The Honourable Juliana O'Connor-Connolly, Minister for Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands (EYSAL), officially renamed the Savannah Primary School, the Joanna Clarke Primary School in honour of the late education stalwart, during a ceremony on the school's grounds on Tuesday afternoon (23 February).
Ms. Clarke served the Cayman Islands as an esteemed educator for almost fifty years, wearing several hats ranging from Savannah Primary School principal and Language Arts Curriculum Officer for primary and middle schools to Education Programme Coordinator for the Young Parents Programme. She was instrumental in reshaping the future of language arts teaching in primary schools, having introduced the Simon and Shuster Reading Scheme supported language arts curriculum. She also played a significant role in the initiation of Reading Week, the Annual Book Fair, the Annual Standardised Reading Test and Education Classes at the Department of Education Services.
Principal of the newly named Joanna Clarke Primary School, Mr. Delton Pedley, described the name change as a defining moment. "This name change is a defining moment for our school, community and our nation. It symbolises the Cayman Islands' recognition of a champion for education who has contributed invaluably towards the islands' development."
In her address, Minister for EYSAL Hon. Juliana O'Connor-Connolly reminded the audience of Ms. Clarke's rich legacy. "Ms. Clarke has gone to rest, but her memory remains etched in ours forever. We are so much better off as a nation, having been the beneficiaries and recipients of a selfless, Christian, pious, Godly lady who made a difference across the gender-spectrum. May our tribute be lasting and infinite as we try to mirror her characteristics," said Minister O'Connor-Connolly.
Ms. Clarke's niece, Ms. Judith Witter, thanked the Cayman Islands Government and people for acknowledging her late aunt's contributions to education. "It is a great honour to know that the school has been renamed after my aunt. The sixteen years that Ms. Clarke led this school were unequivocally the highlight of her long teaching career. Thank you, Cayman Islands, for welcoming my aunt to your shores many years ago, embracing her and recognising her selfless sacrifice of love and service to your children. Our family is grateful for this memorable and prestigious recognition bestowed upon her, and we are thrilled that her legacy will live on at a place that occupied so much of her heart."
The event was attended by family, friends and past students of the late Joanna Clarke, students and staff of the Savannah Primary School, staff of MEYSAL and DES, and several high-ranking government ministers and officials. Notably in attendance were His Excellency Governor Martyn Roper, the Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin, Parliamentary Secretary Ms. Barbara Conolly, Acting Chief Officer of MEYSAL, Lyneth Monteith and Acting Director of DES, Tammy Hopkins.