Teacher takes class to Africa to help orphans

Teacher takes class to Africa to help orphans

Last year, teacher Dale Kelly from St Stephen’s School in Western Australia was awarded a scholarship that was part of a drive to support professional development of educators in the independent sector.

The awards, formerly known as the Dedicated to the Dedicated Awards, are part of NGS Super’s commitment to supporting teaching, support staff and management staff of non-government schools in their careers while further enhancing the education sector.   

While some educators might have chosen to use the scholarship to sharpen their professional skillsets, Kelly’s venture was markedly worldlier.

Kelly took 17 of his Year 10 students on a trip to revamp an orphanage in South Africa – a decision he says enabled his school’s international service tour to cement itself in the orphanage and enhance relationships with them for the future.

“We wanted to launch an international service program that built on the school’s motto – ‘Serve God, serve one another’,” Kelly told The Educator

“The students were able to see the benefits of service in a global sense, in turn creating a new perspective as future leaders in our society. We are able to see these changes in attitudes towards school initiatives and academic success.”

Kelly has since led three school trips to the orphanage where he and his students have retiled two dilapidated bathrooms, paved an entire sports court, built and painted an adventure playground, and created a laundry out of a shipping container.

Due to the tour’s success, 26 children have applied for 18 places next year in Kelly’s school program. The group plans to build a new dining room and kitchen and add lights to the sports court.

Kelly said the opportunity provides a platform for students to reflect on their responsibilities in a global sense and this will no doubt shape their academic and career choices.

“Students were, by and large, overwhelmed by the experience at first. The welcome that they received, especially at the orphanage, was totally unexpected,” he said.

“Students commented on the lack of material wealth and how it did not seem to impact the happiness of the people. An important link is therefor made between concepts material wealth not necessarily impacting well-being.”

Kelly said students also commented of the greater need for support to disadvantaged communities. 

“They felt that what they did is not enough and that their job is to now rally further members of our community to serve a greater impact,” he said, adding that commentary was also made about the injustices of the social divide in South Africa.

“This was something that the students really struggled to get their heads around, as would many adults. It certainly burst the perspective bubble that they occupy within Australia.”

Kelly said the Scholarships are a great incentive to further the way in which educators engage with students, particularly in a society that is changing at an alarming rate. 

“In a global environment that is becoming increasingly uncertain and ambiguous, our attempts as educators to find spaces where we are able to engage our students is perhaps now more prevalent than ever,” he said. 

“I would absolutely encourage any educator to step outside of their comfort zones, use the scholarship as an opportunity to explore new ideas and to really see how far your ideas can take you – I believe that you will surprise yourself and others.”

Applications are now open for the 2017 NGS Super Scholarship Awards, nurturing the professional development of those in the independent education sector.

Six scholarships valued at $5,000 each will be awarded to NGS Fund members to help them undertake a professional development course, project, or study tour of their choice.