BY VICTOR OCHIENG’
On Thursday, March 3, 2022, Kelvin Mungai and I, visited Othaya Girls to do this and that. This top-tier extra-county school sits in Nyeri County. It is steered by Mrs. Jane Waceke, the pleasant principal who bagged the 2019 Principal of the Year Award (POYA). Again, through meritocracy and serendipity, she scooped the African Union Teacher of the Year Award, which was no mean feat. But an achievement worth to inspire Son of the Lake to weld words and knit a story neatly. For Benjamin Franklin advised, “Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.”
This award-winning woman gave us a convivial invitation. We went there to charge candidates to finish the last lap of the race with great grace. After that, we met the teachers, and explored seven forms of teachers’ authority: legitimate, expert, reward, charismatic, moral, spiritual and coercive.
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While in the area like bacteria, we felt at ease. Right on our gait from the gate, we inhaled air of greatness. An aura of glory wafted through our nice noses. I, Ochieng, the passionate lover of fish and English, had never met this winsome woman, whom as a penman, I have decided to describe as Wisecrack Waceke. For while there, she created comely comic reliefs with the witty jokes and clever comments she made as we confabbed and conferred with each other. We took note of colourful qualities she evinces, which forms the thesis of this article.
Permit me a little latitude. I may not know thrilling things that make the Principal of the Year. On that ambit, I must admit: I am obviously oblivious. It is also difficult to conclude on the trait and conduct of a character after a first encounter. Albeit, there are features in a person that look like a boil – they cannot be hidden. Again, the sage said: First impressions, are last impressions.
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Therefore, without a tad or tinge of flattery, I have chosen to put pen on paper and write right about this fair and flawless Daughter of Mumbi, whom my divine-driven gift of clairvoyance makes me see the infinite spectrum of opportunities set ahead of her. For she is a legendary leader who is hands-on, humble and hilarious.
- Hands-on leader
That Thursday, when we arrived at Othaya Girls around sunrise, Forms One to Three were breaking for April Holiday. The school was a beehive. Bright belles looking elegant and resplendent in blue, were racing up and down. Teachers, led by the Chief Principal were busy bees guiding good girls to board vehicles that slithered into the compound like snakes. Wisecrack Waceke is a meticulous leader who has a ravenous desire is to get involved in every detail. As a magnanimous mother, she feels it is important to know how children study, eat, travel and sleep. She argues that she is employed by the TSC to work and not to abscond and abdicate duty. Indeed, throughout our stay in that glorious girls’ school, we met a principal who has a sweet spirit and purely has a penchant for her profession.
Purpose and passion fuels and fans her. For instance, during dreary days of school stasis caused by Covid-19, she came up with charitable initiatives to cushion girls from devastating impacts of the pandemic. She sporadically drove to far-flung counties like Samburu to meet, greet and assist girls. It is how she rescued most of them from the jaws of atavistic twists of culture like Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriages.
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- Humble leader
Again, we met a down-to-earth administrator, who has strived to pay the price for glory and greatness, but looks simple and humble like a dimple. She is a perfect epitome of a person who can dine with kings, and eat with commoners alike. Her mien and mannerisms, pays homage to the wise words of Mahatma Gandhi: “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
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Just to be blunt about it. We have leaders who swell with pride, and use their positions of puissance and influence to unleash terror on subjects. Aptly put, there are principals who mutate to tin gods, then intimidate students and staff. Therefore, Ryan Holiday got it right: Ego is the enemy.
In retrospect, Mrs. Jane Waceke is a different kettle of fish. She is acutely aware, hubris – excess self-confidence and pride – are the necessary sins that sank the Titanic Ship in 1912. Captains were haughty to an extent that when asked whether the ship could sink, they claimed that even God could not sink it. But to their utter surprise, an iceberg toppled the water-borne juggernaut. Why? Because God hates pride and arrogance. In James 4:6 we read that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. In James 4:10 we are admonished to humble ourselves before the Lord, and He shall surely lift us up. Therefore, it is clear like crystal: those who are not humble, stumble. Those who don’t practise humility, eventually get humiliated.
- Hilarious leader
In the whole scheme of things, Mrs. Jane Waceke is self-effacing and mirrors the brilliant ideas of Robin Sharma presented in the book titled the Leader Who Had No Title. It is in that treasure trove where we meet a legendary leader called Tommy Flinn, whose business card simply described him as a human being. So, Robin Sharma goes ahead to posit that great leaders are HUMAN, which means they are ready to help, understand, mingle, amuse and nurture people.
Wisecrack Waceke is able to amaze and amuse. Being around her is full of fun. Unlike other leaders whose constant solemn moods make their subjects to appear tensed. There are leaders who think that they hit it only when they wear long lugubrious faces akin to donkeys. Yet, when people are enjoying themselves at work, their stress levels nose-dive.
The writer builds capacity of teachers, facilitates team building sessions for staff, and speaks in Principals’ conferences.
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