Many of you will be aware of our Care-to-Learn programmes that give the boys exposure to, and a deeper awareness of, the plight of others less fortunate than ourselves. It takes the form of various of community outreach initiatives that serve to focus attention on serving, supporting and/or caring for children in other parts of our broader community.
Every now and then, it is important to remind the boys that a Learning-to-Care attitude ought to be felt and demonstrated first and foremost here at The Ridge. As is sometimes the case, it takes a shock tactic or two to get the message home.
We have become increasingly concerned about the state of classrooms at the end of a school day. This is particularly the case in the majority of Senior Primary classrooms. No matter what measures members of staff are putting into place, so many boys simply have no appreciation of the need to take responsibility for the state of their daily working spaces. It is normally left almost entirely to our amazing housekeeping staff to clean and tidy up after the boys every day. Sad to say, this is developing, in so many of our young lads, a very laisse faire and entitled habit of mind.
During this past week our housekeeping ladies were instructed to only empty dustbins and to clean up outside the respective classrooms but otherwise to leave each room in the state in which that they found them each afternoon. The resulting reaction, observations and responses from the boys has proven to be most enlightening. These have ranged from, ‘What’s happened? Why is no one cleaning our classroom?’ to ‘Wow, this is a bit embarrassing. Let’s do something about making sure that we pay more attention to keeping our classrooms clean and tidy.’
We are hoping that some of the underlying messages received through the experience this past week will have registered in ways that will prompt the boys to take more care of and pride in their classroom spaces.
Along similar lines, it has come to our attention that some lads are seemingly incapable of going to the toilet without making a mess. Where our class teachers can certainly offer appropriate guidance to the boys, given the very personal nature of this sensitive matter, I would ask mums and dads to spend some time with your boys to make sure that the necessary levels of hygiene are understood and are being adhered to.
Salvazione Christian School
Still within the Care-to-Learn and Learning to Care theme, it has been a while since we brought parents up to speed with news, happenings and developments at one of our community partner schools, Salvazione. For those of you who might feel a little out of this particular loop, a brief background is that, together with St Katharine’s and Auckland Park Primary, The Ridge School community has been supporting the children of Salvazione for some fifteen years. This support comes in a variety of ways, some of which will be elaborated on more fully hereunder.
Salvazione is situated within a desperately poor and impoverished part of Mayfair West and looks after a large number of children from, in particular, the Joe Slovo informal settlement area. The teachers from this amazing little school continue to bring learning, life and love into the lives of some 230 boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 14.
Recent developments at Salvazione:
- Mandy Bailey, headmistress for the past six years, resigned at the end of July this year in order to take up a new headship at another school in the area. Ms Bailey had done a wonderful job during that time to enlarge the school enrolment, to seek for the school to be given full membership of ISASA, and to expand the corporate advocacy support for the school which has resulted in some important donor partners coming alongside.
- As from the beginning of August, Sharon Walker has taken over the reins as the new headmistress. She has 32 years teaching experience and has been the headmistress at a Vuleka primary school for the past 9 years. She is a committed and excellent headmistress who is passionate about education.
In addition, it is good to report that Elsie Monyane, who has been teaching at Salvazione for some years, has been promoted to deputy headmistress and head of pastoral care.
- A number of our Ridge parents have been offering support in various ways again this past year: a number of mums help out with the teaching and tutoring of Salvazione children on given mornings each week; monthly cash donations are also being received by the School’s finance department, and one of our dads took it upon himself to source and arrange for the installation of a battery for alternative solar energy to be supplied to the school. This has had the effect of significantly reducing their monthly Eskom tariffs.
- Earlier this year, following a very generous donation from one of the School’s corporate partners, the Salvazione trustees gave the green light for the purchase of an adjacent house and property. At a recent Board Meeting trustees were informed that the same company is prepared to spend a sizable amount of money in order to help with the upgrade and renovating of the existing building with a view to it becoming the School’s new Junior Primary facility.
This same project has been earmarked by our Centenary Committee as being the one to which next year’s Centenary funding will be directed.
- Two of our PA committee reps, Ijeoma Solarin and Smeeta Devchand, have done wonders in kick-starting a Salvazione Tour for Parents The idea behind these visits is to provide mums and dads with a firsthand ‘where, what and who’ experience of the School. The tours are conducted by Sharon Brownlee, chairperson of the board and highlight all the great work being done by the School as well as allowing Sharon to share something of their future dreams and direction.
Two tours have been conducted so far, both during September, and Ijeoma and Smeeta are looking at conducting two more before the end of the year – on Wednesday 31st of October and Thursday 8th November. Open invitations have gone out earlier this week.
Parents are encouraged to get involved as it is hoped that a personal Salvazione experience will make it all that much more real and particularly given that monies raised through major Centenary fundraising next year will be directed towards their new Junior Primary upgrade project.
A Final Word:
In the wonderland set aside for our littlest Ridge lads – our Grade 0, Early Childhood Development space – so much of their learning-for-life happens through play. Two recently acquired activity centres have served to remind us of just how powerful the world of imagination can be for young boys who are only beginning to explore and test all that their young brains are eagerly reaching out for.
The pirate ship and a simple spec-designed mud kitchen are helping to stimulate and release some interesting, very natural, ‘imagination’ inspired responses from the boys.
Whilst spending a few minutes watching the boys at play, and in speaking to our specialist ECD teachers, I was reminded of the power of unfettered play and all that the world of imagination can offer children. This is particularly true in this high-tech age of immediate responses where all too often we as parents feel compelled to keep our children stimulated, busy and in touch with whatever the latest fad might be. It can often prove to be something of a reawakening experience for boys who have become too reliant on, in particular, device stimulation when they are faced with the joys of being able to tap into their own imaginations in order to help to pass the time. This can become especially real during the oodles of free time that the holidays bring upon them all.