State of grace
By Ross Hill, Leader of LEAP 4
It was an unexpected year for me. I knew 2011 was going to arrive but I did not ever anticipate starting a school in Diepsloot, or spending six months in the States.
I found the first three months of opening a school relatively easy. We had a great team, we had energy pumping through our veins, we got the show on the road. Then I received a phone call on the last day of the first term. The phone call was not completely out of the blue, a few months earlier some Americans had interviewed me for an education programme. The KIPP Fisher Fellowship is a year-long programme for school leaders who are just about to open a school.
Knowing how quickly things happen at LEAP – it was a quick corridor conversation with John Gilmour the previous June that started my relocation to Johannesburg to open a school – I knew that this US trip might become a possibility. On Tuesday I had an interview with the US Consulate and on Friday I flew to the US. The following Monday, I was a tourist in New York City.
EdVillage were our gate-openers and our hosts. They facilitated moments from telling two South Africans working in a township and an Indian working in a slum how to not get mugged on the US underground, to dining with the founders of influential educational organisations in the US and worldwide.
The fellowship was a hugely successful experience because it provided the space were we could take this journey and reflect on our classes with people who were going through the same process.
I left the States with a long contact list of educators and leaders with experience and knowledge over a vast spectrum. I left having seen many excellent teachers teach classes and with all the conversation I have had with them on how they planned and implemented these lessons. I have done the same with school leaders and learnt about how they run their schools and what they have learnt as they have opened schools.
I can now plan with greater intentionality, react with more experience and use every moment of the day to effectively steer and grow my school.