Back to School: Effective Leaders

For any school to succeed, it must be equipped with effective leaders. This is true in Canada, Rwanda, and throughout the world. Here in North America, we know that when we send our kids off to school, the principals will be looking out for their best interests. We trust that they have undergone rigorous training and post-secondary education that has equipped them to lead their schools and cultivate a team of teachers who will provide a quality education for our children.

This isn’t the case in Rwanda. While most head teachers truly care for their students, they simply have not received the necessary training to be able to grow their school communities into vibrant places of learning. Because of this, many schools in Rwanda fall into a dysfunction. Leaders are not leading, teachers are not teaching, and learners are not learning.

This is why the first step towards holistic school transformation comes from working with leaders. When leaders are on board and ready to rally around quality education, remarkable change can take place.

And that’s how the story began at G.S. Kagugu.

When Wellspring began our School Development Program in 2011, our trainers found G.S. Kagugu in a state of disarray. This all stemmed from a leadership team who did not trust one another and put their own desires ahead of the needs of the school. Instead of making plans for school improvement, they sought to prolong the corrupt environment from which they were benefitting. Wellspring knew that for our trainings to take root, the school leadership would need to have a change of heart.

That’s exactly what happened when a new head teacher was appointed.

Having experienced Wellspring’s training at another school, the new head teacher understood that the mark of a true leader is their servant heart, and that their success comes from the success of those they lead. With Wellspring’s support, he worked closely with the entire school leadership team to teach them about the importance of their actions upon the school community and help them adopt this servant attitude. With this new heart for serving the school, the leadership began to craft a plan for school improvement. They met with teachers to listen to their point of view, and opened their office to learners, parents, and local leaders to hear their stories. Using the skills taught by Wellspring, the school leadership crafted a healthy school environment, something that had been lacking for many years. Now, the leadership works closely with the teachers to show them they are valued. Instead of discouraging peer learning, teachers are encouraged to share their skills with one another and lesson plan together. The leadership also raised funds to buy phones for each teacher, which has helped immensely with the issue of miscommunication between teachers and parents. Now, communication flows easily from all levels in the school.

G.S. Kagugu is unrecognizable from the dysfunctional school that our trainers first saw in 2011. Leaders and teachers are collaborating, students are achieving excellent marks on exams, parents are passionately engaged, and it all stems back to the transformation of the leaders.

Change in the hearts of leaders brings about change in the lives of everyone, which is why it’s the first step towards creating a vibrant school community that sees all stakeholders thrive. Through our training modules, Wellspring helps leaders understand their responsibilities to their school community and walks them through creating school visions and plans for improvement. With your help as a School Partner, we can extend the transformation seen in G.S. Kagugu to other schools, such as G.S. Gisozi I. Just like Kagugu, this school is full of potential just waiting to be realized.