One of the most striking features of our school, which sets us apart, is the obvious passion and commitment of each and every teacher to our cause. They could have chosen better paying jobs, with more defined growth prospects, in the public or for-profit education sector. But they have decided rather that The Kusasa Project is where they want to be! Our teachers have consciously chosen to offer their skills, expertise and career paths to work in an under-resourced and socio-economically scarred community. Why? Let’s meet 3 of our teachers to find out!
Ilze Lourens: Grade 3 Teacher
Ilze comes from a rich educational heritage – following in the footsteps of her grandparents and her mother. Her mother’s work at a bridge program – helping less privileged students get into university – really inspired Ilze to use her own teaching career for a greater societal purpose.
Ilze truly values the holistic nature of our involvement in our learners’ lives: from the availability of a whole range of psycho-social and medical professionals, to a principal who knows each child and their family.
“Education is not an isolated thing. We deliver culturally-responsive education. We take the child and the whole situation around the child to inform the type of teaching we do.”
Therefore, alongside academic achievement, the school runs workshops on emotional intelligence, mental well-being, and mindfulness.
Because The Kusasa Project is an independent school, we’re not bound only to the government curriculum. Ilze loves the freedom she has to make lessons very interactive and fun for the learners.
Ilze is currently completing her Masters in Foundation Phase Mathematics!
Soetkin le Roux: Grade 2 Teacher
Soetkin initially envisaged a business career for herself and studied industrial psychology. However, the psychological focus of her studies – especially child psychology – turned out to be life-changing for her. Post-graduate studies in education followed which cemented an unexpected love for teaching.
Learning support has become a passion for Soetkin – aided by Honours studies in this area. She is driven to help children who really struggle academically. In The Kusasa Project she saw an opportunity to put her passion into widespread practice – and goes the “extra mile”, offering learning support to every child in her class.
“We’ve got … learners who are motivated to come to school. The learners love coming to school. And I love that about them!”
For Soetkin, another amazing feature of the school is the way the parents work with them. Having people believe in what you want to do really makes a difference.
Marie-Louise Raymond: Principal
Marie-Louise was first and foremost a fully-fledged social worker (in addition to her more recent teaching qualifications). Her work in the difficult environment of rural communities quickly made Marie-Louise realise that the most important social prerogative is to nurture “happy children”.
“Even though their situation is bad, or their circumstances aren’t always positive, a happy child is someone that can trust somebody…A child is not a tick box.”
This work is best done in an educational context – rather than only being able to intervene when a social crisis arises. And so Marie-Louise’s focus shifted from social work to teaching and eventually to The Kusasa Project. Her unique experience, perspectives and managerial skill has proved to be an ideal fit as Principal of our school.
“The Kusasa Project is a place where children must feel safe. And they must have fun. If you set that foundation that learning can be fun, then whatever happens after that will be so much more positive in their lives.”
For Marie-Louise, it’s important to respect the cultural context of the school’s families. Her work as principal at The Kusasa Project has provided her with the opportunity to help design and implement an education model that does not compromise on the highest academic development, whilst at the same time being able to meaningfully intervene in the social circumstances which can so destructively rob our learners of the best academic opportunities.
“We’re dreaming big, and making sure that the kids are safe.”
We are so proud of our special and amazing teaching staff, who’ve chosen to join The Kusasa Project team, and are helping to change the lives of our learners every day!