Hope For Limpopo

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Vhutshilo Mountain School - 1st Term Highlights 2024

5/5/2024 |

Category: VMS

Dear Vhutshilo Mountain School community,

Each year is a new and exciting opportunity for us, as every child’s story is yet to be told. We are honored to be the beginning chapter in these children's educational adventure. Whether it’s a child’s first day at pre-school or a returning VMS student, every moment at VMS is a step towards a future filled with boundless and lifelong learning.

We are back at school this semester, ready to educate and serve the community, refreshed and stronger than ever. We appreciate our community near and far and realize that a school without it’s community is like a car without fuel.

We started the year on a high note, getting organized and prepared, and in early January we hosted a team building event for VMS staff. Included in these sessions was information on the importance of self-care and mental health. The meeting was deemed a success by all in attendance including the chairman of the VMS board.

On January 15th we extended a warm welcome ,once again, to all our VMS families, especially our new members. With the little ones we often see tears the first week of school. Children may try to run away from their classroom or refuse meals having been told ‘not to eat food from strangers.’ Fortunately, things quickly get easier as children learn the daily routines. We appreciate our teachers who are so good at working through these issues and taking such good care of our children’s emotional and educational needs.

Our current enrolment is 113 students and break down into toddlers (age 1–2), 22 students; pre-school (age 3–4), 37 students; grade R (age 5–6 )27 students; grade 1 (age 6-7) 15 students; and grade 2 (age 7-8) 12 students. We have 10 staff members, six educators, two cooks, two cleaners, and two garden staff. We also have 3 volunteers, 1 that helps with school administration and 2 are classroom aids.

In February we celebrated Valentine’s Day. Children and staff dressed in red and white. Each child received a rose and a card made by the class teacher. There was also traditional dancing and sweet snacks for everyone. It was a day filled with love, while creating good memories for all. We appreciate everyone who made this day special for our children.

On February 18, we received the dreadful news that our only male teacher, Tshifhiwa Ravhutulu, 25 years old, was hit by a bus and died on the scene. He had joined VMS in March 2023 and was a perfect fit for our school. He was a great communicator and a very humble soul. He would go the extra mile to ensure children's academics were in order, had a great relationship with parents and the children loved him dearly. He taught a combined grade 1 and 2 classroom. In 2023 two of his students won best student in the Nzhelele East Circuit in Mathematics and English. He was truly one of a kind. The children in his class were devastated as was the community as a whole. We received support from near and far and are thankful for all of you who sent condolences and support.

At the end of February, we bid farewell to our principal, Ms. Mukwevho, who has been with us since 2014, initially teaching toddlers, then as our pre-school and grade R teacher. In 2018, she was promoted to the position of school principal. She did an excellent job during her time with us and we wish her the very best in the future. She has plans to follow her heart as a business woman, while still living near the school. She has offered to help when we need her.

Based on these expected and unexpected changes, the past two months have been difficult for everyone at VMS. Monday morning following the loss of our teacher and retirement of our principal, as I opened the school gates to admit our children, I was feeling the loss of a dear friend, one of our finest teachers and our principal. It was difficult but I remembered the saying ‘life begins where your comfort zone ends’ and believed we would continue on stronger and better over time.

Now to introduce our new teachers, Precious Malise from Tshikombani village, who holds a Bachelor in Foundation Phase from the University of Venda is teaching grade 2. Ravhugoni Maria also holds a degree in Foundation Phase and is teaching grade 1. Both joined VMS on March 1st. Ms. Radzuma has taken the position of acting principal. She has been working at VMS since 2015 as a preschool educator and in 2019 was promoted to deputy principal.

On March 22nd, we hosted a parent consultation meeting. 66 parents and guardians attended the meeting. Parents and guardians got to know each other, peruse the children’s schoolwork, and build relationships to benefit their child. We are thankful for the large turnout of parents and guardians in attendance and who show such support for VMS and their children.

Our vegetable garden continues to produce fresh vegetables, provide daily meals to VMS children and we distribute food parcels to needy families. I am so grateful to the staff and volunteers who provide their time and energy to help in the gardens.

Feedback from parents and neighboring schools are that children from VMS are doing exceptionally well as they move on from VMS to higher grades. I am so grateful to our educators for all their hard work.

We are looking into a new playground structure that will hold up over time. We received a quote from a local service provider for a permanent steel playscape structure, 14m x 8m and covered for shade or rainy weather. Our current playground is wood and constantly needing repairs. The total cost will be R72 493 including labour. We have received a donation of R26 000 to date and will continue fundraising for the remainder.

We are so thankful and grateful to our extended families from around the world including the Church of Scotland, Hope for Limpopo and the many individuals whose continuous support helps us provide and meet the nutritional and educational needs of our students. Thank you so much for making all of this possible.


Khathu Nemafhohoni

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