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Headmistress with motherly instincts

By SYLVIA WAKHISI | Updated Sat, September 14th 2013 at 00:00 GMT +3
 Flora is married with three children, all of whom are in boarding schools     PHOTO: The Standard

BY SYLVIA WAKHISI

She has won the hearts of many because of her warm personality, which has seen her students refer to her as ‘mum’. To them, she exhibits the golden character of a strong mother who is always there for her children. She is not only approachable and easy to listen to; she also has a lot of passion for her work.

Her dedicated nature to her work is what saw her win the Machakos County Principal of the Year award and nationally, she emerged position four.

She is none other than Flora Mulatya, the Principal of Machakos Girls High School. Since she took over, the school has recorded exemplary academic improvement.

 The school emerged tops in Machakos County in last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examinations (KCSE) posting an improved mean score of 9.26, beating their perennial academic rivals, Machakos Boys High School which came second with a mean score of 9.1.

Born and bred in Kibwezi in a family of nine siblings, Flora, 46, says she grew up in a moderate upbringing.

“My late dad who used to work at the Makindu Meteorological department was our sole breadwinner. Despite the many challenges, he took all of us to school and ensured we received the best education because it is something he greatly valued,” she says.

Her teaching career spans way back to 1992 after she graduated from Moi University with a Bachelor of Education degree.

 

She was first posted to Kitise Secondary School in Makueni County where she taught for three years before she was promoted to the post of deputy head-teacher. In 1997, she was appointed the headteacher, a post she held till December 1998.

She later left for Good Shepherd Girls Secondary School in Makueni as the head teacher where she served between 1999 and 2005 before she was transferred to Mbooni Girls Secondary School in 2006.

 In 2009, she was posted to Machakos Girls High School in Machakos County as principal, a post she has diligently held to date.

“It has been 14 years serving as a head teacher, and I must say I have achieved great satisfaction. I love my work and dedicate a lot of time to it. What inspires me most is to transform the lives of students,” says Flora. To Flora, moving from Mbooni Girls to Machakos Girls was the most challenging time in her career.

“I was posted from a high performing to a low performing school, and many people wondered how I would manage. I must say that at first, I didn’t take it kindly. It hit me, but not for too long. God saw me through and together with the support of the students, teachers all went well,” she says.

Flora can now sit and smile for walking with Machakos Girls in a journey she detested at the beginning.

“It makes me happy to see the way the school has been transformed. When I walk around the school and see the teamwork exhibited by the teachers and the students, it makes me want to give my best and not let them down,” she says. “I want to make Machakos Girls an outstanding school.”

When she joined the school in 2009, its mean score stood at 7.9. In 2010, it jumped to 8.0. After the slight improvement Flora realised more could be achieved.

In 2011 its mean score hit 8.8. Last year, the school got 9.26 drowning the giants in the region. Flora, however, says that such an achievement comes with its challenges. Her typical working day begins at five.

Apart from holding the top most seat in the school, she is also a teacher and her subject is CRE.

Flora believes she has been put there to ensure every girl who goes through the school has a story to tell.

NETBALL PLAYER

She also spares time to counsel and talk to the students and engage in extra curricula activities. She is part of the school’s netball team.

 “Most of the times, I leave the office at around 10pm, but I am happy the long hours of my work don’t go to waste. I can now see the fruits of my labour,” she says.

So, what has been the secret to the sterling performance by Machakos Girls?

 “Teamwork,” she says. “I involve everybody. I am very close to my students and teachers. Sometimes, we take meals together and hold prayer sessions every morning, and at the beginning and end of every term. We are a family and this bond has kept us going and aiming higher.”

 Flora has also set targets for the girls, which has been behind the school’s success.

“As much as I am very close and accessible to the girls, I am also a firm disciplinarian, discipline breeds success, so the girls always put that in mind” she says.

Flora has also introduced ICT as well as a French language resource centre in the school. In all the schools she has served in, Flora has left an indelible mark. From Kitise to Good Shepherd to Mbooni and now to Machakos Girls, she has inspired many.

So what is her secret and recipe to such success ?

“When I became a teacher, I did not think twice about it. To me, it was the best career. However, I will not want to retire as a teacher. I am still dreaming of going higher and take up a more challenging job,” says Flora.

“Women should take up whatever challenges that come their way. They can do great things and need to give education a priority because it is the route to a successful life,” she says.

She attended Kalulini Primary School from 1975-1981 and proceeded to Kalulini Secondary School (a day school) in Kibwezi for her O-levels from 1982-1985.

She later went to Kaaga Girls High School in Meru for her A-levels.

She got herself a ticket to Moi University between 1988 and 1992 where she pursued her Bachelors of Education.

She has an MA in Education Administration from the University of Nairobi.

When she is not in school, you will find Flora in her rural home in Kalimbini Village in Sultan Hamud with other women. Flora is also a farmer.