Delta Primary is Big on Care and Support

I love visiting Delta Primary School. The latest visit is to determine whether the school is on track with their planning re their temporary re-location. Delta was one of the schools identified for a makeover by the Department of Education. The prefabricated block of classrooms will be demolished. The irony is that Delta was recently given a makeover of that very prefab block by YPO who had selected the school as their South African beneficiary in 2011. When the school heard that they were identified as an ASIDI school, they contacted Gabby (YPO) and between the two parties, they decided to have a few trees removed and donated to another place of need.  The new Delta is going to have a school hall, a library and a Grade R wing – a dream come true for Bridget and her staff.

A snapshot of Bridget, the Head of the school
Bridget, always with a smile and note the colourful timetable  permutations for 2013 on the desk!

Bridget is one of the most caring principals I know and having been principal at Delta for yonks, she knows her community extremely well. Most times I  would hear some horror stories of how the evils of drugs, prostitution and child abuse in the worst forms, amongst others, form the backbone of the community our children are growing up in.  There are days when Bridget would just request a hug from me, feeling drained after another horror that unfolded with one of her children. Then she would share the sadness and the plans to help the children or the mother who are the latest victims and we would move on. During all this time Bridget would rave about her staff and her concern for them who often felt overwhelmed by the huge task of being carer, social worker, teacher, health worker,mother, father, sister – the roles are endless.  Research documents these multi-faceted contextual constraints on schools and the learner performance and yet, there seems to be a total disregard for these realities when the performance of schools is measured on the league tables.

The Jacobs daughters arrange a holiday with a difference for Mom and Dad
Bridget and Sister Gwyn who is also an HOD at the school. Bridget still manages to churn out a smile while she takes a call

For the first time in four years - during my visit to the school last month, Bridget spent almost a 2 -hour session telling me about her family, her daughters. I am fascinated to hear that Bridget and her husband have been gifted with a holiday by their children. The interesting part is Bridget and hubby do not know where they are going to. They were just told to reserve the days and pack their bags. Every week Bridget is given a cryptic clue which she and Cupid have to work out – similar to a treasure hunt. How cool! Even Gwyn, Bridget’s sister does not know the destination because her nieces do not trust her to keep the secret.

The visit takes on interesting dynamics
Rashida who has just brought documents to be signed find herself in a  learning community space.

So today we sit and chat about school readiness and relocation logistics – checking whether the school is on track with their disposal process, whether storage arrangements of everything are in place and whether their timetabling for 2013 is organized. Yes, Bridget says, they have 3 timetable permutations, a recycling company will place a container at the school in the week and all teachers have committed to returning for the new school year a week earlier.  Now, doesn’t this smack of commitment and excellent organization?
Rashida, who has popped in to bring along forms for me to sign, join us for our fruit salad and yoghurt spread – compliments of Gwyn, and Rashida leaves there armed with new knowledge and a commitment by Gwyn to help her with the school budgetary process.

My lifelong learning journey gets another jumpstart 

I will forever stand in awe of my colleagues like Bridget. The system is often cold and calculated, forgetting that it is because of social carers like Bridget that make it possible for real learning still to take place. Perhaps one day the scales will fall off sufficiently to acknowledge the profound role of our foot soldiers to help heal broken communities.


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