My favorite aspect of a school, like most, is the numerous opportunities for learning that exist there. However, I think there are two major misconceptions that many people, especially educators (myself included) often make in relation to this idea:

1st – the classroom, library and lab ARE NOT the only places where learning can take place.

2nd – opportunities for learning SHOULD NOT be reserved only for the students. A school environment changes when it feels like a group endeavor, where all parties: students, teachers, administrators etc. are working toward something together, collaboratively. Personally, I have never encountered more learning opportunities than I have while serving as Daraja Academy’s principal-teacher-bus driver-clerk-janitor-councilor-chair of the art dept.-athletic director-&-friend.

My latest profound learning op:

Jua Kali in Swahili literally translates as “Hot Sun”. It also is a commonly used colloquialism that refers to a class of workers who get by on initiative, applied knowledge of their trade and experience rather than extensive technical training and a high-end shop and equipment. Nearly all jua kali workers do in fact work out in the hot African sun, most often on roadsides, abandon lots or parks. There are jua kali tailors, jua kali welders, jua kali mechanic etc. Often their work is comparable or better than their top end competition and it is always cheaper.

Jua Kali is also the name of a town that sits along the road 5 kilometers south of the Daraja Academy campus. Everybody who reaches our campus by vehicle at least, passes through Jua Kali. It is a small and very dirty town. True to its name, most of its inhabitance are jua kali workers who walk, peddle or matatu (packed mini-van) the 15+ miles to Nanyuki everyday. They return home tired and the prospects of eating, tending house and sleeping rank higher than walking the half-mile to the town’s trash receptacle. Unfortunately after several years, neglected trash blows around and accumulates.