By Mashariki Correspondent
When he is not preaching to students at the St Joseph High School-Michaka in Naari, Buuri, Father Mark Gitobu is in class.
Father Gitobu says his calling is spreading the gospel and as a professional teacher, he loves taking the students through various lessons at the school located meters from the Michaka market.
Since he took over as principal in January 2016, the school has seen improvement in academic performan- ce, even sending some to universities and colleges.
The school, sponsored by the Diocese of Meru, has 190 students, an increase from 71 when Gitobu took over as principal.
He attributes the increase to the strategy they put in place to nurture the students.
“One of the pillars geared towards seeking to have them gain knowledge and impact spiritual nourishment. We have mass every morning from 7.20am to 8.am,” said Gitobu.
The students are in class at 8.15am, ready to start the day’s lessons.
Father Gitobu says some 40 students are day scholars. All the girls, less than half of the student population, are day scholars.
Chalice, a Canadian organization pays school fees to the majority of the day scholars, many of whom they assisted from the primary school level.
“The Chalice organization has really helped this school and the local community. They helped us put up some infrastructure, including the kitchen, library and the computer laboratory,” said Gitobu.
“We are the only school in this area which has computers. Some students who have cleared Form Four from other schools in the area also have computer classes, at subsidized rates,” Gitobu told The Mashariki News.
The students come from Meru, Marsabit, Isiolo, Samburu, Nairobi, Laikipia, Embu and other areas.
“Our work with the students has been to ensure the cultivation of values. We have set this as a home for the students, teachers and other staff. Our relationship with the local community is good,” he said.
The 12 teachers who are paid by the Diocese of Meru reside outside the school but in close quarters.
The school provides them with free meals since most come from other counties. The school gets some food including milk, from its farm.
“We grow cabbages, kale, onions, maize, and others from our farm. We also have cows which provide us with enough milk. We have also leased a farm to grow some cereals,” he said.
The farm has pigs, rabbits, and goats. “Our goal is to increase the farm animals so that we can make some income to funds various operations,” he said.
The school is located in an area which experiences chilly weather Gitobu bought solar panels to ensure the students have a warm bath in the morning and evening.
“The warm water is used to bathe only. The students are not expected to use it to wash clothes or dishes!” he chuckled.
The institution has invested in six water tanks which ensure they have enough of the commodity all the time.
“We have 22 students who are prefects to help us in enforcing discipline all the time.
Apart from the improvement of academic performance, the school has topped in different ball games in the Kiirua-Naari Zone, in addition to winning trophies for religious activities by students.
It received an award at the recently held Education-cum prize giving day sponsored by the Diocese of Meru.
“Some of our students won prizes for excelling in various areas,” he said.
“We are anticipating over 200 students next year. The community in the area recognizes the holistic approach we take in educating and nurturing the students. Our motto is ‘Disciplined we excel’ and I can say our approach has ensured we have a much-disciplined group of students.
Gitobu says his goal is to ensure the school improves in academic and co-curricular performance.