Grade 12 pupil and Head Prefect, Thembalethu Seyisi, beams with pride as he shares his journey from being in the top 15 student list to become top two Grade 11 student at his school last year. The embodiment of hard work, Thembalethu, explains how his exposure at Salesian Life Choices led him to academic excellence.
“When I first heard about the Leaders’ Quest programme I was unsure about joining. I thought that to give up all my Saturdays for the next two years was insane. However, when I spoke to my older sister (27), she motivated me to join and said that I would benefit from the free tutoring. I thought about it and decided to join – it has been one of the best decisions in my life.”
Leaders’ Quest is a Salesian Life Choices intervention that works with Grade 11, 12 and post matric youth from low income communities. It combines leadership training, experiential activities and academic tutoring. The aim of the program is to mold a generation of young leaders from developing communities to become influential decision makers in a quest to better their lives and their communities.
Thembalethu says that before starting the tutoring he got an average of 50%, but after the training his aggregate went up to 75% with his English improving the most.
“My English mark went up from 50% – 87%. I can directly say that the tutoring I received made the difference. The tutor is amazing, her method of teaching helped me understand better. My English class at school has 46 kids, some of the children would be disruptive and the teacher would use most of the time to reprimand them rather than teach. The school’s teacher is good but because of the class size it gets difficult. The Leaders’ Quest tutoring class has less than 20 kids and we all want to learn. It makes a big difference”. Thembalethu says that his Leaders’ Quest tutor often went the extra mile for the learners as well.
“She told us that she teaches History and I took the opportunity to ask if she could help me with an essay I was writing for the subject. She went through the different parts of the essay and expained it to me. Having that one-on-one really helped me”.
The results of attending the different tutoring sessions, combined with a renewed commitment to study harder were soon noticed. Thembalethu made it on the honor role at his school for academic excellence for the first time since joining the school in Grade 9.
“It is not easy to get something that you never had. I had to study and work extra hard. It is an amazing feeling, I am really proud of myself”.
As he continues on his journey both in academic excellence and leadership, Thembalethu says that he is excited about his Grade 12 year, his role as a head prefect and his future in general.
“Since joining Leaders’ Quest we have often spoken about our goals and dreams. Doing this has expanded the way I think about my future. In Grade 11, my school group planned and implemented a Radio Presenting Course as part of our Leaders’ Quest fundraising activity. I was surprised when I realized that a career in media was something that I could be passionate about. My coach has also spoken to me about it, he has given me the options of where I could study and more importantly we have talked about the marks I need to be ac-cepted to study journalism. I am excited!”
”I am also excited with the opportunity to practice the skills that Leaders’ Quest has taught me in my new role as the head perfect. I believe I will be a good servant leader to my peers and I will be of assistance to the school.”
In a recent task at school the pupils were told to give an oral presentation, Thembalethu saw this as an opportunity to share the messages that he has learnt from Leaders’ Quest.
“We were given various topics to choose from and I chose Motivational Speaking. I really wanted to share few things I have learned through the program like the power of communication and the power of saying affirma-tions. I have used the affirmation of: “I feel so proud and happy that I managed to get a 75% average in my Grade 11 results.” I started saying this affirmation to myself during the middle of the year. Twice a day and I would repeat it as I walked to and from school. My affirmation worked like a bomb, because I ranked in the top two. Today, I am continuing to do it and want to share the skill and tool with my peers”.
For Thembalethu, it was the combination of tutoring, new skills, hard work, determination and the belief that he could achieve his goal that has made all the difference. Being part of Leaders’ Quest, according to Thembalethu, has been priceless in his journey.