Date ArticleType
5/29/2018 Events

Teachers are the centre of attention at emotional 2018 Golden Apple Awards

12 influential teachers were recognised for their outstanding contributions to the Cayman Islands’ education system at the 2018 Golden Apple Awards on Saturday, May 26.

Almost two hundred people congregated at the Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman to support teachers from local public and private schools, including business and community leaders, and government representatives.

“Education is one of the most important aspects of our community, and educator have the unenviable task of shaping the leaders of tomorrow,” said President Paul Byles during his opening remarks.

“It is encouraging to see so many people here tonight showing their support for local teachers. On behalf of the Chamber of Council, staff and membership I would like to thank you all for joining us.”

A dozen educators were in attendance to be recognised for their dedication to teaching local students, including the Lifetime Achievement Recipient Nimmi Sekhar.

The first award of the evening was presented by two Dart high school scholars, who presented the Primary Teacher in a Public School.

“Teaching is not an easy profession, but it is a selfless one, and those who lead in the classroom show on a daily basis that they are dedicated to improving the lives of others,” said Stephanie Gunby, one of two Dart high school scholars.

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Shakeina Bush was the recipient of the Golden Apple Award for a Primary Teacher in a Public School.

Shakeina Bush (Sir John A. Cumber Primary School) and Heather Thompson (Lighthouse School) both made their way to the stage to accept their honouree awards, before Shakeina Bush was declared the recipient of the Golden Apple Award.

“This is extremely an honour, so first of all I thank God for making this possible,” said Ms. Bush on receiving the award.

“I hope, as I stand here tonight, I inspire young Caymanians who are unsure about being a teacher in the future. If it’s your calling, the calling of your heart, go for it.”

The second award of the evening focused on the teachers in Private Primary Schools, and Mr. Jim Fraser, Director of the Armand Hammer Foundation, was on hand to present the award, saying: “On behalf of Michael Hammer and the Armand Hammer Foundation, it is my honour to present the award for Primary School Teacher in a Private School.”

“As the founder of the Grace Christian Academy, Mr. Hammer knows first-hand how important education is to our youth and the necessity for strong and influential teachers in the classroom.”

The finalists for this category were Emily Garvey (St. Ignatius Catholic School) and Asynthia Lewis (First Baptist Christian School). Both teachers were acknowledged with their honouree awards, with Ms. Garvey presented with the Golden Apple Award also.

“Thank you, it’s an incredible honour,” said Ms. Garvey.

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Emily Garvey accepts her Honouree Award from President Paul Byles.

“My students are incredible, just as all students are. Their love of learning, their happiness, and their resilience is really important to me as a teacher. It’s not just about academic success, it’s about them knowing in their hearts and their minds that, no matter what life throws at them, they have that resilience and that confidence to succeed.”

The third award of the evening saw the focus of recognition shift to the teachers in local high schools with the High School Teacher in a Public School Award presented next, for which Mrs. Denise Henry-Colquhoon (Clifton Hunter High School) and Mrs. Patrice Douglas-Hanson (John Gray High School) were finalists.

Master of Ceremonies and Miss Cayman Islands, Anika Connolly, presented this award on behalf of Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) as part of her ambassador duties. John Gray teacher Mrs. Douglas-Hanson was presented with the Golden Apple Award.

“I’ve always said that teaching, for me, started out as an accident,” said Mrs. Douglas-Hanson.

“Reflecting on my journey in teaching has given me reason to believe that my place in the classroom has been anything but accidental. I’ve met some fantastic students and worked with some terrific people along the way.”
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Patrice Douglas-Hanson accepts her Honouree Award from Councillor Barbara Connolly.

“I am pleased to be selected for this Golden Apple Award. However, tonight is not about me, neither is it about the 11 other finalists. Rather, it is about celebrating all teachers on these islands and recognising the important role they play in shaping the future of our children.”

The fourth award of the evening was the High School Teacher in a Private School, with Aleisha Lalor (Branch Manager, Caribbean Alliance Insurance Company) honouring the finalists.

“Caribbean Alliance are proud supporters of the Chamber of Commerce’s educational initiatives, having partnered with them for their Mentoring Cayman programme,” she said.

“This year we are happy to celebrate those who oversee the classroom too.”

Aleisha introduced finalist Mr. Coaine Richards (St. Ignatius Catholic School) to the stage to accept his honouree award. Unfortunately, second finalist Bill LaMonte (Cayman International School) was unable to attend, with Nicole Brandford accepting his honouree award on his behalf.

Mr. Coaine Richards was named the recipient for the High School Teacher in a Private School Award.
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Coaine Richards received the Golden Apple Award for a High School Teacher in a Private School.

“This is a huge honour… I never thought I’d be here accepting this award,” said Mr. Richards.

“I take great pride in knowing I have chosen the right profession because every day I enter the classroom I have an opportunity to make a difference in this world through the next generation.”

The penultimate award of the evening was for a Principal in a Public or Private School, which was presented by Councillor Barbara Connolly.

Three finalists were recognised with honouree awards in this category, including Marcia Rennie (Edna M. Moyle Primary School), Mable Richardson (Triple C High School) and April Tibbetts (West End Primary School).

Marcia Rennie was declared the recipient of the Golden Apple Award.

“I would like to thank the Ministry and the Chamber of Commerce,” said Marcia when receiving her award.

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Councillor Barbara Connolly (right) presents Marcia Rennie (left) with her Honouree Award.

“One of the questions I was asked on my interview was ‘what would you tell someone going into teaching? I said I’d tell them it wasn’t an easy job. I’d tell them it was often a thankless job. But I’d tell them it was always a rewarding one.”

The final award of the evening recognised Nimmi Sekhar and her thirty-three year long career in the world of education, and was presented by President Paul Byles on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce.

“Most of us cannot wait to escape the classroom as we get older, but this individual has been a staple of it, enriching the lives of hundreds of students over her decades-long career,” he said.

The near two-hundred person crowd gave Nimmi a standing ovation as she made her way to accept the award, with emotion filling the room.

“Thank you to the organisers, the Ministry of Education and the Chamber of Commerce for hosting this evening. I thank you all very much for this award,” said Ms. Sekhar.

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Nimmi Sekhar receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from President Paul Byles.

“My proudest moments were usually at graduation time. When I see the graduates with their diplomas in their hands, some of them I have known them grown from nursery students to graduates, and to think I had a small part to play in their success and achievements.”

“This award is wonderful, and I thank you all for it. But what is more wonderful is the school that I helped start is going to grow and continue to help and care for kids.”

“I feel very privileged to have been a part of the school, and the excellent school community that we have in the Cayman Islands.” “I consider this recognition and this honour as a jewel in the crown of my professional life.”

President Paul Byles concluded by showing the audience a card he had recently received from his high-school Spanish Teacher, Marjorie Ebanks who taught him when he was 12 years old. He used Ms Ebanks actions as testament to the fact that teachers’ care for the wellbeing of their students extends far beyond the class room. The crowd responded with a standing ovation in honour of Ms Ebanks and all of the teachers in the country.

The 2009 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Marjorie had written to President Byles to congratulate him on his election as Chamber President at the 2017 Annual General Meeting.

The Chamber of Commerce would like to congratulate all honourees on being recognised for their outstanding contributions to local education, as well as the guests who attended to show their support.

The Chamber would also like to thank the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture & Lands and the Armand Hammer Foundation for serving as Partners in Education for the event, as well as the following corporate sponsors:

• Caribbean Alliance Insurance Company

• Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC)


• Broadhurst LLC

• Cayman National


• Foster’s IGA

• GT Automotive

• Kensington Management Group

• Kirk Office

• Office Supply

• Yello Media Group

• Chatterbox

• LIFE (Literacy Is For Everyone)

• Cayman Spaces

• Picture This

• The Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman

• Scotiabank