School Term 1 of 2013 is finally over, right?

Term 1 was going nowhere slowly

What a term! I suppose one can equate the first school term of the year to a steam train on steroids. Huffing and puffing we pulled ourselves along. My long camping experience became one massive blur as I tried to make sense of all the demands that came crashing down on me.

Even the weekends became like water stations on a long run: you grab the foam cup, let the water dribble down your chin, neck and bust all the while keeping to a slow, contorted walk or jog. Yes, I should know because somewhere in my heyday,I did the Spar walk and the Cape Times Walk then and all kinds of fun walk/runs. 

Technology vendetta

Then of course, technology played havoc with me as well, pushing up my fragile blood pressure to Mount Etna proportions. My aged laptop was rebelling and no amount of coaxing could get it to link me to the internet - my artery to communicate with all those I serve.I cannot be without e-connectivity if I want to be current, a useful resource - that is just how the job is, no matter what you may say.

Whenever I complained, my colleagues would listen with half an ear (often wondered if they were van Gogh descendants then) and then proceeded to chug along, heavily laden with administration, new deadlines and some new plan that was hatched and unceremoniously plonked on our overflowing plates. I resorted to social media as a lifesaver. Even my phone calls and e-mails from my school-based colleagues were down to a trickle. A few of them told me they just love the idea of my IT challenge and the shorter Whatsapp and bbm texts have proved to be less stressful!

Some solace - the rest of the world is also chasing pavements

I was chatting with my Kiwi friend, Yolanda, who makes the occasional telephone date with me. If I listen to Yolanda, it seems the rest of the world has also gone crackers.

 " Sharon, she says, I have had it with this obsession with data and stats. We are now becoming stuck with data analysis and then after yonks,we find out what we all know: just get down to the child's level and bond; build a relationship and get moving man..."

"Yep, "I chirp, "we know the story; we know who is taking so long to get it and it's definitely not the children."

Ernest Moore, Principal of Sullivan Primary, showing off Keagan's card

Visit to Sullivan Primary lifts my spirits

I know it is tough and I feel for my colleagues. Yet, as we bemoan the illogical rush to make sense of our lives, our foot soldiers at the schools are just merrily getting on with the job. I spent some time chatting to Ernest Moore, Principal of Sullivan the other day. While we were catching up on what has been happening at Sullivan Primary school, Ernest gives me a personalised invitation for our circuit team; we are invited to their school's Thanksgiving service to celebrate their golden anniversary.

The artwork on the card has been designed by Keenan Jacobs, a Grade 7b student - how cool. Then I am showed the other personalised cards made by the grade sevens. Ernest explains that each child was given the guest list and he (she) could choose which guest was going to be honoured with this personalised invitation. This very activity is not only a lifeskill, but also fits into the school's drive to increase the student's language and writing competence. I am also told that the school has twinned with Sweet Valley - a well-resourced school and the learners from Sweet Valley had gifted each of the Sullivan students with a handmade card and an easter egg.

Sullivan Primary is nestled right in the middle of a residential area.  Homes flank the boundaries of the school.  When the school holds an assembly, their neighbours can hear everything and some can even see the children from their kitchen windows. The school had experienced two burglaries in a row.  The suspect was probably living in the neighbourhood. When Ernest held an emergency assembly for the Grade 7s right at the spot where the burglary took place, amazing things happened.

Shortly after first interval, an unknown bag appeared at the far end of the fence.  On closer inspection, the bag contained the computer monitor that was stolen the night before. Despite the seriousness of the situation, I cracked up to hear how the goods were recovered. Somehow the assembly message was carried over the fence, through the houses and rested in the home with the stolen goods .My theory is that The thief must have heard the wrath spat out where he dallied the night before. He must have then plucked up the courage, lined the bottom of the bag with stolen wires from the school to cushion the monitor and delivered same soon after the school settled in their classrooms.

The 50th Annivery personalised invitations to be delivered to all the special guests who will join the school on 21 April for their Thanksgiving ceremony
The school visit is like a spritzer

This is the life at the coalface. While the learners are working hard at improving their circumstances, the tough, brokenness of the community rears its head by stealing from the very oasis that has been serving it faithfully for 50 years.  The strength of our schools lies in their understanding of this tension and so against all odds, they still try to change the landscape.

After spending more than 90 minutes at Sullivan, I rush out, thanking Ernest for once again, eliciting some raucous laughter from me, I then wish the IT technician well with reviving the school's web,challenge him to set up the blog which learners can manage and dart off to my car. Ernest and I agree that we will reserve the SIP discussion for the new term; today was catch-up day!

Now, during this term break, I am catching up with facebook, dabbling with the Ipad which still poses huge challenges and when the time is right, I will catch up with all those reports - ugh...


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