Summary of the Summer Fellows' work

 
Caught in a relaxed moment

Caught in a relaxed moment

Margie and Amy,

We’re coming to the end of Teach With Africa’s first period of work in schools and communities of Cape Town. It suddenly seems to be upon us that everybody is leaving and now we become more aware of the enormous work that has been done by each of the fellows of Teach With Africa.

Yesterday we had another staff meeting where three Teach With Africa fellows addressed the meeting and once again challenged and excited the staff of the LEAP Science and Maths Schools to be more creative, more in touch, more innovative and more aware. What a gift to hear Laura and Chrissy work together in a presentation that focussed on appropriate classroom skills and management techniques to optimize the full range of emotional styles and learning styles of students. They worked us through a workshop in which we identified our own learning styles and this was extremely valuable for all the teachers of both schools 1 and 2.

Suzie also had a short input focussing on what she called “the thirstiness” of the people that she’d encountered both in the schools at LEAP and the schools in the community and also young people in the community of Kalkfontein and other entrepreneurs with whom she has worked. She encouraged staff to feed into this thirstiness, to be aware of it and to be available both in the classroom and out of the classroom to capitalize on the energy and the determination of all the people with whom she had been in contact in the various projects that she has been involved.

This weekend sees many activities at the schools and in the communities and Teach With Africa’s role in so many of them is so evident. We have parent meetings on Saturday morning. We have a concert in the afternoon, co-ordinated by, amongst others, Alison, and assisted by the rest of the Teach With Africa team. We have a Past Students Association meeting with the Grade 12 students. Again, these ideas were formed with Teach With Africa Green MBA input. There is the national framework in operation. Laura, networking, spending time with Kevin from Teach South Africa at LEAP. There are various documents and proposals being refined relating to a whole range of educational activities and educational frameworks. We hope and believe that all of this work will make a huge contribution as our country struggles to make sense of the educational mess which history has created.

So, it is with sadness and excitement that we start to say goodbye. The sadness is the energy and team-work and commitment leaves us in the short term but the excitement is that the projects and the ideas that have been generated remain with us and present all kinds of opportunities as we go forward.

Each of the Teach With Africa fellows has brought a different emphasis and a different focus into the schools.

The psyche students have worked on different projects and have chosen to work outside of the Life Orientation framework quite sensibly and have worked on developing and refining documents that will really be helpful for both Teach With Africa and LEAP.

Alison left us at the beginning of this last week and her departure seemed to come so quickly. As we reflect on the work that she did while she was here, again it is clear that she engaged directly with the needs of LEAP and of LEAP’s unfolding roles. She supported Chrissy very directly and she reflected through that process with us. She got into the classrooms, assisted in many of them and brought many new ideas into the classrooms. She was very happy to play a role in documenting and beginning processes of documentation with regard to pre-schools in this country. She was also a networker as she looked for opportunities to link the pre-schools to health support systems and also connected LEAP, particularly, with a Philip educational framework that is emerging as an outstanding model of pre-school education as well as skills development in a community. This connection will become a partnership and will be empowering for all parties concerned. We were sorry to say goodbye to her so early.

Lindsay has been working with the primary school, really trying to get under the skin of what happens in the Life Orientation framework of primary schools in South Africa and contrasting and comparing with what is happening in the LEAP Schools and making recommendations around this research. Her passion and intense commitment are quite inspiring and very encouraging.

Brian has been looking very closely at the admissions policies to the LEAP Schools. He is documenting them as they stand. He is reflecting the changes as we implement them and he is making proposals to take that process forward. His commitment and follow through in this area – strong and determined.

Elizabeth has been working in the community of Kalkfontein and working with a small group of young people willing to engage as care-givers in the community and she has been working simply on enabling them to network, to define and understand a role and to take the risk of supporting each other using a very simple group framework. This to me is very exciting and ground-breaking work.

Brian and Elizabeth have also been involved with specific clients in the REALISTIC project where they have now been seeing four clients each and I think have begun to understand and bring value to the incredibly challenging framework of REALISTIC.

The role of the Green MBAs I have referred to previously, their capacity to multi-task and to focus on many issues in parallel and to bring a new framework and new language into our landscape has been enormous.

John’s sincerity and war commitment have been inspiring – his highly principled sustainability language and framework will stay with us when he leaves.

Emily’?s beautiful idealism balanced by an incredible sense of system and the connectedness of all parts of system, has really been valuable in many, many contexts.

Suzie’?s energy and willingness to support and willingness to initiate and take on many tasks and many elements within tasks, has been exemplary.

Jack has done what we call ?deep hanging out? and has been an incredibly positive and accurate mirror for Teach With Africa fellows as well as for the leadership of the LEAP Science and Maths Schools. His gentleness and his insight and his patience have been clearly in evidence.

Kelly has got more hours of film than I think he ever anticipated he would have and he is beginning to clarify a number of possibilities arising out of the footage that he has. Obviously, he is determined to make a short film that will be very useful in the American context with Teach With Africa as a fundraiser. He is also determined to provide for us a short motivational DVD that reflects the power and hope and actions of LEAP and he has agreed that in all that footage he will also identify a range of presentations, inputs that can be captured and possibly used in training of teachers, in sharing of their ideals and consolidating some of the things that we do. His excitement in his engagement with people has been inspiring and his determination to get the right angle, the right words and the right context has also been exciting to watch.

I’ve referred to Laura’s role and she represents for me, one of the most connected human beings with whom I’ve worked and somebody who really understands the power of linking people and remains a humble agent within that framework, allowing the connections to take their own course. She is observant. She is engaged at the micro-level of LEAP as well as the macro-level of this country and I think has been excited by the various roles but has also brought excitement to both of those frameworks.

And so, Margie and Amy, things really couldn’t be better. That we have established a foundation on which to build in the future, is clear. That there are challenges that we will have to address both at LEAP and in Teach With Africa frameworks in San Francisco, is clear, but that great strength has been brought to this process in Cape Town and the surrounds, is also very clear.

I look forward to getting written feedback, verbal feedback next week and to go quickly into the planning space for your fundraiser on the 12 February to further funding plans and to setting some clear objectives, goals, expectations for phase 2 of Teach With Africa and LEAP in whatever form that should evolve and develop.

Mike Rettburg has written to me excitedly about various impacts that he has already made on his own school environment as a result of his visit and also has let me know about the kind of discussions that you have had together regarding purchasing a house in Cape Town, regarding occupational therapists coming to Cape Town and with regard to just taking this programme to its next level and possibly Mike returning to Cape Town to work here for a slightly longer period, possibly a year or two.

All of this is exciting, hope producing and very fulfilling.

Thank you to Teach With Africa for the risks you have taken as individuals and collectively. Thank you for the faith that you have placed in this country and specifically in the LEAP frameworks. Thank you for the friendship and partnering as we have done this together.

Stay well

John

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