A journey of change
A few years ago, Babele Emedi was working at the UCT medical lab on infectious diseases. Having qualified with a Masters of Science in Biotechnology, he enjoyed the work but a desire for more human connections sparked a search for a new vocation. Though teaching had never been his plan, through a long-standing relationship with John Gilmour, whom he had met when they were both at Abbots College, his search led him to LEAP.
In early 2011, Babele joined the LEAP team as a Physical Science and Life Science teacher. He’s flourished since then, showing exceptional leadership skills that earned him a position on the leadership team at LEAP 2. His enthusiasm, passion and sense of purpose also opened the door to the KIPP School Leadership Programme where he spent six months in Houston, Texas with just over a hundred principals, vice-principals and leadership team members.
He recounts the lessons and memories of his time on the programme:
“My trip gave me the opportunity to learn what it takes to lead a school. From the first day of the orientation week, I was stunned by the level of structure and organization. Papers, pen, folders, schedules, hotels, transport, support systems, leadership guides, everything that could be planned was carefully thought through.
Warm and caring
Warm and caring relationships were formed between young leaders who came from various ethnic groups, states and regions. These exciting encounters created a positive buffer that allowed us to survive the pressures of the programme – early mornings, late nights, readings, intense and long sessions, endless surveys, etc.
The most important lesson I learnt was that if you want to do something, do it well. While we are pushing for increased student outcome and achievement, we should not compromise on quality.
A big personal change resulting from this experience is my organization and planning. I have adopted the use of a simple daily planning tool that has helped improve my effectiveness. Planning is very important not for its own sake but because it helps provide a clear mental picture of what to do. I have also learned to prioritize things, and to not give every single issue that falls onto my desk the same attention.
My hopes for 2014 are great. I have come back from the programme with high expectations of myself and with so much knowledge. Since coming back I have been focused on raising expectations for next year by being “warm and demanding” about professionalism and requiring that instructional and study times are put to maximum use. “