Mrs Gbemisola Olowookere, founder of Chalcedony School, Lekki, Lagos is an accomplished educationist with a passion for human capital development. This passion has seen her award scholarships to over 100 of her students because as she puts it, “Seeing my students become accomplished professionals is one of the things that keeps me going strong.” Hear more from her
I am happily married to Dr Emmanuel Olowookere, a medical practitioner and a man of God. We’ve been married for 25 years, and God has blessed us with two lovely children. My husband is also playing a major role on the board of Chalcedony School especially in advisory capacity.
I grew up in Ilesa, Osun State; growing up was actually very interesting and full of fun. I am the seventh child of my parents. We were 12 children from a harmonious polygamous family. I attended CAC Grammar School, Efon-Alaye, Ekiti state, with three other siblings and the closeness we shared from home was extended to our boarding school days. After I left secondary school. I proceeded to study English Education at the Adeyemi College of Education, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State. Aside from this, I have also acquired many other professional certifications both locally and internationally, one of which is owners manager programme (OMP) from Lagos Business School
Early Career Days
I started my teaching career at Lady Bird Nursery and Primary School, Gbagada Estate, Lagos, it wasn’t too challenging because the love for the job was my propellant. As a young woman I came into Lagos with a strong focus to grow and run the best school in Nigeria. I joined Corona School. I discovered that it was one of the best schools in Lagos at that time. I loved the environment and I was also highly motivated by my head of school, Mrs. Laide Sasegbon, I’m sure this was why I spent 10 years there before I moved ahead to Lekki British Junior School, Lagos.
Then the ideal time to establish Attwool Sunflower Schools came. Though it was a partnership, I worked diligently during those years because I saw the school as the accomplishment of a personal dream. We established a few other branches and it wasn’t a problem for me shuttling from one school to the other so as to make sure each branch attained the expected standard.
I was leading the team as Head of Schools for seven and a half years. My leaving Attwool Group of Schools wasn’t planned but when I was made to realise that the importance accorded my job wasn’t reciprocal. I made the painful decision to move on. Soon afterwards Chalcedony School was born. Those who started with us at the school will attest to the fact that we didn’t start here at the permanent site but right on the main road in a rented space. Soon enough the school boomed and many parents sent in their children and wards. Just after three years those who owned the building requested the use of their property and this was what propelled us to get our permanent site. During all the challenges I faced not once did it occur to me to try any other profession and this has been because of my love for children. This love made teaching supersede any choice of profession over the years.
Chalcedony School was established on the 12th September, 2011. Our mission really is to raise the standard of education in Nigeria. I had always wanted to be at the forefront of the effort to raise the standard of education in this country because as a nation, you can’t go far if you are not building a solid human capital by having strong academic institutions.
To the glory of God, I can tell you that my vision to change the face of education in Nigeria has been accomplished. Today Chalcedony School is one of the leading providers of quality education. I can boldly say that the students in Chalcedony School can compete with international standards. Especially now that we have introduced the advanced level classes.
There is no school in this country today that will tell you that they are not facing challenges especially because of the austere times the country is facing right now. Most schools complain of the withdrawal of students by parents and the main reason is due to their inability to pay fees and unfortunately moving the children to schools with lower school fees and of course lower standards.
This financial challenge is the major hiccup we face in the daily running of the school. Most of the parents of the students still in the school delay in the payment of school fees.
In Nigeria, school business just like any other business are being run in a hostile environment where the proprietors have to do everything from fixing of roads, drilling borehole for water and generating electricity with little or no support from the government.
Chalcedony School had a good number of excellent results and has graduated over 100 students over the years; some have graduated from the university. Some are doing their second degrees, and some are still undergraduates, we also have a good number of them on scholarships based on merit from their various universities, all over the world representing the school well and flying the Chalcedony School flag high.
Scholarship For Students
I have a strong belief that getting good education is the basic foundation needed to excel in life. That why we have over 100 students on scholarship. Yes, out of over 400 students, we have in school, 100 are on scholarship given them by the school. The scholarships are of different kinds, some are on full scholarship, some are on part scholarship and some are on compassionate scholarship, those who do not have the financial well withal for a basic education.
Chalcedony school needs the assistance of the parents through prompt payment of school fees, and regular referral of the school to other parents. We also need the government to provide a more enabling environment for schools in general to not just thrive but to excel. We would also appreciate individual philanthropists and NGOs that can partner with us to sponsor the less privileged children, that could also make us increase the number of the beneficiaries.
When I look back at all I have been through I have no regrets whatsoever, in fact I am always grateful that God gave me the wisdom to make the decisions I made when I made them. It’s not as if everything is perfect but it is obvious that God has been the hand directing and upholding Chalcedony School and for this I am very grateful.
Advice To Youths
Education should be their utmost priority, they should be focused and diligent, as it is said that, “whatsoever your hand finds doing, do it with all your heart.” They should always strive to become better with everything they lay their hands upon. When they find a vocation they love they should never despise humble beginnings.
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