What an honour to be able to write this letter. In January 2020, Olive Ridge School opened doors to 5 learners with their parents and 4 staff members. I remember telling my staff that I wish I could see into the future just to see what the school would look like at the end of that year. We had 3 classrooms that needed cleaning, filling up with educational content and getting ready to start offering our #oliveridgeapproach to Bloemfontein and surrounding areas. The school was totally fenced off, but it was still a building site and as we swept and washed, a new wave of dust came out of nowhere and we had to start all over. We did, and eventually effectively started teaching when the schools opened. We had field trips and Science experiments, we had music lessons and face-to-face workshops and training on various technologies used to offer our unique curriculum at the school. I was excited for the year that lay ahead, working toward the vision of #EducationfortheFuture.
The pandemic forced us to close our classroom doors, but we kept on teaching. The teachers were extra-ordinary and “thinking-outside-of-the-box” was our motto for the remainder of the year. We had training upon training. We taught online from our television rooms and homes. We utilised our families to make sure the phones and computers stayed in upright positions. We compiled special worksheets and worked out funny dance moves to entertain our learners. We assessed and tested knowledge of learners through video calls and Google for Education. We sent inspirational and motivational messages to each other and our learners. We were thankful to still have learners to teach and parents who asked advice on how to help their kids. We also mastered the skills of “thinking-outside-of-the-box” and being creative in our approach to learning and teaching.
In January 2021, we welcomed 30 learners who either re-registered and/or enrolled for the first time. We have faced many of the same challenges this year, but we were prepared with the #oliveridgeapproach and #EducationfortheFuture and our contingency plans were set into motion. These days at Olive Ridge School learners are taught responsibility in life, they have the confidence to take on tasks and learn new concepts, they have compassion for their friends, they are persistent in wanting to reach outcomes and master skills taught in the classroom. I believe the past year and a half, shaped our minds and behaviour even more than we thought possible, this belief includes learners, parents and teachers. I am grateful for the support that the school gets from the community. I am thankful for parents who put their faith in us with their children’s education. I stand in awe of the accomplishments of my teachers. I thank Edulife Group for their guidance and inspiring the drive to complete this project. I feel blessed to be a part of this journey. And I now wish to see the greatness in the young adults of the future that attended Olive Ridge School.