More than a school… an experience!
At Woodridge, we are acutely aware of the needs in our community. We have a thriving Community Partnership Programme focussed mainly on educational projects. Pupils are able to get involved in a hands-on way and make a positive and lasting contribution in the local area.
1. HOMEWORK CLUB
Two afternoons a week, our wage earners’ children have the opportunity to improve their Maths and English, as well as get help with any homework they have. College and older Prep pupils help with running the classes, and have formed some good friendships with the children too. We have also linked up with a school in Maryland, USA and have an “email pal” programme with same-age pupils over there, which has been most beneficial to all involved!
2. VAN STADENS FARM SCHOOL
This school is about 2km from Woodridge and has many needs and challenges. We assist the school in a number of ways, such as:
- Promotion of literacy – we acquired a graded reading scheme for the Foundation Phase and our College isiXhosa pupils read with the children on a regular basis.
- Refurbishing of classrooms – the Interact pupils have an ongoing project to paint, sand desks and fundraise for curtains, posters, reading corner books, teaching resources and so on.
- Establishment of a veggie garden – “Farming God’s Way” is overseeing this, and our pupils are working alongside the Farm School pupils and parents to manage this.
- College music pupils are teaching a group of Grade 4 and 5 pupils to play the steel drums and form their own band.
3. AET AND IT CLASSES
Our wage earners are given the opportunity to improve their English and IT skills if they so wish. We use the Media Works programme to teach English and our learners write the IEB AET (Adult Education and Training) exams. In addition, we offer the “Elearner” course which is a precursor to the ICDL (International Computer Driver’s Licence).
4. MANDELA DAY
The whole school, from Pre-Primary to Matric gets involved in a wide variety of hands-on tasks every year on Mandela Day. These tasks are both on-campus and in the wider community.
5. FUNDRAISING AND COLLECTIONS
This is ongoing throughout the year and we support a wide variety of worthy causes such as the Sunflower Fund, PAWS, Reach for a Dream, the SPCA, Save-A-Pet and the South African Legion.
We make and sell cards and gifts to fund events such as the homework club Christmas party and to buy items for the Van Stadens Farm School classroom. These are available to buy from the School Shop and at various open days and sports events.
2015 saw the establishment of the position of “Community Partnership Co- ordinator” and on being appointed to this position; I quickly realized that, as we are a school, our projects should focus mainly on educational support for the surrounding community. My initiatives have therefore been almost all educational. This is a two-way street, as our own pupils are also educated by being exposed to needs in the community.
1. ABET (Adult Basic Education and Training)
The ABET English classes have run for the second year now and we have 12 learners attending regularly from amongst our wage earning staff. The learners study at their own level and pace. In July, five learners had completed Level 2 and
they wrote the IEB exam. All passed, with marks ranging from 63 to 88%. These learners were presented with their certificates in the Prep Assembly recently. Two further learners will be writing Level 2 and Level 4 exams on 1 December. We will be holding our end of year tea this coming week, where learners will receive attendance certificates and be given the chance to showcase their English skills.
2. IT COURSE
The “E-learner” IT course was purchased in June and classes started on the 17th. Mr. Nicholas Kock is teaching this course twice a week, in the evenings. The classes are 90 minutes each. 16 wage earners attend as well as three learners from the wider community who are being funded by the Africa Foundation, at a cost of R3500 per learner. This course is MICT-SETA accredited and is a precursor to the ICDL. (International Computer Driver’s Licence). Although the school purchased the software initially at an amount of R13737, I approached a number of potential donors to cover this cost and BCX, who did our IT upgrade, generously agreed to cover the full amount.
The IT and ABET classes being run, have meant that our skills development statistics which have to be provided to the Department of Labour annually have been dramatically improved from zero Coloured and Black staff in 2013, to 27 in 2015.
3. HOMEWORK CLUB
This is open to all children of our wage earners. It is run on a Tuesday and Thursday afternoon with Grade 4’s to 7’s coming on a Tuesday and Grade R to 3 on a Thursday. Mrs. Anne- Marie Botes helps me on a Thursday, and we have around 35 children attending in total each week. A group of 4 or 5 volunteers from amongst the College pupils assist us. A number of Grade 7’s from the Prep have also helped as part of their Community Service project. My original intention was simply to help the children with their homework and provide them with educational games to play, but we have now established a Maths and English programme, as the children do not seem to get much homework given to them. One of my main aims is for the children to develop confidence and to become enthusiastic about learning. I have also tried to expand their view and understanding of the wider world. To this end, I have established an “email pal” project with a school in Maryland, USA. The Grade 4-7 children are loving their contact with kids from a foreign country and learning how their lives are similar and different to theirs. We also made Christmas decorations which were sent to a church in England who host an annual Christmas Tree Festival. These opportunities to share their own culture, experiences and talents with pride are invaluable to the children. The children will be having an end of year party on the 26th of November and I have raised money to cover the costs of this. (See “LoveWorks”)
4. VAN STADENS FARM SCHOOL
I have been very involved at the Farm School (in the Flower Reserve) as I feel it is a “forgotten school” with many needs, and with it being so close to Woodridge it makes sense for us to be fully involved there. The first thing requested by the Headmistress, Mrs Blom, was for us to help them re-establish the veggie garden, which could then feed the kids at lunch time.
Woodridge Prep children donated packets of seeds and hand tools to the cause, and the “Farming God’s Way” organization came on board to oversee the project. It was decided to establish a larger garden from which veggies could be sold to raise funds for the school, as well as to feed the children. There were a number of delays in the process – one of the main causes being the very heavy rain we have had in recent months. Nevertheless, planting is imminent and the children should be eating fresh veggies daily from January 2016. We are looking at ways of managing this project in co-operation with Africoast, who are keen to fund a number of initiatives at the school such as refurbishing the toilets and some older classrooms. There is a group of Woodridge College pupils who are very keen to help with the veggie garden on a regular basis, which I will organize. I am, however, very aware of the fact that the teachers, pupils and parents at Van Stadens need to take ownership of the garden and make it sustainable.
Promotion of Literacy has been my other main focus at the Farm School this year. I discovered that the school had no graded reading scheme at all and I approached a number of Literacy NGOs with this need. The Molteno Institute generously donated an entire brand new reading scheme (300 books) in isiXhosa, and they also ran an afternoon workshop for the teachers, on how to teach reading. The Woodridge College pupils covered all the books in contact, and we are currently setting up a reading project involving Garry Baines and his isiXhosa pupils, who will go across and read with the Grade 1-3 pupils on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. I have asked the Molteno trainers to return early in 2016 to reinforce and expand on the training they have given to the teachers, as this is vital to the ongoing improvement in literacy levels at the school.
Lack of classroom space and basic resources is another major need at the school. I decided to start from the bottom up, and I motivated the Interact club, as well as some parents to become involved in refurbishing the Grade R classroom. The Interact pupils painted it and sanded desks one Friday afternoon, bright curtaining and posters have been donated and it just remains for us to put up shelving for the reading corner, and organize recyclables we have collected to use as Maths resources (e.g. bottle tops for counters.) We will then tackle the next classroom! Ideally however, we need new classrooms to be built and we will look more seriously at how to go about this in 2016. The current Grade R and 1 classes are using one of the Flower Reserve workers’ houses (a tiny house with 4 rooms) as their classroom and the cramped conditions are hampering their learning terribly. I have had an offer of help from a parent whose business is involved in a “Wendy house for libraries” project and I am hoping that we can come up with some creative solutions together.
Finally, one of our music teachers, Mr. Paul Richard, is in the process of setting up a music project with Grade 4 and 5 pupils from the Farm School. Two of his pupils will teach 15 children how to play the steel drums and form a band. Paul will supervise this. He has experience of teaching in the townships in Durban, and community work was one of the main reasons why he came to South Africa from France. The current Grade 3’s and 4’s were brought across to the College recently, to try out the steel drums, and to hear our band playing. This has given them a taste of what it is all about, and the lucky 15 will be selected in January 2016.
5. THORNHILL PRIMARY
I have developed a good rapport with Mr. Aweries, the Headmaster at Thornhill Primary, however we have not been heavily involved there. The school has brand new buildings and is well staffed and so I felt our attentions were more needed at Van Stadens. We have nevertheless donated a number of items to Thornhill Primary during the course of the year – notably, 15 computers which we no longer needed after our IT upgrade. As of next year, Mrs. Roslyn Pienaar and I will be working with the Grade 6 and 7 English teacher on a reading project called “Phendulani”. This is a national project which promotes reading by encouraging a group of 12 learners to read 15 set books between them. They then attend an annual quiz in Motherwell, where they compete against other schools in the PE area and can win some nice prizes as well as books for their library. I attended the quiz this year with Mrs. Pienaar and was very impressed by how positive the vibe was, and how well run the project is.
6. MANDELA DAY
Woodridge College and Prep fully embraced the concept of Mandela Day this year, participating in the “67 Minutes for Mandela” initiative with great enthusiasm. At the Prep, teachers selected activities for their classes to complete and taught them the importance of appreciating what we have and remembering those less fortunate than ourselves. They were also given the opportunity to do jobs that normally get done for them, such as cleaning and litter pickup. Pupils were reminded of the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela by researching and reading about Madiba and looking at some of his famous quotes on education and finding one’s passion in life. The grades completed the following tasks:
Grade 6 – litter and leaf pick-up
Grade 5 – alien hack on the school campus
Grade 4 – book and stationery collection for the children at the Van Stadens Farm School
Grade 3 – sponsoring a penguin at SAMREC by doing 67 chores at home to raise R67 each
Grade 2 – Visiting the elderly at CP Bradfield old age home in Port Elizabeth. Grade 1 – giving Monica a break and cleaning their own classrooms and corridor
Even the Pre-Primary pupils were introduced to the concept of Mandela Day through stories and poems and learning “the Mandela shuffle” and the National Anthem.
At the College, pupils had been given the opportunity to sign up for a wide range of activities to be completed in the allotted 67 minutes. There were 17 different activities, some on campus and some in the wider community.
Some examples of these were:
- Musicians performed a concert at Cheshire Homes in Summerstrand, followed by a combined sing-song.
- Art students painted a “Noah’s Ark” mural for the Newtown Crèche.
- Board games were made and books were covered for the Van Stadens Farm School.
- Soccer and netball tournaments were held for local children, with Woodridge pupils joining in on the fun.
- Litter was picked up on the trails and a revamp of the veggie garden close to Kohler House was undertaken.
- A group of elderly people from Thornhill was hosted for tea and cakes and a bingo game.
- Lunch was made and classrooms and hostels cleaned while the cleaning and kitchen staff were served tea and cake.
- Removal of alien plants on campus and in the Flower Reserve, working alongside the “Friends of Van Stadens”.
- Visiting the Uitenhage SPCA and taking donations of food and blankets.
- Visiting the Newtown Crèche – playing with the children and icing cupcakes together.
- The Admin Staff also took part by buying R67 worth of seedlings to plant in the newly revamped veggie garden.
We received very positive feedback from the pupils, as well as from the organizations which we assisted, and this has started the ball rolling in terms of ongoing involvement with a number of these organizations.
7. CAMPUS PETS
Ms. Steph Arndt, who is one of our parents and a trained vet, is involved with animal welfare in the St. Francis township. She offered her services to the wage earners who have pets, and she now visits Woodridge once a month. We have combined these visits with homework club, so that the pupils can learn all about pet care. She brings deworming and deflea-ing medicines and has also had a dipping session. In addition, she has arranged through the SPCA to have a number of pets sterilized – all free of charge. This service has been much appreciated by the wage earners.
8. FUNDRAISING AND DONATIONS
A wide range of causes have been supported by the Woodridge pupils at both the College and Prep this year. Just a few of these are:
- Clothes collection for iThemba Home for the disabled children and The Love Story.
- Pet food collected for Save-A-Pet and Uitenhage SPCA
- Sports goods for Humansdorp High School
- Easter Eggs for various children in the local area
- Food and toiletries for Ubomi Obutsha Centre in Kwazekhele
- School shoes for Masakhane High School in Kwazekhele
- Christmas boxes for children of all ages in the PE area
- Various civvies days were held to raise money for charities such as the Sunflower Fund (Bandana Day), the South African Legion (Poppy Day), PAWS (Rhino Day) and Reach for a Dream (Slipper Day)
I started a small fundraising initiative named “LoveWorks”, with one of the Prep Moms, Mrs. Teresa Anderson. Together we make cards and gifts which we have sold at the Prep Spring Fair, OE Day, in the College
and Prep staff rooms and also in the school shop.
Funds raised have covered the cost of the homework club Christmas party, gifts for all the children and various items needed for refurbishing the Farm School classroom.
10. AIMS FOR 2016
My plans for 2016 are to continue building on the above-mentioned projects. I would however, like the College pupils to be more involved in a “hands-on” way. There is certainly willingness on their part, but the problem this year has been how to fit it into their already very full timetable. My solution has been to recruit a team of teachers for 2016, who all have a heart for outreach, and we will operate on a rota system on Friday afternoons to take pupils to places such as the SPCA, Farm School, Flower Reserve, Homes for the disabled or elderly and so on to work at whatever is needed. There are at least six teachers available for this.
I would also like to partner with funders in the corporate world in order to have sustainable involvement in areas like the Van Stadens Farm School. So far, the funds I have obtained have been on a one-off basis and I’d prefer a “partnership” arrangement.
In addition, I am hoping for more exposure on the Facebook page and school website, as not only does this reflect positively on the school, but will hopefully bring in potential donors. I have already met with Gail Smith to discuss this and will soon have photos and info online.
Thank you for taking the time to read this! I can be contacted at email@example.com for any further information.
Marianne Crane November 2015
We offer an excellent opportunity for corporates to invest in our projects. As a fully registered Non-Profit Organization (Ref: 026-297-NPO) and a Public Benefit Organization (Ref: 18/11/13/3275) we can provide you with a section 18A tax certificate.
You would have the peace of mind of knowing that your contributions are directly benefitting sustainable educational projects that are overseen by a qualified and experienced teacher who now has the dedicated role of Community Partnership Co-Ordinator for Woodridge College and Preparatory School.
Please contact Marianne Crane at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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Woodridge Librarian, Mrs Roslyn Pienaar, arranged for Thornhill Combined School to take part in the “Phendulani” reading quiz recently. Phendulani is a nationwide initiative to encourage a love of reading in under-resourced schools. Selected pupils from Grade 6 and 7...
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Such excitement at the first veggie garden harvest at Van Stadens Farm School! Woodridge and "Farming God's Way" worked with the school to make this happen.
Woodridge College hosted the NPO "Singakwenza" from KZN, who taught our staff, parents and pupils, as well as pupils, teachers and caregivers from our local community how to make educational toys from recyclable items. Such a fun afternoon of learning - thank you...
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