Why my school will close on the eve of Christmas

Mwalimu Andrew

After the formal meeting, Alex asked me when the school would be closed.

Photo credit: Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • One of the popular decisions I made that Bensouda did not like was closing the school early.
  • Although Bensouda always wanted us to close on the last day as prescribed by the ministry, she was absent the last two weeks of every term.
  • I found it immoral that someone who was away would want everyone else to stay in school till the last day.

Those who know me know that as Deputy HM, during the disastrous rein of Bensouda as HM, I made many pro-student and pro-teacher decisions, most of which did not go down well with Bensouda.

But what could she do? She was never at school, anyway. One of the popular decisions I made that Bensouda did not like was closing the school early. You see, although Bensouda always wanted us to close on the last day as prescribed by the ministry, she was absent the last two weeks of every term.

As deputy, I found it immoral that someone who was away would want everyone else to stay in school till the last day. So, I would close the school early on several occasions.

There was a time I closed the school a week earlier. That time, my name spread far and wide, with pupils and teachers from neighbouring schools praying that I become their next HM.

So when I was appointed HM of Mwisho wa Lami Primary School (Acting HM ni wewe), some teachers and many students were quite excited knowing that I would close the school early. Indeed, that was my plan.

“I will come home on December 13,” I heard a teacher telling someone on phone. “With Dre as the HM, we won’t come to school after Jamhuri Day.”

I will not mention the teacher in question, other than tell you that she is from Nunguni, Ukambani. 

When I heard this, I realised that I was too predictable.

“To be a successful leader, never be predictable,” Pius told me when I told him the story. “Watu watakuzoea if they know what your plans are.”

He told me that no one needed to know my next plan. “Have you read Law 17 of the 48 Laws of Power?” he asked.

Pius had bought me The 48 Law of Power some time ago, and encouraged me to read it now that I was a HM. I went looking for the book, particularly Law 17: “Keep others in suspended terror, cultivate an air of unpredictability. Too much unpredictability will be seen as a sign of indecisiveness, or even of some more serious psychic problem. Your predictability gives people a sense f control. Turn the tables, be deliberately unpredictable…”

There and then I decided that I would be unpredictable all through. I immediately postponed exams by a few days, to the chagrin of many teachers.

“My HM Sir, why did you postpone the exams? Won’t that keep us here long?” Asked Alex.

“I was hoping we will close early so I can travel to Nairobi,” said Lena.

“Why are you all worried?” Wondered Mrs Atika. “With Dre as HM, I am not worried about closing day. I am sure we will close early, report forms can be given to students next term!”

“You all know that this was a very short term,” I said. “And it was made shorter by introducing a half term that had not been planned for. If we start the exams early, we will be short changing the students and parents. Do not worry; the closing date will not be affected.”

Upon hearing this, teachers got excited and we started the end of term examinations last Tuesday. Some teachers started marking as soon as the papers were done.

“Dre you should encourage teachers to start entering marks in the report cards once they have marked the papers,” said Nzomo on Thursday. “I am already doing that but unfortunately, some class teachers have not brought the report forms.”

“You are right Nzomo,” said Alex. “I need to be in Nairobi by 21st. If any teacher wants to stay in school until 23rd, let them know I will not be there.”

I refused to give any directives, only saying that I lead a team of mature teachers who know their job well. On Friday at noon, I called for a staff meeting to be held at 3pm. At least three teachers were missing.

“But surely Dre, who calls for a meeting on Friday afternoon?” asked Madam Ruth. Alex supported her, saying I was lucky he was still in school marking exams. “Usually, I am never here on Friday past noon,” he said.

Unknown to them, it was part of me being unpredictable.

“The last time I checked, Friday was a working day, and this is not America, we do not work half day on Fridays,” I said.

After the formal meeting, Alex asked me when the school would be closed. “As I had told you, I need to be in Nairobi early next week,” he added.

“I wonder why no one ever asks when schools will open,” I said. “No one asks that we open early. But for closing day, everyone is expecting me to close earlier.”

“Sijauliza kwa ubaya Dre,” Alex said

“Don’t we have a ministry circular with clear opening and closing dates? We as a school do not operate in a vacuum, we are a law-abiding school. That is all I will say about this matter for now,” I said, then closed the meeting.

Many teachers thought I was joking. But they will be surprised: We will not even close on December 23 as per the ministry circular. We will close on 24th. I want TSC to know that there are HMs out there ready and willing to do more than is expected of them by the ministry!

You cannot be confirmed as HM by doing kawaida things. I have to stand out!

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