A journey through School of Hope

My journey with School of Hope started in 2008 when my dad enrolled me for Grade 10. I remember that year being extremely challenging, because of my health. Prior to 2008, I dropped out of high school because I deemed my circumstances to be more important than my education. Many people crossed my path and encouraged me to return to school, the desire grew stronger with time, but at the time I could barely take twenty steps without being exhausted (this is no exaggeration). I matriculated in 2010 as valedictorian; what I wanted to do after high school seemed blurry, but deep down I knew that I wanted to work with young people.
In 2011, I returned to the School of Hope as a volunteer for six months until I started working in retail. From this, you can gather that the school held a special place in my heart and it did not take long before I found myself walking through those doors again. This time the school relocate to Observatory and I was asked to present a speech during orientation week in 2014. Laura Collura (previous School of Hope principal) and Christeline Mushwana (previous SOH educator) saw my potential and I grabbed it with both hands. Within a week I started as an 'all-rounder', literally, I got to understand what happens behind the scene of every vital role within a school. In 2015 I was permanently employed by the Thembalitsha Foundation and in addition, they paid it forward by assisting me to complete my studies in Education. For the past six years, my character has been shaped by phenomenal human beings. 
I definitely did not wake up wanting to be an educator, in actual fact, I was the learner that dreaded reading aloud in class and hated test week; because of my experiences as a teenager, I knew that I wanted to be able to change that narrative for other teenagers. The School of Hope has given me the platform to do that. I don't only have the opportunity to teach content subjects, but most importantly I get to develop young minds to realise the potential that they have within. Through this, I ignite a world of opportunity and encourage them to have a positive perspective on life. When I completed Grade 12 I believed that I held the key that will unlock any door. Being educated helps us do better, it broadens our horizons and reverses poverty.
There are many avenues that I would like to venture into in the education sector, but the most important one would be the structure of the curriculum. I have witnessed many of our youth feel marginalized by the system that echoes 'only successful when you achieve good grades' because they don't even fall in the average column. They are the ones that many times go unnoticed because they have created perfect domes of silence, but in actual fact, they are the creative ones that persevere most times with no support. For too long we have painted every learner with the same brush and the only thing that separates them is pace. I believe that the curriculum should be all-inclusive, instead of it only being academically driven. The curriculum should include all types of intelligence and the biggest question that we need to ask is how should success be determined. I know that we will see many learners thrive if they are moulded into areas of their interest, within the high school environment. 
I often find myself quoting Kirk Douglas, "The learning process continues until the day you die”.
I have purposed it in my heart to always be teachable and because of this, I will always be able to have a greater impact on those who have to learn from me. 
— Meghan Martin-Smith 


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