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Recently appointed Sunrise Adult Training Centre Director Shari Smith (left) with outgoing Director Roberta Gordon.

Published 2nd November 2011, 3:52pm


After 21 years of service, Monday, 31 October marked the final day of Roberta Gordon's tenure as director at the Sunrise Adult Training Centre (SRC).

Having held the position since 1990, she is now enjoying retirement.  Her responsibilities have now been passed to incoming SRC Director Shari Smith.

Looking back fondly over her time at the Centre, Mrs. Gordon says she witnessed the SRC evolve from a small programme with a few special needs clients from West Bay, to a comprehensive programme for clients residing throughout the Cayman Islands.

She notes, "When I joined the Centre there were 14 clients and five staff members. Today, 17 staffers assist 57 clients...and that number is still growing."

She has also seen the Centre move from a small location in the teacher's cottage on the Sir John A. Cumber Primary School campus, to its current location on Powery Road in West Bay.

Under Mrs. Gordon, the Centre was enhanced with programmes including life skills training, music and art, vocational training and placement, and occupational therapy services.

At a policy level, she sat on steering committees and planning teams, all working to further the rights of persons living with disabilities. Her most recent involvement was with the Steering Committee for Planning the Future of Persons with Disabilities. Their mandate included proposing recommendations for a law which protects the rights of special-needs individuals.

Incoming SRC Director, Ms. Shari Smith, is no stranger to working with special needs individuals. She previously served as deputy principal and principal for the Lighthouse School.

Having recently completed her third master's degree - this one a clinical psychology qualification from Argosy University in Tampa, Florida - she is enthusiastic about her appointment, and committed to taking the Sunrise Adult Training Centre to new levels of service.

"I've always had a passion for working with persons with disabilities," Mrs. Smith noted, "I'm looking forward to working along with clients and their families, as well as staff and the Centre's many stakeholders."

Adding that there are still several individuals who are unable to benefit from the SRC's programme because of space and location challenges she said, "The numbers have increased immensely, literally outgrowing the space we have available."

As such, her priorities include revising programming and implementing relevant policies and procedures -- and future development of a purpose-built facility.

"We have an awesome opportunity to be a shining model of quality services for the disabled," she said. "As our clients transition from the Lighthouse School into our Centre, or into the world of work, we want to ensure that we are equipping them for the daily challenges they will face as adults within their communities."

Mrs. Smith's appointment comes just in time for the Sunrise Adult Training Centre's 25th anniversary celebration on 8 November. (GIS)