You are currently viewing Our Greatest Success Story is Turning Around the Lives of Our Students – John Adegbenro, Principal, Premiere Academy
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Mr. John Olugbenro is the Principal of the wave-making Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja. A core educationist, he has been in the industry for over 35 years during which he assumed various leadership positions in different schools in Nigeria and overseas. He spoke with The Podium on the various giant strides of the school, issues in Nigeria’s education sector, and the way forward.

Could you let us into your background?

I was posted to the then Gongola State (Now Adamawa and Taraba States) for my NYSC. I served as a Geography teacher because that is what I studied at the University of Benin. My students enjoyed me and I was retained in Gongola, basically because of the impact God created in the lives of the students through me. My parents told me to turn it down and resume work in Oyo State, post-NYSC. I was in Oyo state for several years working as a teacher, and I rose to become HOD Social Sciences in 1991. I was HOD Social Sciences leading those who were older than me because I was a young graduate teacher.


Later, I moved from Oyo State to Osun State where I became the Secretary of the All Nigerian Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS).  That was made possible because my Principal who was the ANCOPSS President for Osun State admired my reporting style as the secretary during staff meetings. So, I was following him to the meeting, I was meeting my bosses even though I was a teacher. My principal never told them that I was his teacher. So, I understood from those early years what they discussed at the managerial level in education, and I learned a lot.

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From there, I was recruited as an expatriate teacher in the Island of Seychelles where I worked for seven years with the Ministry of Education. I worked for two years teaching Social Sciences subjects. I was promoted rapidly because I facilitated a programme and I was made to become a Professional Development Facilitator, whereby I facilitated training for other teachers, starting with my school. When I did that at my school, my head teacher went to report to the ministry that he has gotten a Nigerian teacher who did wonderfully well in PDF. The ministry invited me to do a demo and made me a Zonal Coordinator over five secondary schools to be training them. So, I was moved from the classroom to the ministry to be conducting training for teachers and they were the ones giving the topics. They facilitated my work a lot; they gave me a laptop, and that improved my skills.  

While I was in the country, I learned about the International General Certificate Secondary Education (IGCSE) Curriculum which is different from what Nigerians teach, the National Curriculum (WAEC and NECO). But, this new one is purely a British Curriculum. We were trained and I excelled because, in the classes I taught, my children did well in their examinations. From the school, I was deployed to the Ministry. I served in the country for 6-7 years. What influenced my return home was a Nigerian Proprietor who wanted to introduce the British Curriculum to his school. He came to Seychelles to recruit expatriates. The ministry knew I am a Nigerian, they told me about the recruitment and they arranged for me to meet the man.  

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They brought him to me. I spoke to him in the Yoruba language, and he responded with shock. He said, what are you doing here? I said, I work here and we began to speak in our dialect. The foreigners left because they didn’t understand what we were saying. So, the man told me his mission. I said, what? Is that why you came? I said when I come back home, I will come and help you. He said, can you come today? I said No, that is very impossible, I run on a contract and my contract is every 2 years renewable. So, when I came home, we met and had a fruitful discussion about the IGCSE. I decided to return to Nigeria by choice. I told the man I was back. He said my employment letter was waiting for me. That was how I commenced my journey into school and education management. I trained the staff on IGCSE.

For how long have you been in Premiere Academy?


I joined Premiere Academy in 2012 from Lagos. I was here for five years as the Director of Curriculum Studies. I went to another school briefly and returned here to occupy my current position as the Principal.  

What are your success stories in Premiere Academy?


Premiere Academy is a household name in the education sector, and we have recorded numerous success stories. Our greatest success is turning the lives of the children around, in addition to their academic certificates. Apart from certificates, medals, and awards, reforming and turning the lives of children around is the greatest testimony we have. Every child requires attention, every child is unique, and every child is very special. So, how you identify the needs of each child, turning them around is a great success story for the school.

A child can come in as an early starter, scoring 100% in all the subjects in the first term. In the second term, he repeats the same feat. Then, by the time the child gets to year 9 or JSS3, he starts to drop. You say, what is happening? He was an excellent student in junior school, what is happening? Maybe distractions? maybe loss of focus? Maybe the child is even a false early starter? Whatever the cause of the decline, you attend to that child and you ensure that the momentum is not lost, and the child manages to graduate, still on the same platform as an excellent student; that’s a lot of work.

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Some children are late starters, and the parents look up to the school for help. Such children cannot be a quick fix if you want to do a thorough job. You have to be painstaking, study him, understand him, study her; what are their challenges? What are the things that caused this attitude or this behaviour in them? By the time you can work with them, and give them attention, focus, and confidence, they will come out of their shells and a child who was scoring 1 over 10, will begin to score 2 over 10, 3 over 10, if you can sustain that tempo, then by the time you spend one and half years with the child, the child will come out and become a success story.

That’s one of the things Premiere has been able to achieve. We have turned around students that people thought were average into excellent students. They don’t just stay there, we ensure that they sustain the tempo at the university. A good number of our students left the university with First Class in Nigeria and overseas. Many universities are running after Premiere Academy products because of the top quality they see in the students.

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Secondly, we give our students maximum positive exposure. The more exposure you get, the better informed you are and you have a greater competitive edge to perform. The world is changing every day, the world is evolving every minute, and the things you know yesterday become obsolete today. So, the only way to remain competent and relevant is to keep on changing. We keep on changing because we give them the required exposure; we send our students to South Africa for competitions annually, and they go to the US for competitions annually, not just for excursions or visits but for world-acclaimed competitions. Our children have visited the Space Centre in America which non-citizens cannot even visit because they went to a competition.

To be Continued


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