4 min read
Many people when they think of Grand Cayman, or the Caribbean as a whole, imagine grand, luxurious vacations, surrounded by palm trees and turquoise waters. But something that may not come to mind is working. Or what’s more… teaching. Alas, contrary to my photos on Instagram, my time in Cayman has not solely been spent galivanting atop white sand beaches…I do actually have to work! Crazy, I know.
While my friends and family back home know me as a high school Spanish teacher, this year I am actually not teaching high school…nor am I teaching Spanish. I am teaching Physical Education at a Montessori school “by the sea.” It is a year-long substitute position and has so far been an amazing experience! While I continue to seek out a Spanish role for next year, I am lucky to be where I am and after you see my workspace below, you will be asking if YOU can teach PE at my school!
My Drive to School
The school where I work is about a 15 to 20 minute commute from our apartment, a “long” commute by island standards but a short commute compared to the 35 minutes I used to traverse across the WI/MN border to Somerset! Any given morning you will see me cruising on Esterly Tibbetts Highway and past the lonely airport in our baby blue Fiat 500 or atop our snazzy scooter sporting my pink helmet. With the morning light streaming through the palms and the warm Caribbean breeze, the ride to school is quite an enjoyable one!
Outdoor Space + Weather
In the US, PE is a subject that is taught almost exclusively in the gymnasium. At my school in Cayman there is no indoor gym space for PE class; rather, we count on the weather being beautiful for the kids to play their sports outside on the grass or the court. Let me just say that the distrust I have garnered towards the weather while growing up in Wisconsin remains strong here in Cayman. While yes, we are currently in the tropical storm season, I swear it must rain 9 days out of 10…sometimes for an hour, sometimes just 5 minutes. But we are not talking about cute little sprinkles…we are talking full on torrential rain that results in screaming, running children with wet, muddy shoes. Everyone assures me that this weather is “not typical,” but I remain wary and always come prepared for the elements. My mom taught me well!
The PE Shed
Though cute and seemingly innocent, let me just say that PE equipment is not the only thing residing inside this shed. While opening up the door in the mornings to take out what I need for the day, I have come across lizards, frogs, scorpions, and even snakes. Alas, I still go in and take out all of the equipment like the hero that I am!
Being that the great outdoors serves as my “classroom,” I do not have a room that belongs just to me this year. La Maisonette (named as such because it was previously the French classroom), serves as my office area and work space. It was actually made from shipping containers! I share it with another teacher and have a desk with lovely green views out my window. Most days I watch the chickens and iguanas graze in the yard and on particularly clear days, I can even spot a sliver of the ocean to the left of the blue classroom building.
An Unbeatable Lunch Spot
In my experience working at schools, there are one of two places where us teachers choose to eat our lunches: hiding out in the peace and quiet of our own classroom with the door locked and lights off, or in the staff lounge with our fellow teacher friends. I never considered a third option…a picnic table on the beach accompanied by the ocean breeze and the occasional hermit crab. The third option I am describing is my current lunch lounge at my school by the sea. Somehow I seem to be the only teacher taking advantage of this space and quite honestly, I am loving it!
The school is situated on one of the most picturesque roads in all of the island. It is calm, quiet, surrounded by trees and beautiful homes, and runs right alongside the water. I often take walking breaks up and down this road for 10 to 15 minutes just for a quick respite from the work mindset.
My Go-To Work Snacks
Being outside all day every day calls for nutritional reinforcement. While the most obvious necessity while working in the heat is plain old water, I have also become a huge fan of coconut water. Not only does it provide amazing tropical vibes, it also restores hydration and replenishes electrolytes. Some of my other pick-me-ups that are widely available and cheap on the island are plantain chips and cassava chips. I think they are healthier than potato chips…at least that is what I tell myself.
Teaching in Paradise
I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about my Caribbean workspace and what it is like to teach by the sea! (Thank you Ms. T for the idea!) While I definitely miss my SHS family and the work I was doing there, I am so lucky to be at a school as lovely as this one and to be teaching in-person in this bubble with hardly any COVID restrictions. There is so much about my teaching adventure that I did not share in this blog. If you have questions about teaching or working in Cayman, please reach out!
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