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Jan 9, 2017

Transitions- Class of 2016

Dear friends.

Let us join our hands in applauding the Class of 2016- Acres of Mercy Learning Centre.

Through myriad challenges they have persisted and succeeded.

Many fought through the challenge of limited resources at home, and family instability.

A few others fought through the stigma of low academic achievement in other schools, and a community whose idea of success is warped and limited to attaining high test scores.

Still they trudged on along, from the student who in 2009 as a young 6-year-old was admitted to the school. And the other fourteen who came in later with the last two being admitted in 2016 January.

It is the dream to see this girl and others like her complete school successfully that drove us to apply for a place on GlobalGiving in 2010.

Six years later, they have successfully completed this part of their life’s journey. Fifteen young lives. Nine (9) boys and six (6) girls- in some quarters this is 6 villagesJ.

Now I join my hands to thank you, for being a part of this incredible journey. Together, we took them through counselling sessions, we provided mentorship and guidance. We taught them life skills. We worked through math problems, wrote through essays, and practiced grammar. We ran the track fields together. We scored goals on the soccer pitch as they identified their skills and talents. We went after the few who almost gave up on school, visting their homes, we believed them when we should have disbelieved, we ate together and provided food when they were hungry. We cared and we gave hope...HOPE for a better future. And today, they are victorious.

Through the valleys and now we are on the mountain top of their first transition. Thank you for giving. Your gifts have surely given these young lives a head start in life. As they transition to secondary school, or technical school, we trust that the education we worked to bequeath them will serve them well beyond this year.

Thank you…you have made 2016 a success.

Jan 9, 2017

Learning Forward- Some Lessons from 2016

Student Engagement- What We Learnt
Student Engagement- What We Learnt

Dear Friends, 

It has been a great year. Twelve months of learning. .

Of learning, and of working out ways to use the lessons learnt to improve our work. Of failing forward by looking backwards.

The main point of learning foor us came in the first quarter of the year.

We learnt from professional teachers and friends teaching in the U.S. about how to engage students and how to make social contracts with them.

This was timely since it came at a time when student disengagement was at an all tiime high and indiscipline was proportionately similar.

Many teachers had given the school's rating at 20% score on discipline.

Through hardwork, making tough calls on staff and accountability the rating shifted at the end of the year. Student engagement was once again looking up. Indiscipline changed and the story was that the school had been remarkably transformed without using corporal punishment as many parents and teachers had initially thought.

We consistently applied the methods taught us during our student engagement workshops and became accountable to each other as teachers on the results we were looking for. The parents gave the support we needed and as a team we all worked to raising the student engagement climate within our school.

Though not where we would like it to be, the student engagement levels in the school improved. At the end of the year, the teachers gave a rating of about 60% from the previous score of 20%.

Some of the lessons learnt are:-

1. Where there are assumptions, fight them to get to the truth- truth liberates people to take right action

2. We learnt to face the truth even when it was ugly- Facing truth inspires corrective action

3. We learnt that high trust leads to swift action and hence almost rapid results.

 We now are acting on these lessons getting information that will lead to truth, using truth and trusting each ther to deliver results that leads to changed lives.


Students Studying
Students Studying
Aug 15, 2016

Growing Threats, Growing Resolve

Teacher Supporting Student's Reading
Teacher Supporting Student's Reading

Dear friend and partner,

The risks facing our children and students at Msingi Bora Learning Centre- Acres of Mercy are growing by the day.It seems more apparent that more and more teenage parents are unavailable for their children. Some of the caregivers are seemingly not taking care of the children left under their care. The results are worrying trends of children being abused. Some parents are not following up their children's education progress, discipline at home is next to zero and families are becoming more risky places for many children. These are the growing threats we are facing now. These are the threats we have been encountering in the last three months.Threats which teachers must be equipped to handle yet they are overwhelmed. Overwhelmed because the needs are vast, and the physical, and emotional resources to counter them limited. 

Yet there is good progress made in some areas. Class 8 attendance that was at 83% last term rose to 93%. This means truancy rates in this class improved greatly. The students are seeing the need to be in school and do well in their studies. Test scores improved by over  an average of 10% in most classes. Thanks to a few "outlier" teachers in the school. In his own words, Tom a student in class 6 said,"Teacher I have Improved in English because I have never achieved these kinds of marks in English before." You can sense the gratitude and encouragement to go on doing well.

The teacher in this class has been consistently employing Daily 5 strategies and the level of independent learning in this class has soared. We are now working on getting more staff to implement the strategies across the school. This level of sudent engagement will yield the kind of quality teaching and learning we all want to see passed on to the next generation. As we work together to impart skills to our team of teachers in dealing with the risks above and others that might crop up, I am positive that we will continue to see great results in all areas of our students' development- in academic and non-academic areas including the areas of teacher motivation, teacher skills and teacher commitment to excellence.

Thanks to your commitment, Thanks to your giving generously, consistently. I would like to kindly urge us to maintain the momentum and invite even more of other friends and partners to join in and support teachers and in efffect the students they teach, mentor and inspire.

And finally, teachers and friends came together to celebrate students' birthdays falling in August. The children had fun And so did the teachers. I guess all work and no fun can make teaching a boring calling. We would like it to be different here at Acres of Mercy. A few photos attached. You can help us celebrate September children and help teachers and student engage at a fun level. 

Thank you.

Boy Reading
Boy Reading
Celebrating Students' Birthday
Celebrating Students' Birthday
Happy Birthday Celebration
Happy Birthday Celebration
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