From Conflict to Unity at Bwitereke School
“Before Wellspring’s training, we were divided. Even though we were all one school, we separated ourselves.”
Welcome to Bwitereke School. Here, teachers wander through crowded rows of students, checking on their work, and enthusiastic calls of “flowers”—a Wellspring-trained encouragement technique—echo through the schoolyard. In the staff room, teachers share lunch as they talk through the lessons they have planned for the rest of the week, learning from each other’s experiences and skills. Through it all, the air buzzes with a spirit of camaraderie.
But Bwitereke School didn’t used to be this way. Instead of being an open space of collaboration and learning, the school was a place of hostility and distrust.
Bwitereke School is a Groupe Scolaire, which means it houses both a primary and secondary section. While this can lead to wonderful collaboration between all levels of learning, this wasn’t the case at Bwitereke. Years of distrust had festered between the two sections. Instead of educators supporting one another and sharing ideas, they sought out ways to tear each other down. Primary and secondary school teachers refused to even eat lunch together.
With resentment underlining every interaction, the quality of education suffered and kids paid the price in their learning. Teachers didn’t plan their lessons and sometimes wouldn’t even show up to class. They relied upon harmful discipline tools, such as physical punishment, which led to deep fear in their students and discouraged learning. When educators don’t have a zeal for teaching, are disconnected from colleagues, and don’t understand the weight and honour attached to the role of educating the next generation, students miss out on all school should offer.
But this all changed when Bwitereke’s head teacher attended a series of Wellspring trainings that empower school leaders to be trust builders, team builders, and servant leaders.
Eager to share all he had learned from Wellspring, the head teacher returned to Bwitereke determined to cultivate a positive environment that would empower teachers to build supportive relationships with one another. Using the techniques he had learned through the training sessions, the head teacher set up regular staff meetings between primary and secondary teachers—and the results were incredible.
Now with a space to share their experiences, teachers reconciled the years of strife that had plagued Bwitereke School and began building healthy relationships based on trust. Immediately, this new sense of community had ripple effects throughout the school. Instead of tearing each other down, teachers began supporting one another, sharing feedback, encouragement, resources, and advice.
With a culture of peer learning growing at the school, teachers started to re-evaluate their techniques in the classroom. Teachers who once used sticks to discipline students now offer words of encouragement instead. This switch from negative punishment to positive praise has transformed the learning experience for children. Instead of being afraid to come to school, kids are now excited about their lessons and aren’t afraid to make mistakes that will help them learn.
“I am a better teacher now,” said one Bwitereke teacher. “Instead of beating and using harsh words to my students, I am friends with my learners. Students do not fear to approach me like before. Instead, they freely seek my advice and support on lessons.”
The transformation at Bwitereke School is undeniable, and it all stems back to effective and healthy leadership. When the head teacher recognized that he needed to posture himself as a servant leader and approach his vital role with a heart of service, trust, and encouragement, the teachers were quick to follow his example. When educators come together in community to show each team member that they are valued, schools thrive. And when schools thrive, children get the chance to receive the quality values-based education they deserve.
Wellspring exists to play a role in the transformation of schools like Bwitereke. We believe in equipping leaders and teachers with the tools and skills to strengthen their schools, which means working together to help them understand their role and focus on what is important: providing a quality education for the next generation.
And all this is only possible because of you!
Your support funded that very training that inspired Bwitereke’s head teacher, but there is still so much more to be done. Unengaged leaders and cultures of distrust are heavily present in schools across East Africa. Will you partner with us to equip more leaders and teachers to bring transformation to their schools and communities?