Secret behind top grades at Moi High School Kabarak

Moi High School Kabarak Executive Director who is also the Kabarak University Vice Chancellor Prof Henry Kiplagat interacting with students of Moi High School Kabarak at the school on January 9, 2024. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

In the realms of education where words are often hailed as catalysts of inspiration, Elisheba Cheruiyot, the chief principal of Moi High School – Kabarak, seems to defy that convention.

For nine years, she has led an academic giant, steering it and skidding through the rough academic journey, yet with few words. In a first-time interaction, one can easily spot humility as her character.

“Many people think I do not talk much, and they are right. I am usually calm most of the time,” she says.

For almost 30 years, she has been imparting knowledge to students as a Business and Commerce teacher and at the helm of the institution in the last 14 years.

For five years, Mrs Cheruiyot was the deputy principal at the school before being promoted to the school’s chief principal.

“I have been teaching for close to 30 years now. It is a dream I pursued at the university after I changed courses when I realised this is what I wanted,” she says.

Cheruiyot previously enrolled at the university to pursue a Bachelor of Arts but changed her mind when she realised she wanted to pursue a course that could impact many people, especially young minds.

Moi High School Kabarak Chief Principal Elisheba Cheruiyot during an interview at the School in Nakuru County on January 9, 2024. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

“Last year, we called her Mama Jonathan because our class was named ‘The Jonathan’s”. She is a great mother whom we looked up to,” says Neema Toigat, a student who scored A- (minus).

But it is her nurturing skill that seems to have transformed the school into a family unit that stands out.

“When you see us here celebrating every year, it takes a strong-willed woman to pull such. She is exemplary and has made everyone understand what they are required of,” said the Rev Dr Paul Ombati, the school’s chaplain.

To Cheruiyot, it is the strategy, the focus, the spirit and teamwork that propel a school to greatness.

Within the school that nurtures over 2,000 students, family units are key. These units comprise students – a mix of boys and girls – assigned to a teacher who is tasked with keeping track records of individual students.

“We are a large family unit here within the school. Each teacher is assigned students whom they nurture and ensure their academic, health, and spiritual journey matters. The teachers keep track to ensure that everyone’s needs are attended to and on time,” Cheruiyot said.

She adds: “There is a reason why families are comprised of boys and girls. They are usually brought up together, and we are just doing the same here. We wanted to create units that make students care for one another and compete favourably.”

But how does she manage to keep the shine and maintain the transformative academic giant roaring?

For Cheruiyot, it is the power of inclusivity that matters.

At the beginning of every academic year, the school management meets to map out strategies and decide the targets for the next class. Each year, the target is higher than the last.

But making sure that they achieve the targets, she says, takes ‘team teaching’, a strategy that incorporates revising the syllabus in teams.

In team teaching, she says all the eight streams are at par, and no one is left behind.

“During the first academic day, we give parents the strategy detailing how we want to perform that year. The strategy also goes to the board, which now budgets for all that is needed to achieve the targets. If a field trip is involved, then it is budgeted at the beginning of the year,” she says. 

In the strategy, the students’ ideas are also factored.

“Students decide on individual needs and put together what they want, and we factor these needs into these plans,” she adds.

Individual needs might include practical lessons for sciences in the laboratory, where times are slotted for students.

Moi High School Kabarak students reported back to the school during the school opening day for term one on January 9, 2024. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

To brew academic passion among the students, she says that once students report to school in their first year, they are taken through guidance, counseling and career path where they express their goals and what they want to be.

“Each child has to have something they are working towards and that is why we have them to go through this. This also helps us come up with a plan and help the student achieve that. They are advised on subjects to pursue and give preference and also a general goal on what they have to achieve,” she says.

Besides internal guidance on career paths, the students are also exposed to different professions and mentors every year in June.

During the event, which is often organised by the Moi High School-Kabarak alumni, professionals and universities offering different courses attend. They guide students on courses of their preference and even tips on how to attain the marks.

“At the form four-level, they already know what to concentrate on because mentorship here is a continuous thing,” she adds.

But it is not only the academic prowess that Cheruiyot has nurtured at Kabarak, she also emphasises diverse talents, including football, and chess, among other activities.

The students have also been participating in national and international activities and have attended several competitions at Yale University.

“At the end of the day, we want all-round students who can impact people and can be leaders in their rights,” she added.

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