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THE MAGIC OF MAGALIES SPECIAL SCHOOL

Updated: Jul 10, 2023


Three weeks ago, we hopped into a car and drove not even 15 minutes around the corner.


The feeling I get before teaching a new school is always the same - equal parts excitement, passion, and nerves.


You never quite know what to expect, but you know in a few weeks you'll be walking back to that same car forever changed.


When we arrived at Magalies Special School, we walked into a class of some 30 children with others flocking around the door wanting to come inside.

We were incredibly surprised since we were told to expect smaller classes.


Unbeknownst to us, there were so many students that wanted to join that their teacher had to set up an entire application process - including academic achievements and motivations on why they wanted to be - there just to make sure they could all fit into one classroom.

Notes made by one student during the snakes and spiders lesson


I felt so humbled.


Here sits a room of children so wanting to be there that every single one of them had applied just for a spot in that classroom.


It's always a blessing to share your passion with others, but to share that passion with those who feel the same way about that passion as you do has a special way of igniting the soul.


That's what Magalies Special School did for me.


From the very first day, there were barely enough of us to answer all of their questions.


Their teacher told us a lot of what we were teaching them they had learned before, but what was so incredible was watching them learn with us.


She said that she had never seen any of them show the excitement and interest they showed when they learned about these same things with us.


Knowing this made every minute mean so much more - knowing we were impacting them the same way they were impacting us.


Nothing could prepare us, however, for what we experienced during the last lesson we taught them.


Of all the things we cover in our lessons, our final one on Employment in Conservation is not often the show-stopper.


The sea of confused faces I was met with when I started the lesson by asking them what they would like to do one day thus didn't surprise me at all.


Not thinking much of it, I proceeded with the lesson and began to speak more about the different options you had when working in the field of conservation.

That's when the surprise came, in true surprise fashion.


One by one, I watched their faces begin to light up as one career after another flashed onto the projector.


Tracker, game ranger, photographer, chef, the list went on and on.


I had been in the room multiple times for this particular lesson, but this was not a response I'd ever witnessed.


By the end of the lesson, I was awestruck.


One student, in particular, came to ask me if I had any direct connections for him to look for a job in an anti-poaching unit.


He wanted to be a hero.


What their teacher said to us when we ended that lesson, however, is something that will stay with me forever.


She said that we were teaching students in their last year at the school, and that looking for a job they could find passion in seemed fruitless without a matric certificate.


Flash back to the start of the lesson when I asked if any students knew what they wanted to do one day - their looks of confusion didn't come from a lack of excitement, but rather true, genuine confusion.


For most, it had never seemed worth thinking about.


Until that day.


I took a minute to think about the lesson - about the change in their faces, the endless questions, the phone cameras flashing the second the slides depicting how to become a chef or a field guide or an anti-poaching soldier came up.

The light that entered the room when the prospect of a brighter future came into play.


We had made a difference here, and when we walked out of that hall, we did so forever changed.

One student's answer to the post-lessons survey


If you would like to learn more about how you can make a difference for these children please feel free to email info@lessonsinconservation.com or donate by clicking here








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