Cayman International School: A school that fosters 21st-century skills

By Ariel Thompson

24 February 2021

Grade 12 student Isabela W.'s first impression of Cayman International School's new high school was predictable.

"It's huge!" she says of the nearly 100,000 square foot building that welcomed students for the first time last month.

Isabela has attended Cayman International School — usually referred to as "CIS" — since kindergarten and she’s had a front-row seat to the school’s growth. The school has, in turn, nurtured her growth as well.

new high school interior

“The best part about attending CIS is the close-knit community,” says Isabela. “Especially in recent events, it has been very apparent that those in the CIS community are there for one another and will support each other in times of need, and in times of celebration," she says. "I’m going to miss this part next year when I’m off at university.”

Even with only a half year of high school left, Isabela is happy she has an opportunity to experience learning in the new building, which students occupied when they returned from their winter break.

“It was an easy transition and I quickly learned the new layout," says Isabela. "I enjoy having more open spaces for learning and appreciate having more liberty in choosing where I want to work.”

new high school interior

Isabela says her favourite space to work in so far is the school’s new library. With many windows lining the tall walls, she says it offers her a quiet and bright working environment.

CIS is intentional about the spaces it provides for students to help maximise their learning experiences. The school's governing body, International School Services, is focused on creating world-class schools worldwide, and that was the goal when it partnered with Dart to deliver CIS's facilities.

new high school interior

CIS teacher Gareth Colley says he is impressed with the classrooms in the new high school building, including the art room and the STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics — labs. He says the learning spaces provide students with a dynamic and flexible learning environment.

“It’s very much an open plan and easy to reconfigure to meet the needs of individual students — which is powerful and we are lucky in that respect.”

high school library exterior

Colley says he also feels lucky to teach in CIS's modern high school.

“I’ve never been in a (high school) or even many universities that look like this — especially from a technology standpoint," he says.

new high school interior

Colley’s approach to teaching sees students practising 21st-century skills nurtured in learning spaces such as the STEAM labs. 

“They are skills for the future — creativity, collaboration, innovation, design, thinking — all of the things practised in the [engineering] industry,” he says. “That’s the real purpose of a STEAM lab — to have an environment that fosters these skills.”

This article first appeared in the February 2021 print edition of Camana Bay Times with the headline "A school that fosters 21st-century skills."

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About the author

Ariel Thompson is a content manager at Dart, having joined the company in 2017. A lifelong writer, Ariel was born and raised in the Cayman Islands before studying abroad at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, for her degree in public relations and film and television. With eight years of experience in communications, Ariel joined Dart after working as Cayman International School’s first marketing communications officer. As her name would suggest, Ariel is a Disney fan and has a singing voice to rival The Little Mermaid’s. She loves to conceptualise TV and movie scripts and hopes one day to be a director. When in Camana Bay, Ariel can be found enjoying Mizu Asian Bistro + Bar’s Pad Thai, or shopping with friends and a scoop of gelato in hand.

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