"I have never before stood in front of people to talk, but now here I am today and I can do this because I have learnt about leadership. And now I am leading." - Tembalethu Mininye, Grade 11
Tembalethu is one of our stars. He has shown leadership this year not just through his words, but in countless small, selfless actions that show his commitment to academic success - not just for himself, but for his peers at Ekukhuleni and his high school. This year has been full of opportunities for students and teachers to grow as leaders - in the science lab, on the sports field and in the classroom - and this newsletter touches on a few. Our country desperately needs these "leaders-in-waiting" to move their peers, colleagues and schools towards a different and better future.
For many of us, school camps and sport were an integral part of our education. Our incoming matric (grade 12) class have just returned from two days of adventure challenges, goal-setting and personal reflection, on a leadership camp hosted by Mbolompo Homestay. This was a radical experience for most of them - well outside anything familiar to them - and should serve as invaluable preparation for the year ahead. Our Facebook page has more examples of students learning to lead on camp and at sports events on the beach
Most schools here finish exams in early November, after which no learning takes place. We estimate that between six and eight weeks of invaluable teaching time is lost through similar planning issues throughout the year. So it was rewarding to see the Ekukhuleni students on our final Boot Camp of the year diligently navigate their way through organic chemistry and inverse functions until the 9th of December, knowing that most of their peers had long since put their books away for the year. We trust that over time their example will start to spread to their friends and teachers.
Our year is ending with a flurry of planning for 2012. Michelle met with a group of junior school maths teachers to map out a series of "learning events" for their fledgling network next year. We find most of the maths issues that our high school students battle with can be traced back to gaps from much earlier, so this will be an important group of teachers going forward. Similar planning processes are being undertaken by the two Physical Science networks and by our own, growing Zithulele-based team. We're very excited to welcome Mfundo Ntobongwana and Isabelle Giddy to the organisation next year and look forward to seeing their considerable talents put to work in shaping young lives!
When Axium first started, we expected that quite quickly most of our funding would come from SA's corporate sector, which should see some value in the science and maths pipeline we are creating. For whatever reason, this has been slower to materialise than we thought and so, in reflecting on the immense year we've had, we must thank the many smaller, steady donations from generous individuals. You have enabled so many students and teachers to move forward as leaders in their particular contexts - thank you.
We can't wait to adventure with you into the unknown of 2012!
Blessings for the festive season
Craig, Michelle and the Axium Team