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What We're All About
The Imagine Scholar Mission Statement
Imagine Scholar provides unique, personalized education to promising and motivated youth in South Africa’s rural Nkomazi region. We strive to effect profound change on individual lives and empower the next generation of African leaders through creative, multidimensional development.
Imagine Scholar aspires not to help students merely get by, but to give them the tools to be the difference-makers of their generation and bring about lasting change in their communities.
What is the Structure?
Imagine Scholar’s primary program is the Imagine Academy, an intensive four-year afterschool mentorship program for high-performing secondary school students. We also provide study help and personal support outside of class in order to give the students every opportunity to succeed.
As of August 2012, there are 25 students in the program. Going forward, we will accept ten ninth-graders each year, building to a total enrollment of 40 scholars preparing for professional achievement and success in the wider world.
How are the Students Chosen?
The local schools nominate their best and brightest students, who then go through a rigorous interview process with our facilitators and current students. The students have a huge say in who gets in.
Furthermore, we aren’t always looking for the most academically gifted students. We are looking for students with a demonstrated desire to achieve.
Core Educational Principles
At Imagine Scholar, we focus on the following three core principles. Any classwork we do will tie into at least one of these three key pillars:
- English Language Proficiency: Enhancing the learners’ ability to read, write, and speak English with confidence
- Applied Critical Thinking: Digging deeper into a problem to find the solution
- Character Development: Creating the personal fortitude to tackle life’s biggest challenges
A Creative, Family Environment
The Imagine Academy provides a very different environment than the rote memorization prevalent in some local schools, challenging students to think analytically, imaginatively, and abstractly. Classes involve a variety of exercises that promote original thought, such as logic games, in-depth discussions, problem solving exercises, and free writing prompts.
In addition to the work that we do, our students tell us that Imagine Scholar provides a “family” of support and an environment where kids feel safe and free to learn.
Imagine Scholar’s Seven Ideals about Education
The following seven truisms form the philosophical underpinning of the Imagine Scholar program.
- Education is the most powerful path to empowerment and sustainable change.
- Lasting change in a community must come from within. Empowering local leaders is the most effective way to transform a community.
- An open mind among all parties is essential for meaningful growth. We believe in letting students take an active role in their education.
- Learning should never be boring. The best education takes advantage of children’s inherent passion to learn.
- All parties must bring their own passion. The organization’s commitment to excellence needs to fully meet and reciprocate the scholar’s personal determination. This exchange brings empowerment, not charity.
- Quality, not quantity, is central. An outstanding, individualized education to motivated students offers boundless opportunities.
- Every child who is willing to work hard deserves to have a space where he or she feels safe and supported.