John W., a 2016 Christel House Academy South graduate shares his Christel House experience.
“My journey at Christel House Academy, a charter school on the Southside of Indianapolis, began 14 years ago. That’s right. I’ve spent my entire educational career at one school. Of course, I had the opportunity to go to different schools, but my decision to remain at Christel House has without a doubt been one of the best decisions I could have ever made. My experiences here helped me grow and shape me into the man I’m becoming.
Christel House Academy is like no other school. It was founded with four core values in mind: respect, responsibility, integrity and independence. Our teachers work each day to ensure we live those values, and in my opinion, that’s what sets us apart. I’ve had several personal challenges in my life, but with the help of the teachers at Christel House Academy, I’ve been able to overcome them. One day in school, we had just come back into our classrooms after lunch and I sat down at my table and began crying my eyes out. I was hurt and felt abandoned. All of my classmates saw me crying and came to my rescue. At Christel House Academy we believe it's our responsibility to take care of each other, and that’s exactly what we do every day.
While our teachers hold us to extremely high academic standards, they also make sure we’re taken care of. My teachers even visited my home as a way to get to know me and my family. Also, we don’t have parent-teacher conferences, we actually lead our own conferences. Our teachers are there, but we do all the talking and explaining. We have to be able to explain our strengths and weaknesses in every class in such a way that our parents understand it, and it must be an accurate representation of who we are as students. My mother really appreciates the opportunity to hear me share what I’m learning. It helps her know that I really am being taken care of at Christel House Academy.
As for my future, I know I want to become a registered nurse and look forward to beginning college in the fall. I love helping others, and I think that has been instilled in me while at Christel House. Last summer, I had an opportunity to travel to Swaziland, South Africa with an organization that organizes trips for students. During the trip, we learned about HIV and AIDS in Swaziland. This experience opened my eyes to the world.
I wouldn’t change anything about my high school experience. I learned a lot about myself, how to persevere through challenging circumstances, and the beauty of giving back. I am grateful to my teachers at Christel House Academy, as they have set me on a path to success. I’m excited about what lies ahead."
Your support of Christel House Academy is helping students, like John, prepare for a bright future. With resources to visit and apply for college, you are eliminating roadblocks for these students on their ‘path to success.’ Thank you for your generosity.
This month, Nontando, a 2009 Christel House South Africa graduate, has been sharing her inspiring Christel House story in a 3-part update.
In case you missed her earlier updates: Nontando Update (Part 1 of 3): Nontando: Growing up in the Township Nontando Update (Part 2 of 3): Nontando: How Christel House Impacted My Life
(Part 3 of 3)
I am currently working at Chevron Refinery, which is based in Cape Town, South Africa. I am an Environmental Specialist which means I am responsible for ensuring our waste facilities are operating correctly. I track and audit the quality of groundwater at the refinery, schedule hazard assessments, provide field oversight for groundwater consultants and oversee contractor safety.
Outside of work, I am married to a wonderful husband whom I met at the University. He is a good man who has helped me grow and further develop my character and work towards my dreams. I am furthering my studies and working towards a second degree—a Bachelor of Technology in Quality Management, at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. I also serve at our church in the ladies’ leadership ministry.
My life is very different from the girls I grew up with. Many of them became teenage mothers which resulted in them dropping out of school to support their children. Some were exposed to gangs and became involved in drugs. Some have even died from drug and alcohol abuse. Others were forced to find work because their parents passed away and they needed to provide for their younger siblings.
I look at their lives and know I was just steps from where they are now. I could have been another statistic to teenage pregnancy, drugs, unemployment, etc. Growing up in an environment where there were no role models could have steered my life in the same direction. But because of Christel House, I look at my life now and realize how fortunate I am to have been given such a great opportunity to break those chains in my life.
Seeing how my life could have ended, was a great motivation. Seeing the world through the spectacles given at Christel House, NOW that made me work harder, sacrifice and reach for my dreams.
For children with statistically bleak futures, your support of Christel House South Africa opens the door to a brighter outcome. Your investment is so important to the lives of our students. We cannot do it without you. Thank you.
This month, Nontando, a 2009 Christel House South Africa graduate, is sharing her journey from shanty town to Chemical Engineer. If you missed part 1 of her update, you can read it here: Nontando: Growing up in the Township
(Part 2 of 3)Christel House transformed my life by breaking the cycle of poverty I was born into. It did not give me a fish to eat but taught me how to fish in order to be sustained for a long time through a free, quality education. I quote Tata Nelson Mandela, “Education is the greatest engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm worker can become the president of a country, for education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” The quality education that Christel House freely gave changed life for me, the daughter of a domestic worker.
It was not only the quality education I received at Christel House, but character building and values were instilled from a very young age. I learned the true meaning of Respect, Responsibility, Integrity and Independence—the Christel House core values. I use these values daily in my job at Chevron as I relate to colleagues and rise to the challenges of my work.
My life was greatly impacted by Christel House through teachers who loved and cared for me and my classmates. My life was really paved with a brighter and more meaningful future. At times, my teachers even opened their homes so that I could study in a peaceful, safe environment. When my mom passed, I was in my second year of university studying Chemical Engineering. It was hard. Yes, my dad was there, but she was the bread winner and my emotional support. Who was going to support me like she did? One of my professors even suggested I take a break from my studies and return the following year. The day following my mother’s funeral, my dad took me to the train station to go back to class. Although I was already at university, I do not think I could have gone through that period of my life without the support from Christel House staff who became surrogate mothers for me. They supported me emotionally, spiritually and even financially.
Christel House changed my life by opening doors for me when I had absolutely nothing to offer. I arrived in 2002 as a below average student, could not speak English and was very shy. I graduated in 2009 as the first valedictorian of Christel House South Africa. My school planted a seed in my life, watered and nurtured it through all my years at Christel House, during university and even now through career and life guidance.
I was fortunate to have opportunities which I never thought possible. I was able to travel to the USA, where I learnt leadership skills, developed self-confidence and met friends from all over the world. I was able to participate in extramural activities, like the school choir, public speaking, sports and art.
Not only did Christel House impact my life, but my family’s too. My parents had access to monthly programs ranging from budgeting to health and wellness. Through it all, hope was raised for a better tomorrow.
Thank you for your support of Christel House South Africa students. Check your inbox soon for Part 3 of Nontando’s story.