Today I had the honor and privilege of attending the inauguration of the first female principal of Lycee Bilingual High School in Buea.  Having never attended a ceremony like this one before I was unsure what to expect. Two things struck me right off:  1.  The amount of pomp and circumstance; and 2. The necessity for the change over.

I honestly don’t know what events are involved when a new principal is installed in a US school.  I would imagine on the first day of school there would be an assembly where the new principal would introduce herself to the students, talk about her philosophy of leadership, and provide benchmarks she expected the students to meet.  I assume this assembly is the product of a number of meetings between the incoming principal and the outgoing as well as the teachers and school staff.  I don’t imagine there is an official “handing over” for the school.  It struck me as the outgoing teacher was making his speech why this ceremony might be necessary here in Buea.  The first three principals of Lycee school were French - I assume a product of colonial rule.  When the first principal of Cameroonian decent took the helm of Lycee I imagine it was more than a historic event for the school. I imagine it was a symbolic event where the the children, the future, of Cameroon was released to the leadership of the people here and taken away from the French rulers.  Perhaps the tradition carried on and today as a new principal takes control it is with the understanding that education is a keystone to the development and future prosperity of this country - particularly here in an Anglophone region. 

Principals are assigned their schools by the Ministry of Education.  The outgoing principal of Lycee had only been at his post for six years before his transfer.  It was obvious by his speech that he had a good rapport with his teachers and he was well respected in the school.  It also seemed obvious that he was not excited about his move.  He would now be commuting to the bilingual school in Limbe - about a thirty minute drive.  When I was growing up I had the same principal from 6th until 12th grade - and, as far as I know, this principal is still there almost fifteen years later.  It seemed to me that in order to make real positive change a leader would need time to develop their school.  Again, I’m speaking from a place of ignorance.  I just found it interesting that these two principals were simply switching schools after such a short amount of time.

A little about the new principal.  I am so impressed.  When she stood to speak she had few words to share, but they were strong words.  She was excited to be here.  She was ready to work.  She looked forward to collaborating with the vice principals, teachers, and staff to make the school great.  Mr. David, despite my protests that she was busy speaking with people who were more important than me, insisted I meet her.  She listened as Mr. David tried to explain YAN’s current work and prospects for the future.  When he had finished she turned to me and asked me to meet with her on Monday.  I was blown away - this is a woman who likes to get things done.  I told her I would be there anytime she would have me and I was honored that she was interest in our program.  I told her I had a number of ideas to share and that I was anxious to hear her insights.  YAN’s relationship with this school is growing day by day and it is my hope that this founding school will serve as a model for schools as far as Younde one day.