Public/private partnership helps promote high tech learning

Recent altruistic efforts by Campbells Attorneys-at-law have resulted in a considerable improvement in the facilities at John Gray High School enabling teachers to communicate better with students with a corresponding improvement in students’ ability to learn. Business Editor Lindsey Turnbull reports.
 
Although new and phenomenally improved schools are on the cards for Cayman’s public schools students currently within the public school system are still required to make do with less than ideal facilities. Thus any input from the private sector to assist in improving a government school child’s lot is welcomed with open arms by teachers, students and the government alike.
 
This year Campbells law firm celebrates its 40th anniversary, a milestone that the partners and staff decided ought to be properly marked with a donation back to the community. Their donation took the form of 36 overhead projectors for teachers in the government high schools as well as extra memory for computers in the Support Unit, so that the unit’s computers would have enough capacity to download much-needed computer-assisted learning software.
 
Managing Partner, Alistair Walters comments:
 
“This is a very significant 40th anniversary for Campbells and we wanted to find a specific educational community project for the year that we could assist with. The High Schools quickly identified the need for projectors and the upgrade to their computers as being a priority. We see education as being a critical element to the success of future generations and the continued success of the Cayman Islands and are very pleased to have been able to provide our support. It is particularly significant for us to be able to see first hand the difference that our donation has made to the students and their teachers. Far too often monetary donations are made to good causes but the true value of the donation is not appreciated.”
 
Campbells partners Alistair Walters, Ross McDonough and John Wolf and William Chisholm, Managing Director of Campbell Corporate Services Ltd recently joined Education Minister Rolston Anglin, JGHS Principal Aldin Bellafanti and Acting VP Glenn Whewell for a tour of the High School to see how the projectors and computer memory were being put to good use straight away.
 
Glenn Whewell confirms: “All the projectors are in use and are making a vast difference to how teachers can present course work to the students. The staff have been bowled over by the improvement to their facilities. The overhead projectors are compatible with the school’s lap top computers so teachers can access online resources (the school is a Wi Fi zone) and project them successfully to the entire class. They are also highly portable so will be installed in the new public schools eventually.”
 
The tour began at John Gray High School with a look at how English teacher Ms Wendy Maxwell was incorporating the overhead projectors into her teaching.
 
“The picture quality is excellent. We do not need to dim the lights for students to see the screen and it gives me the added flexibility to remain with the students rather than stand with my back to them, writing on a board,” she explained. “It’s made a big difference to the students.”
 
Next stop was to the ESL class (English as a second language). The lesson was in full flow with students following examples of spoken English on the screen, as well as audibly.
 
“The fact that it is such a visual method of learning is particularly appealing to my students,” ESL teacher Ms Renate Dowell explains.
 
Lastly, the tour stopped at the Support Unit, where students with average or above average intelligence who face learning challenges receive specialised teaching. An appreciation was gleaned as to just how big an impact the Campbells donation of computer memory had made to the students.
 
Ms Elaine King, Head of Department, says:
 
“The memory has enabled us to download software such as BBC Bitesize for our Read/Write Gold programme. Such programmes help students convert text to sound, which dramatically assists those with learning difficulties absorb information more easily. Eventually the eight computers now functioning at this level will be trained to respond to students’ voices, which will allow them to convert their verbal commands into written assignments.”
 
Ms King furthers that interactive education games can be downloaded and students can be tested to see how much they have learnt.
 
“We can teach subjects across the board – Maths, English, Science, etc, in this manner.”
 
In a letter to the Campbells partners, Ms King outlined just how important the donation was to the School:
 
“The technology project you have undertaken at JGHS, projectors and memory will indeed make a difference to the teaching and learning that goes on here every day at this school. This is especially true, in this case, for students with special needs.”
 
Mr. Whewell echoed Ms King’s sentiments and thanked the partners wholeheartedly for their support.
 
Education Minister Rolston Anglin said that any enhancement such as the Campbells donation that the government does not have to take up themselves reaps many benefits for the community.
 
“I believe that partnering with the private sector in such a way is a key way forward for us,” he said. “I also believe that when a donation such as this is received it is used with even greater pride because students and teachers are grateful that people such as those at Campbells have gone out of their way to become involved with the community.”
 
The Minister went on to say that historically the public education system has been operated as something of an enclave, an entity which should not have any interaction with society.    
 
“This type pf relationship helps connect the school with the outside world and this is an important step forward for Cayman,” he confirmed.
 
Mr Whewell confirms that JGHS is now searching for a Mac laptop for a very able music technology student who needs one to progress. Mr Whewell says the student has real talent in this field but needs the appropriate laptop. Contact Glenn Whewell at John Gray High School GWhewell@jghs.edu.ky if you can help.

Public-privateSM

L-r: JGHS Acting VP Glenn Whewell; Campbells Partner Alistair Walters; Education Minister Rolston Anglin; Campbells Corporate Services MD William Chisholm; JGHS Principal Aldin Bellafanti; Campbells Partners Ross McDonough and John Wolf

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