When I first met the 15 Dream School kids, I was jealous. No, really. Classes with some of the best teachers in the world? A chance to rub shoulders with South Africa’s best and brightest? What an opportunity! Yup, I admit it, I was jealous.
But then I got to know them. And my jealousy quickly turned to guilt.
Take Natasha – sweet, dramatic, lovable Natasha from Mitchell’s Plain in the Western Cape. Within minutes, she had giggled her way into my heart. She’s almost always smiling, and her bright hazel eyes shine when she’s the centre of attention. Have you noticed how she goes out of her way to make loner Trevor a part of the group, gently coaxing him out of his shell?
But kind-hearted Natasha is 17 and still in Grade 10. She is a bright teenager, who has had to face some awful things at home (more on this in a later blog), and is doing badly at school because she struggles to focus. She says the teachers at her school have never sat down offered her the support she needs to make it through matric. What is so frustrating is that Natasha could do it – she’s not a stupid kid. She’s a fighter. She just needs someone to put that glimmer back in her eyes. A glimmer that I saw every day that she was at Dream School. When I got to know Natasha, I found myself thinking, “She deserves this chance.”
Then there’s gawky, shy Trevor from Durban. Natasha, Trevor’s polar opposite in every way, took to him like a mother hen with a particularly awkward hatchling. Trevor (16), who dropped out of his high school after repeating Grade 10, explains that his schooling has been characterised by teachers pointing fingers, and being sent from one school to the next. He seems to have just fallen through the gaps – which so often happens to kids who hate speaking up and drawing attention to themselves. Once again, I found myself thinking, “He deserves this chance.”
Having said that, Natasha, Trevor and the rest of these kids are no angels – a lot of them, as Dream School headmaster and former headmaster of Grey College in Bloemfontein, Johan Volsteedt says, have brought their situations (in part at least) upon themselves.
Every single one of these kids deserves this opportunity. But will they take it? Keep watching to see how they fare. - Kirstin Buick YOU’s Kirstin Buick went on the set of Dream School and got a bird’s eye view of the goings-on. Keep an eye on her weekly blog for exclusive behind-the-scenes info, and check out YOU, Huisgenoot and Drum every week for more on the kids and teachers. Catch MySchool Dream School every Sunday at 5 pm on M-Net, M-Net HD, Mzanzi Magic and M-Net Series Channel.