In Diepsloot, a township outside Johannesburg, South Africa, the LEAP Science and Maths School is a bright spot in an underserved community. The school, one of six run by the nonprofit Langa Education Assistance Program (LEAP) organization, provides a top-class education for economically disadvantaged students from grades 8 to 12, creating the opportunity for transformative learning and a fulfilling future.
VMware Foundation recently partnered with the nonprofit, sending a team of nine employees on a Good Gig to inspire the teachers and students with the possibilities of technology in the classroom.
An Innovative Approach
Good Gigs is a leadership development program based around immersive service in a small, cross-functional team. The projects, or “treks,” build on the ongoing work of an NGO to accelerate the impact and create sustainable change. Participating “trekkers” learn through this service experience to cultivate a global mindset, expand their experience of diversity, and develop the leadership muscle of reflection.
Inspiring Teachers to Integrate Technology Into the Classroom
VMware donated equipment, including laptops and D-Link Network Attached Storage (NAS), to the school’s first mobile computing lab, and the Good Gigs team worked with teachers and students to help them get the most out of it.
The team led hands-on exercises for 31 LEAP teachers to familiarize them with different learning software tools and interactive methods of teaching. At the end of the week-long workshop, the teachers developed a project-based learning system using several technology tools delivered through the Moodle learning management system.
To build the infrastructure capabilities, two members of the Good Gigs team spent a week with the school’s IT manager, helping him add storage to the existing server for the new learning software. The team provided training on LINUX and helped the IT manager develop a roadmap for future improvements to address critical needs.
Since the trek in July, teachers have used the donated laptops every day to enhance learning, and VMware trekkers continue to work with the IT manager to expand servers and learning software to other LEAP schools.
Lasting Impact on Participants
Part of the Good Gigs ethos is to learn through tackling real-life challenges. Esther Tamang, a supervisor in Business Transformation and Automation – Adoption, Change Management, and Training (BTA-ACT), found that skills she wasn’t even aware she possessed surfaced while working in the school. “Leadership is not just when you have the right situation, the right equipment, the right people in place,” she says. “Leadership is about being a leader under any conditions.”
Hear more from Esther and her fellow trekkers in this video.
The Good Gigs experience is also meant to challenge participants on a more personal level through shared reflection on the experience. Through the unique curriculum, the participants discuss and internalize what they’d learned in serving the community and how they will bring those insights back, both personally and professionally. “There’s a lot I can take from this and apply to my leadership style,” says Gloria Falcinelli, VP, IT Services. “I think the biggest thing is really being a thoughtful leader.”
A Culture of Service
Giving more than we take is an important part of who we are. “At VMware, contributing to the world beyond our offices is part of our diverse and inclusive culture and underscores our commitment to providing unique opportunities for our people to develop and grow through service,” says Betsy Sutter, corporate vice president and chief people officer. “These types of experiences are foundational to what makes VMware an exceptional place to work.”
To learn more about The Good Gigs program, which will expand through 2016, follow the VMware Careers Facebook page over the coming weeks for a special series on the leadership insights from each trekker.
Trekkers Reflect on Learning Through Service
In this slideshow, VMware employees from the Good Gigs Trek to Johannesburg, South Africa, reflect on what the trek taught each of them about leadership.