JGHS principal to act as education boss

| 19/02/2015 | 50 Comments
Cayman News Service

Lyneth Monteith, Acting Chief Education Officer

(CNS): Lyneth Monteith, the John Gray High School’s current principal, will take on the role of acting chief education officer after the departure of Shirley Wahler next week, ministry officials have confirmed. As a result of her temporary promotion, Deputy Principal Matthew Holmes will step in as the school boss, the Education Ministry also revealed Thursday.

Acting Chief Officer Christen Suckoo stated that the post of chief education officer would be advertised but moving Monteith into the acting role was an important part of succession planning and would help her to be a “viable candidate” for the substantive job.

As Wahler leaves to take up a new job in St Helena, Monteith, who has been running the largest school in the islands and has a long history in the local education system, will building upon the strengths of the system and tackle the areas of weakness that remain, Suckoo stated in a release from the ministry announcing the leadership changes.

“Ms Monteith has led John Gray through numerous improvements and although there is still more work to be done, I feel that Ms Monteith has the experience and professional knowledge that place her in contention to lead the education system,” he said, giving a clear nod that the school principal is in line for the post.

“I believe people sometimes underestimate the amount of hard work and dedication that goes into supporting over 1,000 teenagers to develop academically, socially, emotionally and physically. This is not an easy task but one that Ms Monteith and her team at John Gray High School have continuously strived for,” he said.

Monteith has spent the past 34 years as an educator, with 26 of those in leadership positions across middle and high school. This has enabled her to gain experience at different levels of the system, from classroom teacher through to senior leadership, the ministry release indicted.

The ministry said that under her leadership, the school’s external examination results have improved. “Prior to 2010, the results for students achieving 5 level 2 passes were in the low two figure range. Today all JGHS students are entered for level two courses and the results, which improved by 7% in 2011, have continued to steadily improve.”

The release said that in 2014, the school was “on target for the predicted percentage of 5 level 2 passes (including English and Mathematics)”, and although the ministry stopped short of divulging the actual figure, the release claimed that this was “an achievement which has never occurred in previous years”. The full statistics regarding the 2014 external examinations have inexplicably never been released to the public, as is the norm.

Singing her praises, he said the new acting CEO had the ability to be “strategic, visionary and plan long term for improvement”.

Monteith holds a Bachelor of Education from Leeds University, a Masters of Arts in Educational Management from Bath University and a National Educational Leadership Certification (NELP).  She has also taken part in continued professional development and has certifications in project management, change management, and restorative justice.

Preparing to start her new but temporary job, she stated, “I very much look forward to the challenges of this position, but more importantly, I look forward to the opportunities to contribute to improvements and effect positive change in education services.”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Now, I know Lyneth well and I like her very much, but this is not the job for her. She struggled to have any impact at John Grey and despaired at this herself. She spent most of her time chasing boys smoking ganja and stopping fights. She has no interest in Primary education and a dislike for the internal politics that have caused a lot of the issues. She is a pragmatist, which means she’ll recognise all of this. She didn’t apply for the SSIO jobs precisely because she knows they’re a hiding to nothing. She knows how to solve some things, but the Ministry will never back her to do this. The system was fatally wounded by the staff it lost in summer 2013 and 2014 and it no longer attracts quality candidates and Tara just wants shot of the whole thing to the churches. Mark my words.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your comments seem reasonable. This is definitely not the job for someone if they do not like politics. Will she be able to fend off the friends and politicians who will try to manipulate her? By your account she is too decent a person to withstand the pressures of cronyism and back stabbing. So where does that leave us?

      • Anonymous says:

        It leaves us in a state. The Ministry now has total control of the education agenda and there isn’t one single person in the Ministry I would trust or consider competent or skilled. XXXX

        The real damage is being down at the tiers below. The best Maths teacher in the whole system left in the Summer and is now running a private tuition company because she couldn’t stand the Govt system. So many experienced, skilled expat staff have left in the last two years, it’s been a massive brain drain and the replacements just haven’t been of a good enough standard.

    • Anonymous says:

      She did apply for SSIO, but Gloria Bell was appointed instead. (You can FOI it!)

      You make it sound like she doesn’t want the job. Pretty sure she had to accept the offer…

      • Anonymous says:

        Who cares who applied for the SSIO job and why would anyone want to FOI it?

      • Anonymous says:

        The previous SSIO resigned in January 2014 and the other is returning to NZ this June. There were at least three attempts to persuade a Caymanian to apply for an SSIO role from June 2013 when the previous SSIO left and all of them refused until the fourth round. Are you saying that Lyneth applied, but didn’t get the SSIO role? What does that tell you about the system that she’s now CEO?

    • Anonymous says:

      It is clear from the teacher conference on Tuesday and Mrs Wahler’s emotional address that she was a woman not ready to move on but I guess the politics of it all finally got to her. Shame on your government for treating one of their own so badly she felt the need to get out.

      • Anonymous says:

        From the moment they announced the round of Inspections, she was a dead woman walking. Mrs Wahler had been talking about getting out for over a year now, but this was the final straw. Mrs Rodrigues promoted and Mrs Wahler gone…now you know who won the battle that had been going on for years

        • Anonymous says:

          I know and the inspectors brought in were never allowed to speak to anyone at the Department of Education or the Ministry of Education. For weeks they did not speak even to us the teachers or give feedback. It is worth noting that the inspectors brought in had never inspected schools in the public sector before. It is clear that the agenda was for them to find the public sector schools less than adequate so that C4C can get on with the job of privatising. Even the base line inspection conducted by a consultant from an accountancy firm with offices in London, has submitted his report but it has been sent back for altering. Why, because it does not paint JGHS in a good light and that would throw serious doubt on the wisdom of electing his head to the high position of Acting CEO. So Ms Rivers attempt at a base line assessment of where Cayman is at will not actually contain the original base line.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations to a woman of stature. Hard worker. Experienced and well qualified for the job. How many would stay for 34 years and still continue to give all. Well done.

  3. anonymous says:

    Thank you for your contribution to education, Mrs. Wahler, Godspeed on our pending travels, and success in your future endeavors.

    I support the selection of Mrs. Monteith, congratulate, and also wish her all the best. While Mrs. Monteith is up to the role as a professional, the future of our children’s education and Mrs. Monteith’s success while she fills the role depends on well-researched, developed and implemented education policies, with clearly-defined, measurable goals, and a de-politicized approach to the education system. The support of the upper echelons of Government, while maintaining professional governance standards, transparency and accountability, is essential. Without this approach, our education system (the foundation of a country), is bound go around in the the same circles it has for 40 years.

    Too often the culture of our public system allows well-qualified, well-selected, good people to be set-up to fail by simply not allowing those required attributes to exist.

  4. Anonymous says:

    As someone who has worked under Ms. Monteith, I will say to all of her nay-sayers, that because she has worked at every level of education in Cayman, the lady has an idea as to how to address many of the issues in education in Cayman. The problem, that many of her nay-sayers either refuse to acknowledge or are genuinely ignorant of, is that, like many other leaders in Caymanian education, her hands are legally tied when it comes to addressing certain issues…

    Take for example, the commenter who mentioned “shenanigans in the bathrooms” at JGHS; children in Cayman nowadays are like water; they will find all of the hidden cracks and places to do their dirt. A big part of this problem is that the schools are SEVERELY understaffed – as the principal of JGHS, Ms. Monteith is not to be blamed for this. Certainly the schools have a duty to reinforce good values and morals in children, however these values must first be instilled at home. And having worked with some of these problem-children myself, I will say, that she has given her staff her support in dealing with issues (as far as she’s legally permitted to do).

    It sounds like many of the nay-sayers are some of these same parents, who “offer” lip-service to the schools about their support, yet renege on that offer and want to curse out and blame the education system when it DOES try to deal with their unruly children (again, as far as they’re legally permitted to).

    Even if nothing changes under Ms. Monteith’s leadership, I would challenge her nay-sayers to first examine all of those legal ‘ties’ that prevent her from making those needed changes before they judge her ability as a leader in education.

    Let’s give the lady a fair chance.

    • Anonymous says:

      Get your facts straight. The school at an 11 to 1 ratio is not understaffed. According to you the problem lies everywhere but in its leadership. You cite, the pupils, the parents, being under staffed but don’t question at all its head or senior management. How convenient. Yes there are problem kids, yes not all teachers are excellent, and yes some parenting leaves a lot to be desired. However you cannot hold parents and pupils or lack of recourses responsible for poor leadership. That sir/madam lies squarely at the top.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ms. Monteith congratulations on your appointment as Acting Chief Education Officer. I am sure you will make us proud. It is unfortunate the cruel comments being made but it is not uncommon against the women in the Service ……starting with Ms. Sheena Glasgow and Ms. Cheryl Richards. They are all decent women trying to their jobs without adequate support and resources.

    • Anonymous says:

      No one has suggested that on here that Ms Monteith is not a decent woman but her tenure at John Grey is hardly a successful one. This is fact and is not a personal attack. Her record stands for itself and unfortunately it is not a good one or why else do they feel the need to doctor reports on the schools failures.

    • Anonymous says:

      Permit me 6:32, 21/02, to append to your post: the women you mention are brilliant professionals whom we are lucky to have. Miss Glasgow did not deserve that horrible trashing she received at the hand of the media some weeks ago. Post offices worldwide are struggling to remain viable with the advent of technology. She goes off to an overseas conference to get information on rising to the challenges and she gets beat up because of costs in that particular environment. She no doubt has suggested changes and has been denied the resources to put those new strategies in place. I have no doubt about that!

      Ms Glasgow is not a personal friend of mine, but I know enough about her to know she is bright and uses her brain. So no one needs to tell me that much of the time her hands are tied. Sad thing is that we will put an Englishman in her place, and the red carpet is laid out and everything he needs to succeed is laid out — including enough obsequiousness to make you sick. And I don’t have anything against Englishmen — or Englishwomen — for that matter — but that is the nature of the Cayman political and governmental beast right now — we beat up on our own and deprive them of resources; we are shocked when we leave at the resources that miraculously materialize.

      In the meantime in the private sector we get treated to three-day waits for technicians — if they arrive at all; intra-office communication failures and foul ups; hefty fees and penalties — particularly in the competitive environment that was supposed to result in faster, improved service at lower costs. A big failure — none of those promised benefits are materializing.

      In spite of these frustrations, we see a pressure to take over government services, such as the Water Authority, for example, which is affordable and working perfectly fine, thank you.

      There is all a hidden agenda here. Beware!

      As far as Mrs. Monteith is concerned, I laud her for her courage in taking on the JGHS. That must be one pressure cooker of a job. In environments in which everyone is under pressure, blaming is rampant. And, yes, I am sure Mrs. Monteith made mistakes and I am sure it has been a learning process for her. But in spite of the problems, infrastructural limitations, very poor aesthetic appeal of the campus, we hear of dramatic academic successes. She must have been doing something right!

      I hope that her new colleagues will rally around her and support her. We have to succeed — the minds of future generations are at stake.

      Parents, your role is critical.

      Let us pull together.

  6. Anonymous says:

    There really has never been a harder time to be a Civil Servant, most people in the Private Sector look forward to and dream of a promotion or some type of positive recognition. Civil Servants look at it with dread as they know, the moment they get it, the public rips them to shreds.

    This woman has given 34 years as an educator, that is 34 years of her life in service to her Country doing a job that, as one person said, “many others wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole” I guess some of these comments are the thanks of a grateful nation. Keep your head up Ms. Monteith, do not be discouraged by some of the hateful comments you see here, jealousy, hate and ignorance are a toxic combination.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ditto, 10:36. The sacrifices that people make to do these unthankful jobs! But time longer than rope, and time will tell. jealousy rears its ugly head at times like these.

  7. Bonnie Anglin says:

    I would like to believe that the Bloggers are all active Members of the PTA at your child or children school. If you have no children, I hope you are volunteering with our youth, in any way you can, which in turn help our schools to improve further. Or, you could start a campaign to assist with the much needed improvements to the physical structure at JGHS. Or, you could encourage your friends and family who are parents to take a more active role in their children’s education and support their schools. Our problem is not our Teachers or Principals, but rather the parents who are disengaged in their children’s education but stay at home and complain.

  8. Bonnie Anglin says:

    Congratulations to Lyneth – a qualified, dedicated and hard working Principal of a very large High School. You have made tremendous improvements at JGHS and I have no doubt that you will do the same as Acting Chief Education Officer. I hope one day soon to read that you have been appointed as Chief! You have made us proud!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Give the woman a chance. Best wishes Ms. Monteith. May God be with you as you embark on this new journey. She has done incredibly well with JGHS, considering the resources she had available to her.
    I don’t know if it is just the culture here but I observe that people here tend to be very negative and jealous of others success. Instead of lifting up their fellow Caymanians, they always seem quite eager to tear them down. Beginning to understand what someone meant when they said most Caymanians have a “crab in a bucket mentality”.

    • Anonymous says:

      John grey does not have a problem with resources but it does have a problem with its leaders.

      • Anonymous says:

        JGHS no problem with resources? What world do you live in? What what I can gather it does not even have a library.

        • Anonymous says:

          Ok so it doesn’t have a library. Giving it one would not make for good leadership or turn the school around. You can throw all the resources you like at it it will not make a difference. The difference will be made when you get leadership, supporting senior managers who in turn support teachers. The vision has to come from the top and supported throughout the school. Get a good head and allow them to do the job without interference and you will see a change.

          • Anonymous says:

            You omitted the most important people: parents. The disrespectful behaviour lies with the parents. Managers/teachers/principals are not to blame for the bullies/low morals.

      • Anonymous says:

        SOOOOO VERY true. I say clean out the very old and bring in the new and interested. Bring in people who actually care about the kids and doing thier job and get rid of the old who only care about the title.

        • Anonymous says:

          You cannot “get rid” of a Caymanian or someone with status for being hopeless at their jobs. Solve that one!

          • Anonymous says:

            There is a uniquely cayman solution to poor teachers who are Cayman. They are moved to either the Ministry or Dept of Education if the school is lucky and those very people who could not teach to save their lives now are put in positions where they sometimes formulate or contribute to policy. Even the ones that Re given lower positions will have their teachers salary protected.

    • Anonymous says:

      To all the naysayers, time will tell.

      Check back in five years or so, and wash the egg off your faces.

      In the meantime, here is what I recommend: Work “To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticise others.” (To quote anonymous author of poem “Promise Yourself”)

  10. Anonymous says:

    Why so negative? Let’s give her a chance,

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree 9:51. One thing for sure, the new acting CEO will understand the issues.

      She has been doing a job that most of us would not touch with a ten foot pole. She is eminently qualified; she is awesomely experienced; she understands the issues; and she is one gutsy woman.

      Let’s not lay at her feet the problems of the disastrous parenting and the fractiousness of modern Cayman.

      Good luck, lady Monteith; go with God.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you cannot understand what is needed to turn your school around when you are in the driving seat, how in the name of oue Lord, is she going to lead education across the islands?

  11. IMHO says:

    This appointment is absolutely unbelievable. Was there a process? Did anyone get the opportunity to apply for this position? Were names just randomly selected out of a hat? How in God ‘s name can someone who has been at the helm of that dysfunctional FAILURE of a school where the ‘thugs run tings”; where teachers are afraid of students and where the leader cannot command respect from colleagues nor students; how does his person qualify to take over the biggest job in Education? Things will never change because no one has the courage to demand change. This is really sad.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is need of a school/boot camp for those disrespectful/violent children. Special teachers for special behaviour is a necessity. Thug-like students are feared. This is the parents’ fault. Some parents are violent.

      Diligent people can’t achieve their full potential in this environment. Separate them.

  12. Patricia Ebanks says:

    Congratulations, Mrs. Monteith, a truly awesome educator. I join a host of well wishers in praying for God’s blessings as you move forward. I look forward to even greater heights in the Islands’ educational development under your leadership.

  13. My goodness!! has anyone check recently at the state of J.G.H.S,the school is in shambles.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Mr Suckoo if you think this is succession management then you need further training in succession management.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are so right. Has no one heard of all the shenanigans going on in the bathrooms at the school, kids leaving the campus without anyone addressing this, etc? Wow, how will education change if we keep repeating mistakes?

      • Anonymous says:

        Be effective parents and then your children will be among the successful students instead of the thugs. Stop blaming others for your rude children. Its your fault.

        • Anonymous says:

          Your comment is not helpful. Throwing blame is not helpful. What is helpful is to ensure that parenting classes are taught early, that parents are supported in their role and that when pupils get out of hand in schools there is an effective system in place to deal with bad behavior. The current situation at JGHS where some academies work very well and others extremely poorly shows that the situation can be managed with adequate leaderships.

  15. Just Sayin' says:

    Out of the frying pan and in to the fire.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Still more work to be done? According to the inspectors there is a mountain to climb but perhaps you have not seen that report.

    • Anonymous says:

      Have you seen the report? Interesting comment! I don’t think it has been written yet much less published. Be constructive in your comments, climb your mountain first and take a good view before you open your mouth.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am guessing the reference might be to the report on Behavior that was carried out in 2012 by David Moore that was buried and then outrageously altered by the Ministry/Department and came to light (both versions) suddenly in 2014….reading the original gives a very good picture of how things are at JGHS and elsewhere here!

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually I have but it wont see the light of day in its present form.

      • Anonymous says:

        The report has been written and the final version will be available soon!

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