The Story of Randell


Teach with Africa 2009 Fellow, Jennifer Woodall, tells the story of Randell.  (Note:  The LEAP Schools is Teach with Africa’s partner in South Africa)

“I connected with a young man in Grade 9 and I really want to tell you his story.

I met Randell on his first day of my week-long ‘Art and Math’ workshop.  As we were doing the art projects we talked for about two hours–well, he really talk for the two hours.  He told me about how much he loves art, and that they do not always offer it and how he wished they did at LEAP 2 (LEAP 2, opened in January 2007, serves the communities of Gugulethu and Crossroads).  He told me how he loves to draw and draws almost every night.  He asked if it was okay if he came the next day and showed me his artwork.

To be truthful, I really thought that he would forget, but there was Randell the next day with his artwork in hand to show me.  As he gave me the artwork, he told me that he does not show his work to many people. A tear formed in my eye at that moment.  I looked at his work and we discussed each cartoon character he drew, and why he picked them and then it was time to go. We stood up and he gave me this HUGE hug…boys in Grade 9 don’t hug, well at least the ones I know. He told that he would see me on Monday.

Monday morning during the school-wide community meeting at LEAP, this young man stands up and starts talking about the workshops the previous week. It was Randell, and he let his fellow students know how much he enjoyed the workshops, especially art, and the students who chose not to come to workshop really missed out.  Randell found me that morning and said “Thank you.”

Randell:  Now a top Grade 9 student at LEAP

Randell: Now a top Grade 9 student at LEAP

On Tuesday morning, I was paired up with a grade 9 class and Randell was a student in class and I asked him if it would be okay if I shadowed him for the day. He told me it was his pleasure to be my guide.  I was honored to be able to spend the day with him, watching him learn and be an active learner in all his classes.

Wednesday, I met Eric, the math teacher, and I made a comment about how much I really have enjoyed my time with Randell and Eric told me this story about him:

Randell was not accepted to LEAP 2 at first, because he did not pass the entrance exam, not once but twice.  Randell did not accept that answer — he did not accept, not being accepted.  He came to LEAP 2 and told, or rather explained to the principal why he was a perfect LEAP 2 student.  He pleaded with the principal for hours, explaining why he needed to be at LEAP and why he deserved to be at LEAP. Randell took the entrance exam for a third time and barely passed it.

Randell is now one of the TOP grade 9 students at LEAP 2 and one the nicest gentlemen that you will ever meet–you can ask any of his teachers at LEAP.  I feel so lucky to have met Randell, and I know that meeting him has changed my life. I want to thank Teach with Africa for allowing me to have this experience. Randell is the kid that gets you out of bed in the morning because you want to have teachable moments with him.  Randell, to me, is LEAP! I cannot wait to hear about all the great things Randell is going to do with LEAP and more importantly what LEAP is going to do for Randell.”

Jennifer with her students

Jennifer with her students

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