A Phone Call With The Head Teacher of E.P. Bihungwe School

This is part one of a three-part series of exclusive interviews from stakeholders of E.P. Bihungwe school. Stay tuned for parts two and three.

Like the rest of the world, Rwanda has been jumping from one lockdown to another over the past 16 months. In short, schools have been closed for more time than they’ve been open. Families have been confined to their homes, businesses have been temporarily closed, and students have been forced to learn at home with the guidance of radio or TV lessons (where accessible). Our trainers—who typically spend 80% of their time supporting leaders, parents, and teachers face-to-face—had to shift and find creative solutions to support our partner school communities while upholding safety and respecting guidelines. 

If you know our team, you’d know that they say, “We are not coming down!”. This mantra has taken on even more significance in the context of continuous lockdowns.

Although trainers haven’t been able to go to the field, visit parents, run training, and offer support and feedback to teachers like they once did, they have been leveraging technology. They have been connecting with stakeholders—parents, teachers, and school leaders—over the phone and WhatsApp. Our team has not come down, nor have they left partner schools alone to navigate the challenges this season brought.

One of these schools is E.P. Bihungwe. You may recognize Bihungwe, the school Charity* attends, one of the key students in this year’s Gala Film. Our team had a phone call with Head Teacher Judith to get a pulse on how the school has been during the months since our Gala. Hear straight from Judith as she shares about her joys of being a Head Teacher, the challenges of the pandemic, and her hopes for the future of her school.

Can you tell us a little bit about the school?

EP Bihungwe has 629 students and a total of 19 teachers. 

What do you love most about your job as Head Teacher of Bihungwe?

As the head teacher of this school, I have been supporting the school through my leadership skills, and what I have enjoyed most about my job is the unity we have in our school. We work together in close collaboration with our teachers and our students for a common goal. I am happy with the smooth work we do at school.   

What was your leadership style before Wellspring?

I have been a Deputy Head Teacher for years, and I have always been flexible and cooperative in nature. During this difficult time, I have learned many things from our School Leader, and one of the things is to look back at our vision and the goals we set, listen, and always seek feedback from my colleagues.

What was the biggest lesson you learned from Wellspring training?  How have you used it in your leadership?

As I look back at my time in training with Wellspring I have learned to be a visionary leader. I have learned to plan ahead, engage my colleagues in different activities. Being able to act as a school leader is proof that delegation is a strong trait we have at our school. 

How has your staff responded or transformed as a result?

My ability to delegate and build into my staff has brought a strong team of teachers who are punctual, committed, unified, and ready to support one another. I have mostly appreciated the training on setting strategic direction by looking at our school’s vision, mission, and objectives. I have enjoyed the training on school mentors and teacher multipliers. This training has supported the school to continue the race towards our vision.

What has been the biggest challenge as a leader or as a school during the pandemic?

The biggest challenge we have faced during this pandemic has been the numerous interruption of the lessons for students. As a result, this has affected the learners and has brought a sense of discouragement among our student’s future. We see students who are not ready to return to school even when the lockdown is over, which will impact their learning. 

What are you looking forward to as you think of the future, and how have you appreciated and/or implemented Wellspring training?

We are planning to improve the teaching and learning, especially with the new classrooms that have been built. These classrooms are enough to accommodate all students. We have a school feeding program, and we aim to reach the quality of education that sees every child succeed. 

We aim to provide quality education; our school must be among the first schools in the district. We have appreciated Wellspring training on setting the strategic direction (setting the vision, mission, and objectives), the training of the school mentors, and teacher multipliers. Therefore this has supported the school to continue the race towards our vision.

With Head Teacher Judith leading Bihungwe to success, we can’t wait to see all the school will accomplish! While an incredible team is leading the students, there is more to be done in their pursuit of quality education. Will you come alongside E.P. Bihungwe to help them reach their goal and push them past the finish line?

It is through the ongoing support of our Monthly School Partners that Bihungwe can continue on towards its goal of ensuring that every student is met with a quality education. As a Monthly School Partner, you have the unique opportunity to inspire transformation in the life of Head Teacher Judith and the 19 teachers and 629 students at Bihungwe! Sign up as a School Partner today to partner with Bihungwe in their journey.

Head here for part two of this interview series to meet and hear
Teacher Multiplier Noel!