New CedarBridge head says ability to adapt helped him secure the post
The new principal at CedarBridge believes resilience and an ability to adapt helped earn him the top job.
Kenneth Caesar added he was in his second year as acting principal at CedarBridge when the pandemic hit the island in 2020.
He said: “My experience working in Washington, DC in technology schools helped me to lead at the onset of the pandemic.
“As I reflect on our time over the past two years I am happy to say the staff did a phenomenal job transitioning to this new experience.
“We learnt a lot over the last two years about people, teaching and learning.”
Mr Caesar added: “My proudest moment was to witness the class of 2021 walk across the stage on June 30, 2021.
“For each student there was a story of how they overcame the odds to graduate.”
Mr Caesar earlier worked at schools and educational institutions in Washington, DC in the US.
He took over as principal of Sandys Secondary Middle School before he moved to CedarBridge.
He admitted: “It was a challenge initially adjusting to the environment.
“Running an organisation of almost 700 people, staff and students, is different from running a school of 400.
Mr Caesar stepped into the role of acting principal at CedarBridge in January 2018 and said it was “a huge learning curve for me professionally”.
He not only managed a pandemic but continued to “retool” with the latest in educational thinking.
He recently completed a course at Harvard University in Boston on leading in a remote environment, courses on support of pupils and teachers, as well as a data skills refresher course.
“The benefits of taking these courses allows me to be in a space of educators around the world and to learn about their experiences and the best practices they are implementing during these unprecedented times.
“Of course I get to share the great work we are doing in Bermuda also.”
The new principal at CedarBridge Academy has pledged to “prevent students from falling through the cracks”.
Kenneth Caesar said ensuring pupils and staff had the necessary resources to succeed was one of his top priorities.
He added: “As a system that goes through educational reform there is a notion some students will be left behind.
“I am committed to holding my staff accountable and preventing students from falling through the cracks.
“However, I must point out for this to happen we must have the support of our parents.”
Mr Caesar said another priority was to lead the transition of CedarBridge Academy to a signature school.
He added: “I have had the opportunity to work in charter schools in Washington, DC for seven years. I have seen the success of education reform and signature schools. It can work.
“Our community must have faith in the process. In my opinion, now is the time for Bermuda to go through this reform.”
Mr Caesar said CedarBridge staff were “the most committed group of individuals I have worked with – the passion I hear and witness every day is surreal”.
He added he wanted to help make the school’s staff the best they could be.
He said that the creation of a safe environment for pupils was vital.
Mr Caesar added: “Our young people are faced with so many challenges and different experiences in today’s society.
“I want to be a leader in repositioning the role of school within our society.
“I firmly believe we have to view school as more than academics. We must be comprehensive and offer as many services as we can within our educational environment.”
Mr Caesar highlighted the importance of the public in a good public education system.
“At CedarBridge Academy I have been immersed with some awesome young people who just want to be productive citizens.
“We need to stop judging a school, a leader or a teacher by the negative situations that you hear about.
“Behind every situation there is a story. I can attest there is teaching taking place and there is learning taking place every day at CedarBridge Academy.”
Mr Caesar told parents: “I challenge each of you to visit your child’s school in 2022, either in person or remotely.
“In order for education to work we must all play our part. There are no benches for anyone to sit on the sidelines.”
Mr Caesar took over at CedarBridge after former principal Kalmar Richards was appointed Commissioner of Education.
He has been a leader in the Government’s plan to shake up education, which includes streamlining the primary system, abolition middle schools and the introduction of specialist signature schools.
Mr Caesar’s school and the Berkeley Institute will become the first two signature schools next September.
CedarBridge will specialise in science, technology, English and maths, as well as in building construction and maintenance.
“The challenging part is how fast society changes. Although the foundation of education is grounded on theoretical frameworks and best practices, the world is changing rapidly and we must interpret the frameworks and practices to our current situation.
“For instance, a major goal of the reform is to ensure we are preparing our students to compete locally and globally.
“When we look at the future of work, we know jobs are going to be different after the pandemic.”
Mr Caesar added one example was the “metaverse” – a virtual reality way to teach.
“My question now is, what role will the Metaverse play in education? Are students going to stay at home and go to school in the Metaverse?”
Mr Caesar said he did not know how much it would cost to retool CedarBridge as a signature school.
“I anticipate renovations and additions will take place on campus to facilitate the expansion of our curriculum in the specialty areas,” he added.
“For the academic environment, there will be a focus on personalised learning for young people.
“In education we often debate the current role of the teacher. I think it is safe to say the teacher should be a facilitator and students are expected to own their learning.
“To accomplish this, project based learning will be used.”