|A Word from Wellspring Academy|
About two months ago I was spending time on the playground with the foundation year (kindergarten) students. I saw and began talking with one bright, energetic, beautiful girl who has a Canadian mother and a Rwandan father. About one minute later a Rwandan child came up to us, looked us over, and knowingly and proudly declared that, “You and her are the same!” I knew he was referring to our skin color, which is coincidentally very much NOT the same, and chuckled to myself in thinking about the brazen and “say-it-like-it-is” way that young children have and are allowed to have because of their naivety to social norms. Wellspring Academy’s vision and mission guides us in working hard to create a place where students are prepared to lead and live in ways that are also brazen and against certain societal, and perhaps even cultural norms.
The vision of the Wellspring Academy is to produce a new generation of servant leaders to bless Rwanda and display the best of Rwanda to the world.
We currently are working towards fulfilling this vision in the lives of the children from foundation year to senior 2 (grade 8). We will continue to add an additional class each year until we reach 650 students K-12, which would happen by the start of 2016. Class teachers guide students each day in morning devotions, in caring for their class’s and school’s cleanliness, in helping assist teachers and other students in various activities, and in caring for the overall well being of their peers. Rwandan society is not especially different from other societies in that servant leadership training is not common among its schools. Servant leadership training is being taught to and displayed by Wellspring students in a real and practical way that is preparing them and will hopefully launch them into a lifetime of service.
The mission of the Wellspring Academy is to educate and equip students to become highly skilled, Godly leaders, and agents of community transformation.
Wellspring Academy is a school that focuses on the whole child’s well-being, which is something of a novelty, and is definitely brazenly counter-societal when compared to many, if not nearly all, other primary and/or secondary schools in Rwanda. We are constantly working towards trying to help parents see the value of not just ensuring that their child scores well on their exams each year. This is the primary focus of most other schools in the country. Here, the academic results speak, almost exclusively, to the success of the school. We are actively engaging with parents and the community to help them see the value of a more comprehensive approach. One that focuses on the child’s spiritual growth, their emotional well-being, their social skills, their development in extra-curricular areas, and yes, their skill and knowledge in academic areas. It is an ongoing process to engage with the community in this way, but I have heard the comment from many parents in my short time as the school’s principal that they are so, so thankful for the opportunity to have their child receive an education that looks out for their entire well-being and seeks to support and help them in all areas of development. The school’s efforts to educate counter-culturally, by God’s grace, are not going unnoticed by our stakeholders and by those outside the Wellspring community, as our large waiting list (20-40 students per class) each year testifies to.
There are areas that the school needs to improve in, which we see as a sign of good health, as we do not want to settle into a state of apathy but want to push hard towards what we know, with God’s help, is possible for our Rwandan students and, in turn, for the country of Rwanda. We need to continue to work with our teachers towards increasing the quality of instruction going on inside the classroom. We need to look carefully at the systems of management that are in place to see how they can be modified to increase effectiveness and efficiency. We need to seek out and bring excellent international educators to help train our teachers. We need continued and increased involvement from our community members that will bring unity and momentum towards making our school’s vision a growing reality. We need to complete our school’s facility development projects so we can make some of our dreams become a reality. Looking ahead towards the future brings excitement. Teachers, parents, and students alike are truly beginning to see what is possible when the favor of the Lord rests upon a school that passionately loves Him and seeks to glorify Him in all that is done. It is an exciting time to be someone who has committed themselves to helping make Wellspring Academy’s vision attainable.
I sense God’s very real presence at this place. He has brought unity among all staff members. The children are proud to call Wellspring Academy their school. Lives are being challenged and changed for the glory of God. I have had the privilege of being able to invite most of the staff members, in groups, to my house for dinner during my time here. While eating, I have asked them, “What does Wellspring Academy mean to you?” The responses have involved tears, both from the staff members who share and from those who listen, including myself. The answer that I have commonly heard is that they feel as if they are part of a family, which for some, is something they have not experienced before.
Wellspring Academy, a school for Rwandan children, taught by Rwandans, and for Rwanda is a place of hope. A hope that is centered on the Lord and what is possible when He moves in the hearts of His followers. A hope that is centered on what is possible when young, Godly, servant leaders rise up and lead the country. And a hope that is centered on the power of Christ’s redeeming work in the lives of those He loves.
The Wellspring Foundation for Education
Telephone: 604 592-5062
The Wellspring Foundation for Education
PO Box 7489