TAKE LESSONS FROM VISIONARY SCHOOL LEADERS AND MANAGERS OF THE PAST
TODAY teachers can consult research articles on leadership and management in schools. There was not this luxury in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. I want to compliment principals in the Western Cape like the late Messrs AG de Villiers and MN Moerat, who led by example.
Mr De Villiers taught Latin and history at Trafalgar High in Cape Town and Emil Weder High in Genadendal in the 1940s. He was appointed principal of South Peninsula High School (SPHS) in 1950.
The school served communities of the poor in the Steurhof, Retreat, Steenberg, Constantia, Wynberg, Lansdowne, Wetton, Kalk Bay and Simon’s Town areas.
He realised he had to provide a vision as part of his leadership to these communities. He proposed a vision of excellence in everything the school embarked on – excellent teachers; and he addressed the students as “students of excellence”.
SPHS soon became known as the 80% school in the South Peninsula area. With his leadership and management style it flourished.
Mr De Villiers was one of those progressive teachers who believed in students as human beings. No messing around with the ethnic identities imposed on people at the time. This insistence continues there.
Mr Moerat, who was Mr De Villiers’s right-hand man for 17 years, took over from him and carried on with the leadership and management style until his retirement in 1984.
He realised he had to develop a closer relationship with parents and introduced parent meetings from the 1970s. The school flourished.
Mr Moerat kept in touch with the retired Mr Dr Villiers about running the school.
To me this is a message to schools who want to do well. Tap into the good principals and teachers who went before you. You can learn much from them.
There is an obstinate and suicidal attitude which pervades many schools: “It is my time and I will do it my way”.
This has led to schools being dysfunctional and communities being disadvantaged
When I became principal in 1984 until I left teaching in 2016, I was privileged to work with the retired Mr Moerat for almost three decades until his death.
The school continued to follow the lessons of leadership and management of these two great educationalists.
SPHS is indebted to these two great persons. The school is what it is today due to the work of these visionaries.
Obviously the teachers who bought into the values of these two men played a huge role in cementing the excellence the school has produced.
The present leadership at the school should continue to build on the work of these two teachers.
SPHS flourished with Mr AG de Villiers’s leadership. He was one of those progressive teachers who beileved in students as human beings