As most of you know, Arise purchased some land in Ngombe Compound in April of this year. The goal is to be build our own school on the property where students from Grace School will attend. On the property is a house with 8 rooms and a kitchen. Until we are able to build a new school on the property, we will have school in this house. It may not sound glamorous, but it's a step up from the tiny building these students were previously in and it will serve us well during this transition period.
We've talked to several students who are very excited for the new school! There will be lots more space in the classrooms and especially outside for playing. Whenever we come to the house to work, we find students have followed us. They read books from our library, braid hair on the back porch, or just spend time with each other playing and talking. I caught these two girls just the other day doing cartwheels outside the window of the grade 6 class.
In the last month, several hands have worked hard to move everything from the old school to the new one, paint walls, clean house, paint chalk boards, move in new supplies such as desks and textbooks, and set up classrooms.
We have been busy this last week preparing for school to start back up on Monday. We have hired enthusiastic and skilled teachers and held a two day training for them.
On day 1, we gathered all the new teachers to meet with Monica (country director), Fidelis (headmaster), Solomon (Child Sponsorship Director), Sadia (Teaching/leadership coach) and me (the intern who everyone thinks is a journalist because I take a lot of notes and pictures).
In the meeting, Monica explained more about Arise Africa, Fidelis laid out some things about the new school, and Solomon explained child sponsorship. The classroom couldn't contain the enthusiasm of the group! I enjoyed listening as these three explained everything Arise. It served as a reminder of the big picture of what God is doing in Zambia and how he is using Arise Africa to change lives.
I was very encouraged during the training because everyone was so enthusiastic about this opportunity to start fresh. The headmaster, Fidelis, and the teachers especially have an opportunity to set the atmosphere at the school. Our goal is to have Arise Christian School be a warm and welcoming place for everyone who walks through our doors, including parents and visitors. We want everyone to encourage one another to have a strong work ethic, which starts with teachers being prepared for class and eager to give their best for their students. Those were the main things I got out of the meeting, but we have several goals as a group that go toward providing the child with the best education we can and equipping them with life skills, and most importantly, instilling in them a love for God and His word. Together we are an enthusiastic group who love children, love God, and are willing to work hard. Big things ahead!
It was great to have Sadia join us for the training as well. Sadia is staying with friends in Zambia and had hopes of working in community schools while she was here. She was a teacher in the UK. After some years as a teacher, she shifted her focus to teacher/leadership training. She heard about Arise through the family she is staying with as they are directors at Pestalozzi Education Center, where our Arise Home kids attend school. What a blessing that she would come to Zambia right as we are opening a new school! I'm constantly amazed by the Lord's provision for Arise. If I were to explain her using her own vocabulary, I'd say she's "bloody brilliant". She has a lot of experience in the classroom and has provided us with a lot of helpful information and tips. She is very passionate about teaching and has fallen in love with our kids here in Zambia! Grateful to have her as part of our team while she's here.
It was encouraging to see all the teachers gather around Sadia after the training to share what topics they would like to learn more about.
Day 2 of training was led by Sadia. I loved listening in on the training as they discussed how everything we do must revolve around the child. We talked about all the various needs a child has and what their role is as teachers. She and I had been talking the day before about the effect unmet emotional needs can have on a child's school performance. I was excited to see her discuss this with the teachers. I love that ACS will be a safe place where students will be provided with everything they need to succeed.
For their first activity, they answered 8 questions that were scattered around the room. Some of the questions included, "What led you to become a teacher, what successful behavior management strategies have you tried, what support do you need from leadership" and so on. I think the teachers enjoyed reflecting on these questions and it was fun to see them draw on their strengths and learn from each other.
For the second half of their training, Sadia discussed how to prepare an outstanding lesson. It was clear that the teachers were eager to learn from her and were soaking up everything they could. After the training, Sadia spoke very highly of group. We all think we have some excellent teachers on our team. Praise God!
The first day of school couldn't come fast enough! We got their just in time to several of the kids walking to school. I missed these kids so much, it was great to see their smiling faces again.
When the kids arrived, the teachers lined them up according to grade. Several parents came with their kids and they gathered to watch the assembly nearby. We welcomed the kids, introduced teachers, parents asked questions, and we finished with a few worship songs of course.
One of my favorite aspects of Zambian culture is how much they love to sing and dance!
After the assembly, students piled into their new classrooms. I was very impressed as I walked around and sat in on the classes. Teachers were creative and engaging and students were eager, attentive, and stinkin' adorable!
Meet the teachers and their students!
Lots of people worked hard to make today a success! Thank you to all our donors, staff, and volunteers. I'm humbled to have seen all the work that goes into running a school. These kids are worth every minute and penny!
To God be the glory!