Joanna Clarke nominees focus on special education

| 19/04/2011

(CNS): Many of the projects selected for this year’s Joanna Clarke Excellence in Education Award (JCA) focus on special education needs and are projects mostly outside the mainstream school curriculum. The finalists for the education initiative created by dms Organization Ltd (DMS) are Catch Up Literacy, Speech and Language Therapy Department, the Harmony Learning Centre, the School Counsellor’s Group and the Early Years Task Force. The five finalists were selected from twenty applications that qualified and one or more will receive up to KYD $12,000 to fund their project. Chairperson of the JCA Committee Joanna Clarke said there was a wider range of applicants, with more non-profit associations this year in addition to schools.

“While it is challenging to determine between such impressive initiatives, ultimately we determined the finalists due to them being the strongest in aligning with our distinct criteria, particularly that of sustainability,” she explained. “We have always been inclined to offer grants and support initiatives that we are confident will continue to grow and flourish for many years. Interestingly, three of our five finalists were literacy initiative candidates, which is key to children’s education and development. We certainly have a hard decision ahead of us.”

Catch Up Literacy requested funding for its programme addressing the problem of underachievement that is often rooted in literacy and numeracy challenges. In 2010 literacy coaches underwent training to offer the programme which is based on a proven literacy model that enables and supports the sustainable use and embedding of the Catch Up Cayman intervention for ‘at risk’ students across Cayman’s public schools.

The Speech and Language Therapy Department is seeking funding to set up a Training Assistance Programme, which is intended to train and support parents and caregivers of children with language delays to understand how they can assist with language development. They will undergo a 12-week training programme to become language facilitators and understand how to maximize children’s daily routines and playtimes.

The Harmony Learning Centre, based in Cayman Brac, is dedicated to supporting people with developmental disabilities and their families through increasing their opportunities to make choices and decisions about the quality of their lives and responding to their changing needs. The centre requested funding to launch its Day Programme.

The School Counsellor’s Group applied for the grant to support its mission to use guidance counselling to expose and build awareness in social skills, human development, self-identification and how to make decisions based on facts.

The Early Years Task Force is seeking help with its Preschool Educational and Training Assistance Programme to provide literacy and phonics kits to all 30 registered preschools throughout the Cayman Islands. The project will also provide the relevant professional development and training workshops for teachers.

Last year’s JCA recipients were Cayman Prep and High School for its Marine Science Programme, George Town Primary School for its Digital Visual Media Club and John Gray High School for its Scuba Diving Club.

The five finalists for this year will now have the opportunity to present their project and partake in a question-and-answer session, which will be considered against the award’s criteria previously established by the committee members.

DMS Vice President and JCA Committee Member Krista Pell said the award was one which DMS holds in the highest regard as it draws attention to the number of deserving local initiatives that need private sector support. “Corporate social responsibility is key, and we take that responsibility seriously,” she added.

The 2011 winner or winnerswill be announced Saturday, 14 May, at the Grand Old House. The evening is open to the public and money raised from the event funds the Joanna Clarke Scholarship Fund, an extension of the JCA, to support to an aspiring or existing teacher looking to further their education.

“We hope the business community joins us to celebrate and support these amazing candidates who are all working toward a better tomorrow for Cayman,” added Pell. “We also wanted to take the opportunity to express our appreciation to the many local media entities that continue to show support in heightening awareness about this award – it is truly a community effort.”

Joanna Clarke Award of Excellence in Education website

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