life. This is an example of true leadership through nation-building.
Born in Trinidad And Tobago in the Fishing Village of Carenage, Mrs. Bell attended a teachers’ college between 1976 and 1978 where she received a teacher’s diploma. The challenges in children’s reading she encountered while teaching in primary schools there motivated her to gain a certificate in the teaching of literacy.
In 1991 Mrs Bell secured a teaching position in the Cayman Islands as Language Arts Teacher in the Alternative Education Programme. In 1994 she became Deputy Principal at East End Primary, and in 1997 she became Language Arts Education Officer, helping to establish the Inter Primary Spelling Bee competitions, the Annual Book Fair, and the Cayman Islands Reading Association. In 2006 she became Principal for Prospect Primary School from 2006 to 2014.
Believing in the development of the whole Child, Mrs. Bell is remembered for many initiatives at PPS, including the Annual Student Christmas Luncheon, the PPS steel band, violin club, Cooking Club, photography club, Arts & Crafts club, and AAA – afterschool Academic Acceleration Club.
Mrs. Bell has gained many awards including Cayman Islands Civil Servant of the Year, 2000, and the 2008 Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching as a school principal
There were a great many tributes by past pupils by video, many of whom are now university students, business leaders and entrepreneurs. Devonte Howell attended Prospect Primary School from 2009 to 2016: “I had the privilege of Ms Bell being my Principal for four of the six years I spent at the Best School in the whole wide world. Mrs Bell was a very strict, yet Caring and loving principal, and I’ll never forget the support and motivation she gave many other students and me at Prospect Primary,” he said.
Victor Hemans presented an award on behalf of the Specialist Music Teachers. “We are so thankful of the things you have done for us, and your inspiration for us,” he said.
There was also a presentation from President of the Prospect PTA, Dave Howell, who expressed the hope that the school would shortly be renamed in Mrs. Bell’s honor.
“Good memories have been brought back, and as I stand here I am humbled by the outpouring of appreciation that has been demonstrated today,” Mrs. Bell said. “It is certainly an honor to be recognized for one’s contributions, and to be able to smell the roses, and hear the tributes while you’re alive. Thanks to Almighty God for giving me this rare opportunity. This celebration is not about Gloria Bell alone, but this group of teachers.”
Everyone made their way to the school entrance, where a special plaque dedicated to Mrs Bell was unveiled