“What do you see here?” asks Ms Edina, nodding towards her desk, as the class settles into their seats.
“A pineapple,” says one of the students.
Indeed, standing proudly at the centre of Ms Edina’s desk is an enormous pineapple, the size of a leopard’s head. The pineapple is strategically placed, so it can be seen from any point in the room.
“So, why did I start painting and drawing?” Ms Edina, an art teacher, ponders to the class. “Well, let me tell you a story.”
She starts to explain that when she was five years old she used to play a game called ‘Baba mdogo’ which means uncle in Swahili. Participants sit in a circle and sing a song, afterwards one person in the circle will name an object, anything they like, and the entire circle is given one minute to draw it. Whenever it was Ms Edina’s turn she would only ever name one thing – a pineapple.
Once Ms Edina began drawing, she couldn’t stop. Sometimes, she would even draw pineapples on the walls inside her family home, landing her in trouble with her parents.
“Now, today, as my students, I want you to draw a pineapple too!” says Ms Edina.Only, on this occasion, students will not be drawing on walls, instead being given blank sheets of paper
“I don’t want you to draw the pineapple exactly as it is,” Ms Edina adds. “I want you to improvise, I want you to use any colour you like, and I want you to use detail.”
“You have one hour!” The students begin rummaging around the classroom; picking up pencils, paintbrushes and anything else they can find. She then lists the principles of art as the students get to work.
The art room offers serenity for the students, tucked away in a corner of the secondary campus, at the top of several flights of stairs. There is no conventional door to enter the art room, instead you brush through beaded curtains, a nod to the idea that the art room is always open. Inside, there are beautiful panoramic views of Mount Meru on one side, and rolling foothills on the other.
“So, what did you all draw when you were little?” asks Ms Edina to the class, as she works on her own pineapple.
“Cars!” “Dogs!” “Flowers!” “Potatoes!” students cry out.
The last response causes a stir amongst the students, and the class begin to exchange stories from their childhood. At 27 years of age, Ms Edina is one of the youngest teachers at St Jude’s and enjoys an easy rapport with her students.
Two Form 6 students, Isaac and Lillian, involve themselves in Ms Edina’s art classes outside of their normal timetable, as art is not an A Level subject, but they still like to join in. “I’m always painting in my spare time,” says Isaac. “Madam Edina always supports us and she always challenges us to do more.”Lillian, who likes to draw whenever she is feeling stressed, agrees with Isaac. “Ms Edina never discourages us,” says Lillian. “She will always say, ‘you can do it!’”
During the school shutdown period due to the spread of COVID-19, Ms Edina continued to support her students in their art studies.
“When schools shutdown, I gave each of my students assignments and references for them to practise at home. Even though the schools were closed for over three months, the art packs that the students received proved to be helpful. I’ve seen a massive improvement in my student’s with some coming back with fresh ideas.”
However, with the introduction of an adjusted academic calendar, Ms Edina added, “currently it is tough for the students to make time to practise their art. But I do advise them to spare at least 30 minutes a day to brush up their craft.”
Thanks to generous supporters, St Jude’s is able to offer a rich curriculum with plenty of resources and teachers, like Ms Edina, to inspire our students. You can help by donating today!