“What makes a good board member?… interesting choice of question,” ponders Ms Bernadette, Chairperson for the Secondary School Board at Smith Campus.
Sitting on her porch, relaxed and poised, Ms Bernadette shares her experience.
“I’m a retired public officer. I worked as an education administrator in the government for 41 years and I believe with this background and experience, I have been privileged to chair the board at Smith Campus since 2017,” she says with a smile.
The School of St Jude complies with statutory requirement by operating under three boards; Primary School Committee for the registered primary school and Secondary School Board for each of the registered secondary schools at St Jude’s. These bodies are made up of staff, parents and local community representatives and professionals from different background.
“I remember I was one of the three people who cut the cake when Gemma first opened the school gates back in 2002. It was a really special day for me and especially for Gemma,” she chuckles.
“I was the District Education Officer then so oversaw many schools in my district and was excited to see a new school opening for our community,” she adds.
With a background in education, Ms Bernadette has been a great asset to the school, leading the board with passion, firm principles and making sure the school adheres to Tanzania education policy.
“My role as the St Jude’s Secondary Board Chairperson is to make sure that the meetings are held on time. We are supposed to have four meetings a year… two board meetings and two committee meetings,” Ms Bernadette explains.
“Some of the key points of discussion when we meet include secondary school systems,” Ms Bernadette explains,
“We make sure that systems are followed and run properly as we work towards our mission of giving bright, poor Tanzanian students a free, quality education so they can break the cycle of poverty in their communities,” she adds.
The Secondary School Board, of which Ms Bernadette is Chair, ensure that the school’s mission and policies are followed, and make recommendations in relation to Tanzanian Education Policy and ensure the enforcement of the Child Protection Policy to the Tanzania based board of non-governmental organisation (NGO) Directors overseeing the whole project. They also support the management and ensure that strategic goals are being achieved within specific timeframes.
The NGO Board then liaises with our international charity boards both in Australia (SOSJ Ltd Australia) and America (AFOSJ).
“What makes a good chairperson is attending board and other meetings on time and always thinking of the benefit you bring to the school.
“Any good leader must have a vision. You need to see where that vision is heading and walk towards that goal. And that’s what keeps me going to continue serving the board,” she adds.
Agreeing with Ms Bernadette is Professor Lucky, who serves as a board member for the Secondary School Board at Smith Campus. He believes any good leader must have a vision and must be able to empower the people working with them.
Being a finance and accounting expert, Professor Lucky advises and shares his financial knowledge with the school's management and board to ensure full financial compliance.
“My role as a board member is to advise the board on various issues, including financial matters, governance and leadership of the school,” says Professor Lucky.
Professor Lucky, who is also an author of various books about finance and accounting, believes a combination of skills is key in maintaining a good board.
“When you meet at board level, you’re multiple skills and experience give you the know-how to advice in different areas,” he advises.
Both Professor Lucky and Ms Bernadette have been active members of the Secondary School Board at Smith Campus for years and their stewardship together with other members of their board has set the direction in sustaining and achieving St Jude’s mission.