Full Circle: Spirit Education Foundation

For this edition of Full Circle, we celebrate the growth of SEF. As previously shared, SEF was our first venture into philanthropic giving over 29 years ago. The demand for scholarships and participation in our mentorship programme provides us with continued motivation to make a difference in every scholar’s life. Below we share some of the highlights of our first part of the year. VOICE At the beginning of this year, Spirit Education Foundation welcomed to our programme 140 scholars in total across all grades. Our new scholarships increased by 18 above our normal intake of 20 scholars per year. In 2023, the mentorship programme theme follows the curated acronym VOICE, which stands for Values, Opportunities, Inclusivity, Choice, and Excellence. Throughout the year, all mentorship moments will reflect on scholars’ voices, what they use them for, how they use them and how they can facilitate inclusion through listening to other voices. Each school visit, milkshake moment and individual tutoring session evaluates at least one of the five letters elevating the voices of our scholars through connection and relationship building. Alumni In 2023 we said goodbye to 22 Grade 12 students who received their NSC results and we are proud that every scholar has been enrolled in a tertiary programme at various institutions across the country. A wonderful matric lunch was held to officially welcome them into our Alumni programme which focuses on continued mentorship, networking, and volunteering. The programme allows us to track the progress and the impact that our scholarships have had on shaping their dreams. It is through the longitudinal tracking that we are able to congratulate a number of graduates in 2023. Mymoena Davids (2014) graduated with a Masters in Chemistry Cum Laude from UWC and has joined a research team at UCT to further her studies, Saarah Abrahams (2019), graduated with a BA Humanities and has been accepted to do her Post Graduate Certificate in Education through the Jakes Gerwel Scholarship organisation from the University of Western Cape. Anees Esau (2015) graduated with a PhD from the University of Stellenbosch and is doing his community service in Kimberley. Ted Tarasenga (Grade 12, 2015) is studying his Masters in Energy for Society in Groningen, Netherlands. Lutho Gwandiso (2019), completed his Architecture degree and is doing his practical internship this year.   SEF Camp June is a highlight month for SEF as we celebrate Youth Month in South Africa. SEF celebrates this through various activities and engagements with our youth. Most memorable is the annual SEF camp. For three nights, 140 scholars embark on a time away from school pressures, city hustle and bustle and are given the space to enjoy themselves. Throughout the camp, activities are run by facilitators that develop better connections among each other, forming a better understanding of the use of their voices, problem solving, teamwork, getting muddy on a hike, listening to nature, the crackle of firewood at the bonfire and the sheer enjoyment of drumming and dancing under the stars. The scholars find handing in their phones a challenge, but after three nights, they are wildly surprised by the new, deeper friendships and connections they have made. Mentoring our youth to use their voice also requires them to respond respectfully to other voices and noises that the world presents to them. Being in nature, appreciating the quiet sounds and the positive sound of laughter has a refreshing effect on the soul. It unites them as family beyond their own, they are the Spirit Family. Feet4Fees   The third annual Feet4Fees fundraiser also held on Youth Day 16 June was nothing less than a roaring success. 100 athletes ascended the Goliath Hill of Groot Constantia Wine Estate on an overcast and chilly morning. The support from corporate companies Fluid Energy, Keller Williams and Running Wild made 2023’s event a massive success. It was a community gathering with the cross-country athletes from Floreat Primary School also joining in with their families. Scholars and their families came to assist with the route and marshalling along the way. It was an even greater honour to have Deputy Mayor, Alderman Eddie Andrews, open the event and start the runners along the route. The proceeds raised go directly toward the improvement of mentorship and financial assistance to scholars in the SEF scholarship programme. Feet4Fees gains great traction every year and raises over R20 000, a joint effort in running for good and empowering the youth of our country. Building our nation through education. Feeder Schools SEF works closely with 12 partnership high schools in the Southern Suburbs. Schools are selected and monitored across the SEF values as well as deemed schools of excellence and quality. Through our partnership with high schools, we empower feeder schools in the programme to build relationships and ensure that learners most in need and with the greatest potential are given adequate opportunities to apply to partnership high schools, as well as to the SEF Scholarship programme. SEF has built up relationships with 18 feeder primary schools in the southern suburbs, namely: York Road, Turfhall, Floreat, Constantia PS, Muizenberg Junior, Leiden, Heathfield, Southfield, St Anthony’s RC, West end Primary, Bergvliet, Kirstenhof, Sweet Valley, Westcott, Harmony, Sid G Rule, Fairview and Square Hill. These are all on our feeder school list. The feeder school programme includes assistance with the recruitment process, application forms, thus ensuring direct and effective communication is received by all Grade six learners and parents, together with small upliftment projects within the schools requiring attention. Holiday programme and study hall The holidays in high school can be daunting. They are sometimes long and for some without the financial means to be entertained, it can also be quite boring. Through the mentorship programme, SEF offers their scholars an outing during the longer holidays, as well as events to improve their skills together with community service events that instil a culture of giving back. During the June holidays an outing to the Cape Town Science Centre was arranged. The centre truly makes science come alive with the presentations, experiments and the opportunity to come face-to-face with some interesting chemical reactions results in the interest being sparked, leaving scholars motivated by the scientific phenomenon and the way the world works. Sometimes they leave with more questions than answers, which ignites their critical and creative thinking pathways. We also enhance the holiday outing experiences through a job shadowing and vacation work programme, as well as some important life skills, such as driving and swimming. For Mandela Day, the SEF team attended one of the feeder schools in Delft, Leiden Primary School and engaged with all Grade six learners on the importance of reading and literacy. The SEF Camp SEF camp adventure team building staff hosted an English Second Language lesson, bringing a new energy and excitement to the school regarding the importance of English reading and literacy. Diverse gamified activities were conducted as a class and in smaller groups. The teachers were thrilled to learn new strategies and be given some new resources aligned to the curriculum. “Thank you, I have learnt more today watching this lesson than I did at college seven years ago”, was one of the teacher’s responses. Sharing best practices and empowering our teachers is just as important as doing the same for our scholars. One of the Grade six learners said, “I’ll never forget the opportunities the horse (Spirit) can give me, I can have a dream”. We certainly look forward to receiving their applications and making their dreams come true. We encourage primary schools in the area to reach out to SEF to participate in the feeder school programme and to afford all learners the opportunity to apply for a scholarship and to the high schools. Holiday programme and study hall The holidays in high school can be daunting. They are sometimes long and for some without the financial means to be entertained, it can also be quite boring. Through the mentorship programme, SEF offers their scholars an outing during the longer holidays, as well as events to improve their skills together with community service events that instil a culture of giving back. During the June holidays an outing to the Cape Town Science Centre was arranged. The centre truly makes science come alive with the presentations, experiments and the opportunity to come face-to-face with some interesting chemical reactions results in the interest being sparked, leaving scholars motivated by the scientific phenomenon and the way the world works. Sometimes they leave with more questions than answers, which ignites their critical and creative thinking pathways. We also enhance the holiday outing experiences through a job shadowing and vacation work programme, as well as some important life skills, such as driving and swimming. In May, we launched a new pilot project to offer a safe and conducive study environment for scholars to learn before the June exams. This project took off like wildfire and was very well received. Learners came on two Saturday mornings and were hosted in a study space that was quiet, offered tutors, a study schedule, past papers and most importantly (according to them) were the nutritious study snacks and mingling time between the breaks. Through our mentorship programme it was evident that the jump from primary school to high school is not only intense in its workload, but also in the new study methods required of our scholars. Some were studying on their beds, in the kitchen with family buzzing around or lying on the floor in the lounge. Developing good healthy study habits from a young age will benefit scholars as the workload begins to intensify as well as developing a new level of independent studying and responsibility towards their studying, unlike when they were in primary school.