At St Joseph’s High School in Kitale, individual capabilities are appreciated among students, teachers and the non-teaching staff in equal measure making the institution a tight-knit community.
The school which attained national status just two years ago is proving to be a giant among schools of similar stature.
And in its glory, School Principal Peter Obwogo has his imprint therein. Since taking over the school in 2003, Mr Obwogo has mentored many students including the current Member of Parliament for Cherengany Constituency Wesley Korir and national 7s rugby player Dan Sikuta, among others.
“I took over this school when it had just posted a mean score of 6.8 in the previous year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education but together with my teachers, we set out on an ambitious programme to improve on these results. Last year, we had risen to a mean score of 10.9 and this year we are aiming to achieve 11 and even higher,” says a confident Obwogo.
Each year, the school sets ambitious targets to achieve in both the academic and co-curricular activities, a scenario that has witnessed its fast growth in both fields.
“I believe in planning together with all stakeholders to achieve our set goals because without planning, this school would have remained exactly where I found it. We have cultivated a strong working relationship with the teachers and even non-teaching staff that no one can differentiate between a teacher and a worker. This is the environment that has brought us to where we are,” says Obwogo.
It’s due to such achievements that, during this year’s Secondary Schools Heads Conference in Mombasa, Obwogo beat a crowded field to bag the prestigious Principal of the Year Award (POYA).
POYA is the highest award given to any school head. Factors that determine a winner include the ability to lead, handle challenges in the education sector and even improve on both the curricular and co-curricular fields.
“When I went for the POYA competition, my teachers, students, the non-teaching staff and myself knew that the time was ripe due to what we had achieved over the years at this school.
There was a lot of confidence that we were the best nationally. Before I left for the conference, they all told me not to step back here without the award. And we achieved it!”
In what promises to be an achievement of its own class, Obwogo has established an educational fund named after him that sponsors bright but needy students from the school and within the school community.
The fund has already benefited 78 students, most of whom are already pursuing their education in institutions of higher learning in the country.
“Through the contributions from myself and friends, I intend to ensure that no child remains at home due to lack of school fees because someone like me was educated in a similar manner. Stretching my hand to help another deserving case won’t hurt in any way,” he says.
Education research organisation Uwezo Kenya says in its latest report that school leadership does not only end at ensuring students win in academics.
It indeed influences their character even in later life.
John Mugo, the founder of the Uwezo programme at Twaweza East Africa says, “Many people in life unconsciously become what their school heads made them to be. School leadership is as key as parenting in the whole process of acquiring knowledge and skills.”