Watershed College

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Q & A with Old Owl Family - The Campbell's from the United Kingdom

The all-round education ensures that every student benefits as much as possible in the development of their skills.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Q & A with Old Owl Family - The Campbell's from the United Kingdom
Carole and Jim Campbell were teachers at Watershed College from August 1993 to April 1998. Their children both attended Digglefold School and Kirsty moved up to Watershed in 1996.

1. What was the first thing that impressed you about Watershed, what stuck out for you? (The environment, the students, the community).
The space for our kids to roam; the farm, the sports facilities – what family with young children wouldn’t want to live on a campus with a pool, squash courts, basketball courts, rugby, hockey and cricket pitches on our doorstep?

Students standing up to show respect to adults (although it could get a bit wearing if I forgot something and had to go back to the house).
The first thing I remember about our arrival was it was cold and rainy (not what we had told the kids to expect!) - and the house hadn’t been lived in for a while so was cold; within minutes of our arrival Jane had lit a fire and a steady procession of staff came bearing gifts- tea, milk, a plant, blankets! That welcome made all the difference. The Davidsons invited us to dinner and the next morning the sun was shining (as it should); the school bakkie took us into Marondera...... we had come to the right place.
So first impressions - lovely surroundings, welcoming people and a school where we felt we could make a difference.

2. What subjects did you teach?
I taught Science and Biology to A level. Jim taught Mathematics.

3. Please tell us what your roles and responsibilities were?
We were in charge of Junior Hostel for 3 years.
I was Head of Science shared with Mike Quain for the 1st term of 1994, then sole responsibility.
Jim coached rugby and cricket to begin with then concentrated on coaching tennis; I coached U14 & U15 swimming.
All the staff were asked to run a club:  Jim did Chess, I did a Games Club then a Video Club showing BBC documentaries when our stuff arrived from the UK.
When the school got computers, I ran the computer suite in the afternoons for students to do project work and learn word processing.
So we had a full teaching load, plus Junior Hostel, plus clubs, plus sport at least 2 afternoons a week and weekends.  We worked from 6am till 10pm and weekends, took students on field courses and leadership courses and loved every minute of it.

4. What was the experience like for your children having to live and learn at Watershed? (How was the education system and how would you say that foundation benefitted them later on in life)
The education system was much the same except the school year starts in September in UK so both kids repeated a term of grade 2 and 5 and lost almost 2 terms when we returned to UK.  Both children did well though - a testament to the work ethos they learned in Zimbabwe.

The curriculum and exam system was much the same as UK as Zimbabwe was doing Cambridge.  What perhaps was missing was the breadth of information from magazines, videos and CD ROMs. My Mum sent BBC schools programmes and BBC documentaries on video. The Science for Schools programmes became part of our teaching across the whole department.  The documentaries were shown across the hostels for general knowledge.

Being staff children had its pluses and minuses but the opportunities from living at Watershed were immense. They were included in many Watershed activities both as students and staff children.  We could only take students on courses in the holidays if our children came with us. It wasn’t easy to fit in their needs with the demands of Watershed though, so we only ran the hostel for the first 3 years.

5. Fondest memory at Watershed?
Too many to pick out just one

  • Gosho, Masangu, Rifa & Sanganayi Creek stand out as extra special times with students watching them learn to work as a team and get on with everybody;
  • Travelling on a bus across Zimbabwe for Interschool sport;
  • Lunches in the pub with visiting teams;
  • Settling new boarders into Junior Hostel;
  • Staff lunches, leaving dos, Christmas  picnics at the pool – Watershed without students was wonderful but we were always pleased to see them back;
  • Stress free teaching with students who respect adults and want to learn.... that is why we returned to teach in African schools again and again and still would if we could.  

6. From your point of view, what would you not want to see changed about Watershed?
The school was set up by local farmers to provide a non-selective co-ed school where bullying was not allowed, where all ages and abilities were respected and juniors were looked after by seniors, as if they were family. Watershed didn’t have the pretensions of grandeur that some schools had but the children were happy and happy children learn better....

7. Your message to Watershed Staff, parents and students.
Watershed had a lot to offer 20+ years ago and looking at the website now, the school has expanded tremendously especially their music and cultural activities.  We think back very fondly of Watershed and welcome news of people who might remember us.  I haven’t put names to people as the truth is I don’t remember ALL the names.  If anybody wants to add names, please feel free!

Watershed was the best job I ever had. Some have been as good in other ways but this was the only one where we were so involved in everything.  It was exhausting but in a very good way. 

We have been back in UK for 20+ years now and have been happily retired down in rural Devon since 2007. We are working our way down my bucket list of places I haven’t seen because we were teaching in Africa - started with Egypt and still going...

We still need our bush fix though and go to South Africa as often as we can to get our bush fix - where we would be now if we could!

We hope you enjoy the photos. (http://www.watershed.ac.zw/media/video-gallery/watershed-1993-1998-campbell-family) 20+ years is long enough for us all to look back fondly on that young person we once were.

Yours Carole & Jim Campbell