Monday, June 27, 2011

Game On!

Khaya reports that eSibonisweni recently held netball and soccer matches against Khulangolwazi Primary School. "It was the first time for us to play...on a new netbal and basketbal court with another school," he writes. Before the matches began, there were drama performances from both schools, and everyone witnessed "amazing talents."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Water to Flow into eSibonisweni

It's been a long time coming, but the water-pump project is finally nearing completion at the school. Khayalihle, assistant to the administrators, writes, "We are about to finish our project to get water from underground. I feel great because that will be the end of water crisis in our school. We will be able to water and mantain our soccer field and water the garden."

Maintenance of the soccer field and garden were of real concern due to the extreme lack of water pressure on campus, and our intern Zack last spring spent a lot of time puzzling out how to fix the situation. As the pictures show, the garden was thriving during our visit, but its health was due to the labor of teachers and community members who filled buckets and carried them throughout to water it. During our visit, one group worked hard to devise a drip-irrigation system that several of the older boys at the school helped to install.

Khaya also reports that he, administrator Simon Gumede, teacher Bongani, and a new teacher named Miss Nsele are now responsible for maintaining the garden.

That's Simon Gumede on the right, an administrator at eSibonisweni
and one of the caretakers of the garden

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lisa Becker Skype Report

Teacher Lisa Becker has been Skyping with some eSibonisweni teachers regularly on the weekends! She recently talked with Simangele, Nomusa, and John.

The news…

One of the reception year teachers, Pearl Mdluli, may come on as another mentor to the Girls’ Scholarship Program. If you haven’t already, please visit the Web page for the eSicabazini Girls’ Scholarship Program.

We are still puzzling through getting 3G cards for those who were here in January to improve our connectivity; there remain significant obstacles to getting regular Internet access on the eSibonisweni campus.

We were all saddened to learn earlier this year that John had been moved by the ward (large district office) to another school due to lower enrollment at eSibonisweni. This was the first time he’d talked with Simangele and Nomusa since the start of the school year. Although he misses his colleagues, he is enjoying teaching music at his new school. Watch again the video of his students performing a song he wrote.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Trivia Night is coming up on March 4. This is an annual fundraiser for the eSibonisweni Primary Orphan Program, or ePOP, and it has become a rip-roaring event. Hosted by the seventh and eighth graders, participants include sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students and families; alumni; and faculty members. The questions are devised by trivia master (and Saint Mark’s media specialist) Chad Forrester and may involve singing and dancing. So, if you fall into any of those categories, get your team costumes together and come prepared for loony audience participation at any moment.

You don't have to pre-register. Cost is $20, payable at the door, and the event goes from 6 to 9 p.m.

This is our sixth annual Trivia Night, and we know it will be as successful as events past. Supporting ePOP is also a great way to celebrate again our South African delegation. This program was dreamed up by teachers at eSibonisweni as a way to address the pressing needs of some of their students. Let’s support the teachers in their efforts to improve the lives of their learners.

The winning team from 2010. That trohpy is ridiculously huge.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Girls' Scholarship Web Site

Go here now:

This school year, we have gained so much traction in our partnership with eSibonisweni Primary School, and we are striking again while the iron is hot.

One of the most important initiatives to come out of our visits to the school is the Girls’ Scholarship Programs, started by Saint Mark’s parent Lynn West, who also serves as the U.S. director, and managed by three experienced mentor teachers at eSibonisweni: Simangele Ntshangase, local program head; Khanyi Mkhize, treasurer; and Nomusa Khanyile, secretary. Lynn and Fernanda Pernambuco have created a new Web site with loads of information about the GSP, as well as the reasons why it is so crucial to focus on increasing educational opportunities for girls in particular. Fernanda and her husband, Zach, worked on our behalf for three months at eSibonisweni in 2010, in advance of our last delegation visit.

Two classes of female scholars have now gone on to Dumangeze, the high school nearest to eSibonisweni. The local area is commonly known as eSicabazini, so the program has been renamed eSicabazini Girls' Scholarship Programs now that we are supporting girls at the high school level.
One of the learners who visited us here at Saint Mark’s in January is a scholarship recipient. Slindile has just begun high school at Dumangeze, and we will be following her progress and that of the other scholars. Kudos to the mentor teachers as well. They go above and beyond in their work with the girls and show impressive commitment to the GSP.

The Web site is an exciting development in the life of the program, so visit, share it, spread the word!

Monday, January 24, 2011

To parents of Saint Marks School

We had a wonderful time with you, you gave us a smile, you gave us joy and your gave us new hope. We have seen your total commitment in teaching and learing as parents, I have learnt, that, yes indeed parents can make a significant contribution in teaching and learning. Your teachers are so passionate about teaching, teaching is in their veins, keep their veins running, your investment in education mean a lot to us, because it is not only your investment, but it is for the whole world.

Viva parents of St Marks school Viva!!!!!!


Friday, January 21, 2011

Passport to South Africa

All our teachers and students enjoyed another spectacular Passport Day. This is an annual event for Saint Mark's, during which we visit a particular country or region. We learn about the people, languages, music, dance, traditions, arts, crafts, and natural features of the chosen destination. We've been to Native America, around the Black Sea, to the Middle East, and to Brazil.

In 2011, we capitalized on having the delegation here from our South African partner school and let our guests run the show! They worked hard until the last day to get their lessons and stories ready. And, as noted by our Passport Day chairs, Jenny Peng and Lisa Der Legge, "It takes a village," and our community rallied to get it all organized, from the food to the rotation schedule. 

Sausalito-based watercolorist Gabrielle Moore-Gordon graciously allowed the reproduction of some of her artwork to illustrate our Seven Pillars of Character. With the design of parent Cornelia Fauser, we had beautiful posters around campus.

Here's to another amazing Passport Day!

Moeketse (center), Aaron (right), and a third professional drummer set up at the front of the school and set the beat for the day.

Singing for us
Drumming workshop
Making bead necklaces

Telling stories
Teaching about the region Maputaland

Wayne Getz, professor of environmental science at UC Berkeley, presents about the animals and habitats of Southern Africa, and about the tension between human development and habitat conservation. He was assisted by alumna Alexa Stevens '06.