In line with the original dream for providing a space, that is, a school where boys would be empowered and helped to be ready to meet the challenges unique to men in the 21st century, academics would not be enough preparation. We knew that boys learn best by direct experience rather than by lecturing, we begun the program right when the school begun in 2004. The Mentorship program was the brainchild of Joan Ngumi, who loves the challenge that outdoor activities brings; hiking, camping, mountain climbing, and begun taking the boys along with her when she would go camping.
They had such fun, but most especially there was a noticeable positive difference in how the boys interacted with themselves, there was a positive shift in their self esteem. That is how 14 years later, our Mentorship program is still going strong.
Over the years, mentorship has expanded into 4 arms:
- Outdoor Leadership training
- Psychometric Testing
- Pastoral Care
- Group and Individual counseling
Outdoor Leadership Training
Our Outdoor Leadership training is about teaching life skills in an outdoor setting. Following the training curriculum by Outward Bound International and using Outward Bound trainers, each student is required to go for a 10 day camp into the wild bush country, at least once in their 4 year stay at Gladphil school. During the 10 days, boys learn self reliance, how to handle discomfort, how to work cooperatively with the others. They learn to follow instruction, to listen to their inner voice, to identity who one is, not whom one has been told is. All this is always has a transformative effect on the boy. He becomes confident, more comfortable in his own skin, embracing his abilities and no longer tied down and needing to hide his weaknesses.
The Outdoor Leadership training is a program that is widely popular among our students and their parents. We invite students from other schools to join us on the camp, creating a diverse group. The 10 day camp takes place during school holidays, especially in November, after school closes for the Christmas holidays.
In the history of Gladphil, in each year group, we deliberately take on a mix of students, those who are academically gifted, as well as those that are not. Giftedness is an element that we care very dearly about at our school. Giftedness is not dependent on academic achievement, because even the poorest student has some talent, some gift, often more than one giftedness. We feel that what matters is allowing a student to figure out what ones’ talent, ones gifts are. Because these gifts, and the development of them, are what determine what one’s career trajectory will be, not their grades. Therefore we always have, in each year group, boys who have learning challenges, for whom we provide the care and training that each one needs to be able to develop and perform well in their studies. We also are careful to find out together with our students, what ones gifts are and help them explore them.
To find out what one’s abilities are, we use Psychometric testing. We are a testing center for the World Council for Giftedness, one of three centers in Kenya. We test all our students in secondary school in form one, to find out what their abilities and challenges are, regardless of whether they performed highly in their KCPE exam or not. We involve their parents, as this information is important for them to know as well. It is at this point that we begin the conversations in career counseling and helping the student figure out what subject combinations will best suit him, in the career paths that are open to him. This testing allows us to bring to focus non-academic subjects, such as sports and the arts, that are also a central part of our school. We are able to then guide and support the student in their stay at Gladphil, as well as be a contribution to their life and careers after high school.
Gladphil, built on the Chrisitan faith, nonetheless is a Christian non-denominational school. We have among us, students from different denominations, as well as different faiths. That had been the dream and intention of our Founder Rev Dr Godfrey Ngumi, who was a Presbyterian minister and lecturer of Theology.
We have worship twice a week as well as on Sunday mornings. Our worship program is created before the term begins, and it involves different church youth groups, priests and ministers who are in charge of Sunday worship during the term. All students are expected to attend Sunday worship, except Muslims, for whom, this is optional. Our Muslim students are encouraged to follow their daily schedule of prayers in their prayer room, and we ensure that they are able to observe their religious practices throughout the school year.
Group and Individual Counseling
Counseling is a big part of our culture at Gladphil, run as it is by two counselors. We believe that good emotional and mental health is key to a student being able to perform at their best, and to interact well within our school community.
Individual counseling is provided by an independent highly trained school counselor who comes to school. Individual counseling is a service that allows a student who may be struggling with drug issues, parental strife, self identity or self esteem issues and the whole range of issues that teenagers struggle with to get help.
Group counseling allows our students to sort out issues that they may be having in a group setting. We use this group setting to take our boys through the Boys to Men Program. This is the program that helps our boys to understand and explore the issues that they struggle with in being male in this day and age.