Jamaican teacher to head high school

| 14/12/2009

Cayman Islands education news(CNS): Update Monday 10:30am — The Education Ministry has confirmed reports in the Jamaican press that a high school principal from that country has been seconded to the John Gray High School (JGHS) here in the Cayman Islands. The ministry has said that, effective 4 January, Aldin Bellinfantie will assume his role as the new principal of JGHS, and that he has been seconded from the Ministry of Education in Jamaica for an 18-month period. The Cayman Islands Education Ministry said in a release this morning (Monday 14 December) that Bellinfantie was appointed following a rigorous recruitment process undertaken by the Department of Education Services (DES).

The ministry says that he is a well-rounded educator with some thirty-one years of practical education experience. Currently the principal of Irwin High School in Montego Bay, Jamaica, he has also served as advisor to Jamaica’s Ministry of Education; as a high school mathematics teacher; and in London as a lecturer of mathematics, statistics, finance and economics.

He has published education-related books, papers and manuals, including: A Principal’s Tool Kit in participatory learning and Action Methods; Involving Parents and the Community in Schools – A training manual; A Guide to Educational/Business Partnership; and Supporting Partnerships in Children’s Education – A Training Manual for Community Volunteers.

As John Gray High School principal he will be responsible for the school’s professional leadership and management. “Mr. Bellinfantie’s responsibilities will include promoting a culture of high expectations, and ensuring high-quality education for all students at the school,” Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler explained.

Commenting on the secondment, Ministry of Education Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues said, “I am pleased that the recruitment process has yielded someone of Mr. Bellinfante’s calibre, and I am happy to welcome him to our education system. His experience in school improvement will be extremely valuable at this critical time for JGHS, and as we prepare for significant changes in the way we deliver secondary education in our government schools."

“His efforts at John Gray will align with, and complement, the policies and work of the DES and Ministry. These include raising educational standards and improving the quality of teaching and learning within our education system,” she added.

The Jamaica Observer reports that the request for Bellinfantie’s secondment was made by Rodrigues to her Jamaican counterpart and was formally approved Wednesday, 9 December.

The Cayman Islands Ministry of Education has recently announced that over the coming months the education system will undergo a number of major changes, including the transformation, to be implemented in September 2010, of the JGHS campus, currently a high school, and the George Hicks Campus, which is currently a middle school, into two “all-through” high schools, catering to students from Years 7- 11 (ages 11 to 16).

The ministry also said that innovative technical subjects available in the two schools on Grand Cayman will include a leisure and tourism option, which is specially designed and accredited for Caymanian students, as well as catering; music technology; and health and social care. These will be offered in addition to already well-established programmes in construction, electrical and electronics and motor vehicles, reflecting a renewed focus on national priorities and the needs of the labour market, the release says.

A mandatory 16+ “bridge year” for students who have completed their CXC/GCSE examinations will also be launched in 2010, the ministry said, and will include a variety of programmes for students at all levels, including technical and vocational options, foundation studies for students who want to improve their readiness for further studies, and will also provide the opportunity for retakes of exams.

The ministry will be introducing Advanced Placement (AP) for academically inclined students, through which they can earn college credit and significant advanced standing for US universities. The 16+ programme is also working towards accreditation for the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma programme, which, like AP, offers further academic courses and prepares university-bound students but encompasses a more holistic approach to education.

The ministry has said that the transformation to education will be implemented whether the new schools are built or not.

“Given the uncertainties, the group has the difficult task of planning for a range of scenarios: the delivery of one new high school, two new schools, or no schools at all,” Rodrigues explained. “With the Minister’s clear direction, the group is now focusing on the developments that will be rolled out for a September 2010 start, no matter what pertains in relation to the new buildings.”

See New options for 16+ students

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  1. Anonymous says:


  2. Twyla Vargas says:

    I take this as good news, having a Caribbean teacher head of Cayman Islands Hight School.  Lets give him our support.  Remember you dont fail until you stop trying.  Blessed

    • Dick Shaughneary says:

      Let’s hope that the new head doesn’t fail to teach our children to use apostrophes in contractions.

    • Anonymous says:

      Didn’t he just return to-or was recruited to- Jamaica as part of a program to get returning Jamaicans to help out JA? Or did I get that wrong?

  3. Watchman says:

    At last, a man…from the looks of it a good man who will not allow exposed cracks walking into his school. Good luck to him.

    • Anonymous says:

      A head of inner city schools is what we need.  From what I see, JGHS has now become nearly it not already a full-fledged inner city school with all its woes.

      And that is not an indictment of the education system — it is an indictment of our society. 

      I wish the gentleman a lot of luck and fortitude and hope that he does well.

      More than we know depends on his success.  Schools have a huge job of countering and curbing what our society has so nonchalantly cultivated.

    • Anonymous says:

      By the way — it was Jamaican teachers who educated the grandparents and greatgrandparents of today.

      They did a fantastic job — and let’s hope that the new man will have the fortitude to rise to the challenges posed by their grandchildren and great grandchildren!

      • Anonymous 1 says:

        Lest one forgets, many parents as well were educated by Jamaican teachers – and the same students went on to compete and excell internationally in several different fields!

      • Twyla Vargas says:

        You are correct about this 11:43.  and the Jamaican teachers did do a fantastic job.  In fact I can say  that my education was obtained by Jamaican teachers, here and in Jamaica. 

        They really dont joke around when it comes to teaching, and besides that we understand their language very good too.  The culture is almost the same, so we do have alot in common, and much to learn.  I do hope it will work out well.


        • Declan Shun says:

          If you say things like "we understand their language very good too" you are making a great case against the benefits of your education.  It is truly ghastly. 

          • Twyla Vargas says:

            06:55, NO I AM NOT, I believe in Culture.  English was one of the subjects I had the opportunity to pass during my examinations, after being taught by a Jamaican teacher;  Mr Bonner, also having the opportunity to further study and pass another English course at Sylvia Gill’s College. English Language and English Literature.

             At times I just choose to be me, Caymanian to the core,   I choose to write and speak the broken English like most Caymanians do,  I enjoy writing, reading, and speaking Spanish, because that too was one of my interest that I achieved.. 

            I really do not feel like I am making a great case against the benefits of my education, because I say " we understand their language good too".  No, and if we like it or not, the Jamaican broken English will always be integrated in our Caymanian talk, or what ever we want to call it..  

            To tell you the truth I feel more relaxed speaking my broken English to my friends and family,but when I have to Knock heads with the Dictionary Fat Heads, I can do that too. Blessed

            • Anonymous says:

              Learned is the man who appreciates his own culture (language included) and is able to speak and understand the culture of others (language included).  If ye are going to gain any success in teaching the children, then ye must first understand his mother-tongue and he too must also understand yours.  Then and only then shall ye begin to teach him the language of others.

              • Twyla Vargas says:

                09:48  I BELIEVE I can safely comment and say "Well spoken."  Reading your comments says it all, and to those who can understand, should think the same. Nuff said.

              • Anonymous says:

                It’s not a dialect and certainly not a "mother tongue". It’s how babies talk. "Me a want dis", "me  a want dat", "him soon come".

                There are plenty of well educated, well spoken Jamaicans (with wonderful, lyrical Jamaican accents) who don’t choose to speak like this. If someone doesn’t know any better tthen that’s sad and educational improvements will help.  But people who choose to talk like this are simply perpetuating the false notion that West Indians are under educated.

            • Bad example says:

              Broken English or, as everyone else calls it a dialect, is the local spoken form of a language.  But no-one every writes in that style in normal communications.  It may be seen in poetry, music and local interest columns of newspapers perhaps but nowhere else.  The children of Cayman have chronic literacy problems which hinder their employment prospects.  Your attempts to trumpet a written form of communication barely intelligible to the majority of the population let alone anywhere else is doing more harm than good. 

              • Anon says:

                Who are you to judge?  I am appalled by the arrogance of your post. 

                As en Ex Pat who has lived amongst Caribbeans all my life, including  high-flying lawyers, accountants, doctors and authors and I can tell you that it is very common indeed, to write in forums, emails, journals, blogs, diaries, and many communications in patois (oh sorry, according to you everyone else calls it a dialect).  Only when formality requires is it necessary to use proper English. 

                I have no problems reading/listening and understanding patois but others like yourself seem to leap on every opportunity to try and castigate folk for the way they spell just because you don’t like/can’t understand it yourself. 

      • Anonymous says:

        They did a "fantastic job"?  Really?

  4. Heavy Cake says:

    The job was advertised well into Sept.

  5. Anonymouse says:

    Wait, aren’t government hirings suposed to be done after advertising the post, not by Perm Secs calling their friends to ask if they can send someone over?

    • Anonymous says:

       Typically ignorant malicious comment from someone trying to stir things up rather than display any actual knowledge…. or checking facts. All it does is show themselves up  – not that they would notice

      The post of Principal was advertised a lot, not just here bit also throughout the region as well as in England and other countries.


    • anonymous says:

      You have no idea what you are talking about. The press have the details of the appointment completely wrong but please don’t let the facts get in the way of an anti establishment  dig.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Probably better if they weren’t – then you run the risk of an embittered failure claiming to be suitably qualified when they obviously aren’t and holding up the recruitment process for months.

  6. Hanson says:



    If there is no "Caymanian" to do it, get someone else local!


  7. Anonymous says:

    A bit more about the newhead of JGHS. http://www.iom.int/unitedstates/Newsletter/NLJAmaicaRQN.htm

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for sharing this article. I do not believe that the Education Portfolio has yet informed the public of the validity of the story regarding this gentleman’s appointment as principal of the JGHS but based on what I have read here it seems that he has something to offer our students. I was taught in school by a wonderful Jamaican teacher, the late Ms Hilma Stephenson-McField, and I shall always be grateful to her for her caring spirit and kind yet strict manner. We have been blessed with many others and so we can hope that he will be of similar caliber.

      • Beth McField says:

        Dear Sir/Madam,


        Thank you for your kind words about my Mother. I was very lucky to have her after the passing of my biological Mother, I can say that her family remains in my life today and has played a vital role in my educational and professional success.  My core foundation was built on the respectable backs of many Jamaican and expatriate educators, The Bromfields, Mrs. Evans, Mr. Broderick, Ms. Reid (art and spanish), Mr. Spooner, Mr. Eastman, Mr. Francis (though annoying), Ms. Fletcher, Mr. Basdeo (though too stern, smile), Mr. and Mrs. Boldeau and all those teachers who treated us like their very own.  If we had those calibre teachers in school today our children would be something instead of gangster want-to-be’s with no respect for themselves much less their elders, including their own parents.  We need to take our youth back and that might mean starting with the support of this man as he begins his journey in The Cayman Islands.


        Respectfully – Beth McField