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Miss Izzy’s Schoolhouse

Mary Isabel Powery (1910-1984), affectionately known as Miss Izzy, was one of Cayman’s important single women who made significant contributions to the advancement of local society through education.

Her career spanned nearly six decades but began more humbly as an assistant to Teacher Hill. In 1929, she opened her own private schoolhouse, a small wattle and daub building not far from her own home, where she taught local school children. Although Government schools had started to operate from around 1921, many parents still preferred to send their children to smaller neighbourhood private schools to which they had grown accustomed.

At Miss Izzy’s Schoolhouse, there was a strong focus on both academic success and discipline. Many practical, real life lessons were taught. She also often recited the poem:

Labour for learning before you grow old
For learning is better than silver or gold
Silver and gold will vanish away
But a good education will never decay.

Miss Izzy was said to have had a heart of gold due to the kindness and charity she extended to those who could not always afford classes or after-school care for their children. At the time, her weekly fee was three pence, and later increased to CI$1.00.

During her profession, she was greatly assisted by her niece, Florence Tatum, and her sister, Ivy Virginia Powell. It is interesting to note all three women had no children of their own and were spinsters.

Miss Izzy’s Schoolhouse was donated to the Trust in 1999 by Ivy Powell. Unfortunately, the home was extensively damaged following the passage of Hurricane Ivan in 2004; at the time, the schoolhouse was well over 100 years.