Jan 2, 2018

Reflecting Back on Year 2017

Some of Our Staff and Their Children
Some of Our Staff and Their Children

Dear friend and project partner,

2017 has been a year of growth and development for our teaching staff. Our aim with this project has been to ensure the students get quality teaching and learning from our teachers. You have ensured that this has happened throughout the year. As our project partners, you have ensured all the teachers have been motivated to come to school every month without having to worry about whether the paycheck will come in time, because faithfully and sacrificially you have ensured that happened. Thank you.

We invested time in coaching the teachers and mentoring them to ensure high quality teaching. In 2017, we focused on training the staff on Brain Based Teaching, Inquiry Based and other effective Instructional Strategies, Classroom Management Strategies, Competency Based Curriculum, and Growth Mindset.

The school had a teacher to pupil ration of 1:13. This is an average score. The class sizes ranged from 24 to 10. The school teacher population was at a constant 13 teaching staff. The support to these teachers yielded impact in the learning and achievement of students as could be seen in the Average Class and Subject Value-Added Scores and Attendance Score.

By the end of the year compared to October 2016, Average Value-Added Scores for 2017 for the entire school grew by 28%. The score shows how much a subject or class grew in achievement from the last assessment taken at the same time in the previous year. It assumes the efforts being put in by the teacher, parents, and students, and administration yielded the growth in achievement. The average school attendance score was at 84%, which can be roughly translated to mean that at any given time the school had 112 students attending class any given day, with the main reason for non-attendance being parents not taking responsibility to contribute their portion of tuition fees.

We found that the Value Add Score is a better motivator to teachers than the mean grade as it measures how much improvement students are making. This has helped teachers focus more on strategies to improve individual student achievement rather than improving class mean scores. It also achieved a key strategy that focuses on using data and assessments to improve teaching instruction and classroom interventions which will yield quality teaching.

At the end of the year, the teachers shared their best memories from 2017. Here are some of them.

One of my best memories was when we went for a team building session accompanied by our students.” Grade 4 Class Teacher

“Guiding Learners in the dangers associated with pre-marital sex.” Counselling Teacher

“Improvement in Grade 4 Mathematics Achievement.” Grade 4 Math Teacher

“Participating with the students in the music festivals.” Grade 5 Teacher

“Seeing the learners develop interest and positive attitude toward mathematics.” Grade 8 Teacher

“Teaching students about road safety with toy cars and sound effects from a sound app. The boys enjoyed it. The girls loved it.” Grade 6 English Teacher

“Being given the opportunity to be Head of Academics. I was able to develop my skill in administration.” Head of Academics Teacher.

“My best memories were seeing children slowly by slowly take initiative in their learning and forge ahead without fear.” English Language Teacher

All this was made possible by your consistent investments in the teachers. We celebrate your successes in 2017. You both have made the year a success. One of lasting impact. Thank you.

On behalf of the teachers, the children and the Acres of Mercy Board, I wish you a great year 2018, one of success in all your endeavors and look forward to your continued support for much more impact in this year.

Teacher's Collaborating During Training
Teacher's Collaborating During Training
Students Hang Out With A Teaacher
Students Hang Out With A Teaacher
Teacher's Work Together
Teacher's Work Together
Jan 2, 2018

Looking Back to Forge Ahead

Grade 8 Students Just Before their Finals
Grade 8 Students Just Before their Finals

Dear friend,

It has been a great 2017. Since our last report “Rising Stars” we saw the end of what we could term a fairly impactful school year. I will touch on a few key highlights from the year 2017.

The school year started in January 2017 with 146 students. The term lasting through to April 2017. We started by investing in Textbooks so we can give every student better access to textbooks. During this term students participated in term one Ball Games and Athletics, an activity that plays a big role in helping us identify and nurture students’ talents in various sporting areas such as soccer, volleyball, netball, track events and field events. In 2017, we encouraged students to try their hands at Javelin and Shot Put.

When schools reopened after the April holiday, we had them participate in Drama and Music Festivals. Over 30 students participated in Performing Traditional Dance, Giving Speeches and Reciting English and Swahili Poems. We continued investing in story books and revision material for students. In April student population dropped to 138 as some parents opted to transfer their students. This was after we demanded more responsibility and involvement from parents and guardians.

In October 2017, Grade 8 students sat for the national examinations to facilitate their transition from Primary level education to High School. 24 students-12 boys and 12 girls, sat for these examinations (Kenya Certificate Primary Education).  79% of students got the opportunity to join High school while 21% would get the opportunity to go to Technical Schools. I

The exiting students did a simple exit assessment where we were learning from them which areas we needed to work on. Below are some of their responses.

“When I came to our school (Acres of Mercy). I did not know how to read, but now I can read.” J.

“I liked the good lunch and having textbooks so the pupils can learn well.” E.

“I liked the arrangement (of the classroom) in groups because we helped each other to learn what we had not understood.” H

“I liked the no corporal punishment policy in the school.” R.

Hearing these words coming from the students make us believe we had an impact in their lives.

The older students received continuous mentoring from community partners throughout the year with a team building activity in September and a group mentoring session being held in October a week before the schools closed for December holidays.

The year ended with us having one teacher to every 12 students, 1 textbook to 8 students and a school population of 134 students, of whom 65 were girls, 69 were boys. I would like to thank you for making these and many more happen in the lives of all the students we worked with in the year 2017. Thank you for the generous and continued support. I wish you an awesome and successful year 2018 on my own behalf, the children, the staff, and the Board of Acres of Mercy.

Some of Our Girls
Some of Our Girls
Teacher's Planning Together
Teacher's Planning Together
Students and Teacher's During Outdoor Learning
Students and Teacher's During Outdoor Learning
Oct 5, 2017

Rising Stars

Boy in reflective mode
Boy in reflective mode

Dear friend and partner,

We are in the middle of a ‘STORYWORLD’ session with one of our students. ‘STORYWORLD’ is a do-it-yourself effectiveness kit we use at GlobalGiving to improve our effectiveness by ensuring our work is relevant to the children we are working for. I am talking with a 15-year old Class 8 girl. Let’s call her Yves. She tells me about how she sees her present environment, and talks about her dreams and aspirations. My eyes are opened to the realities and challenges she and girls like her have to contend with on a daily basis. Despite being orphaned at age 7, she has remarkable strength of character, foresight and a good dose of hope for the future.

When we first enrolled her at Acres of Mercy five years ago, Yves was just learning how to read. I ask her a question and she works hard to find the right words to paint the picture of the situation she is trying to describe. We are talking about the challenges facing girls her age in Nguluni. Yves, talks candidly about teenage pregnancy and sex outside of marriage and its impact on girls’ education. I dared suggest to her to feel free to use Swahili to which she replied. “I am now learning English. I want to become better at English. I will just talk in English.” Her resolve to want to better herself and her community is so strong she echoes the same sentiments when she says, “I need someone to help me become better at Math. I need someone to help me every day so I can become better at Mathematics.” You see the same force of character when she takes up her position as a midfielder playing for her school soccer team.

Yves has come a long way. With the help of the dedicated team of teachers, partners like you and supportive guardians and or parents she and other girls and boys at Acres of Mercy are working towards fulfilling their dreams. It is this partnership that has made the changes we see in Yves possible. Thank you for making it possible. Friends, In three weeks, she and twenty three others will be sitting the national examinations that will see these students transition to High school in February 2018. Asked what she is doing to make a difference in the community, especially on the teenage pregnancy issue. She responds, “I will continue talking to the girls, give them advice. ’And in future, I want to be a teacher…yes, I want to be a teacher, to make a difference in the lives of students.” The future is lit. Thank you for keeping these flames alive.

Girl with Book
Girl with Book
Brain Break
Brain Break
Meagre but...we learn
Meagre but...we learn
Acres of Mercy Learning Centre
Acres of Mercy Learning Centre
One of the rising stars
One of the rising stars
 
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