How I became the shortest-serving headmaster ever

How I became the shortest-serving headmaster ever

At lunch time, Bensouda came to the staffroom and announced that she was still young.

Photo credit: John Nyaga | Nation Media Group

The rumour that was started by Alphayo that Bensouda is on terminal leave has been believed by everyone.

I decided to take full control of the school, so that TSC would have no doubt that I was the right man to be the next de jure head of this great school; a position I have deserved for about seven years now, during which time I have been the de facto head. As you may be aware, I thwarted an attempt by Kuya to disrupt my leadership by making him completely irrelevant the three times he came to school, his leg in heavy plaster, and walking with the support of heavy wooden crutches.

To run the school well, I consulted my brother Pius, who is a big manager in a big company in Nairobi, and who always advises me on people management matters.

“Start with a few things that will endear you to teachers, students and workers,” he said. “They will all like you, accept you and be ready to defend you.”

He went on: “Then call each teacher for a one-on-one session.”

I asked him what he meant by-one-on-one.

“It is a session between you and each teacher,” he said.

I told him that I always do that when I check the progress each teacher is making.

“They are usually very tough sessions and teachers do not like them, as I do not joke,” I said.

“That is the mistake you are making,” Pius said. “Make it an informal session, just talk about life. Ask how their families were doing, etc.”

Menial jobs

Following Pius’s script, I started by reducing the time for morning menial jobs. I also banned lunch time preps, saying the pupils needed to digest the food while teachers needed to take a nap. For morning and evening preps, I restricted it to Class 7 and 8 only. Teachers really liked this as did the students. I was slowly winning the support of everyone with the exception of Nzomo and Alex. Alex was, however, swaying between Kuya and me.

The first teacher I called for the one-on-one session was Alex. He came ready with books, and he even had a tablet to show how all his work was up-to-date on T-PAD. He was clearly ready for a fight.

“Relax, Alex,” I told him. “It’s been almost three years since you came to this school. Are you liking it here?”

He was taken aback, and gave very general, one-word answers like “fine”, “good”, “ok”,  and “no problem”.

It took him long to relax and share freely. When I asked him what support I could offer, he said that he was very keen on a transfer.

Second was Mrs Atika. She, too, was ready, but I only asked about her children, her cows, her farms and life in general. I asked her if she will visit her husband when schools close.

“One week is not enough to go to Nairobi. Can you allow me to report in week two next term so that I can be in Nairobi for two weeks?”

I approved.

News that my sessions were cordial spread fast, and that afternoon during lunch times, all teachers praised me.

“With you as the next head, the future of this school is bright,” said Mrs Atika, adding that the school needed a forward-looking head who had the interests of teachers and students at heart.

On Wednesday morning, when I arrived, there was a parent who had brought his son. I asked Alex to handle the parent, using my office. Alex was elated. I had a one-on-one session with Nzomo and decided to use the HM’s office.

“Where do you see yourself in the next five years?” I asked her.

“By 2026, I will be married to a rich man and we will be staying in town, not this backward village, with our own car.”

Nzomo was relaxed and opened up on so many things.

Out of nowhere, the door to the HM’s office opened. It was Bensouda.

“What are you two doing in my office?” she asked.

Nzomo spoke first.

“I was invited by the HM here for a review session,” she said.

“Which HM?” Bensouda asked.

“Dre. He informed us that you retired and he is the new HM?”

“Since when, Dre? You want to retire me before my time comes? I can’t believe it!”

She chased us from her office.

At lunch time, she came to the staff-room and announced that she was still young.

“If anyone thinks that I will retire and leave this school, I am sorry. You will leave me in this school. I am going nowhere,” she declared.

She has been coming to school every day since then, and making all the key decisions.