SEN veteran teacher takes up policy post

| 01/02/2016 | 3 Comments
Cayman News Service

Shari Smith, Senior Policy Manager and Advisor for Inclusion in the Cayman Islands Education Ministry

(CNS): Shari Smith has been appointed as the new Senior Policy Manager and Advisor for Inclusion in the ministry of education after more than 20 years as an educator in the special needs field. Starting at the Lighthouse School as a teacher, she was deputy principal and then principal at the school. Most recently she was the Sunrise Adult Training Centre director, where she oversaw the programmes and workshops for 39 clients with varying disabilities. 

In her new role Smith, who is a Caymanian, will now work on developing and leading national strategies and policies on behalf of people with additional educational needs or who are otherwise at risk of exclusion from educational opportunities, including those with disabilities from early years through adulthood, young people exhibiting emotional and behavioural challenges, English as Second Language (ESL) students and Gifted And Talented Education (GATE).

Smith was chair of the Cayman Islands Disability Policy (CIDP) Subcommittee that developed the disability policy. She is currently a member of the Long-term Mental Health Facility Steering Committee and the Disability Policy Inter-Ministerial Implementation Task Force and also sits on the Public Education Committee, which is tasked with the development of the Cayman Islands Disability Bill and implementation of the Disability Policy.

Smith said she was excited about working on the implementation of the policy and the forthcoming disability bill.

“We are moving towards being a truly inclusive society and therefore need to ensure that our educating institutions, vocational training programmes and special schools are not only preparing our students and clients for such, but that we are working with our leaders and community members to create that inclusivity,” she added.

Cayman News Service

Kimberly Voaden, Acting Director of the Sunrise Adult Training Centre

Chief officer in the ministry, Christen Suckoo, said he was thrilled to welcome Smith and the advancement of the Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) agenda under her leadership.

“This post was previously held by a non-Caymanian who completed a two-year contract. Prior to the expiration of the contract, an open recruitment process led to the successful appointment of a qualified Caymanian. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Annita Cornish, who previously held the position, for her dedicated service,” he said.

Another Caymanian, Kimberly Voaden, who previously held the position of Programme Manager at Sunrise, has succeeded Smith as Acting Director at the facility. Congratulating her on that appointment, Suckoo said that SEND was a priority for the ministry.

“It is most encouraging to have two experienced Caymanian educators heading up the various initiatives that will allow us to better serve individuals with special needs and/or disabilities,” he added.


Education Minister Tara Rivers said she was pleased to have someone of Smith’s calibre heading up such an important area of Cayman’s education system.

“Her diversity and years of experience, coupled with her passion for working to improve the lives of people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities makes her a key advocate and resource in the ministry to help to carry out the government’s agenda to place greater emphasis and focus on addressing the challenges experienced by persons with special education needs and disabilities,” she added.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations Shari and Kimberly! You have both put in quality time over the years and have served outstandingly.

    Your promotions are well deserved, albeit only acting for Kimberly at the moment. Kimberly, I truly hope that you are given the opportunity to accept the position permanently.

    This need to happen more…Caymanians getting opportunities.

    • Sonia says:

      I’m so impressed with what I see happening in the civil service. So many educated and experienced caymanians getting appointed and promoted. The DG promised this and he has delivered. Congrats to both ladies. You make us proud.

      • Anonymous says:

        The desire is to have experienced and educated civil servants. The danger, especially with this government, is that too much weight will be given to nationally instead. Still well done to both on their deserved and excellent promotions.

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