TAKE LESSONS FROM VI­SION­ARY SCHOOL LEAD­ERS AND MAN­AGERS OF THE PAST

Cape Times - - METRO -

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

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