From the Principal’s Desk – 31 January, 2019
Firstly, a sincere thank you to the large group of parents who attended my welcome function this week. It proved to be a most enjoyable evening for our parents and staff to socialize accompanied by some wine, snacks and jazz.
I include excerpts from my speech below for those parents who were unable to attend.
Unfortunately, we have had an unexpected and sudden resignation from Mr. Joshua Knipp, our Senior Primary and High School Physical Education teacher, who decided, for personal reasons, to return to his family in Port Elizabeth. We are, however, pleased to announce the appointment of Mrs. Claire Ashworth, a highly-experienced and passionate Physical Education educator and Sport Co-Coordinator, who already took over Mr. Knipp’s classes yesterday. We welcome her our school and wish her every success in her new position.
Words from the Welcome Evening speech:
I bring to this post, many years of educational management experience in a variety of successful independent schools in the country – which I intend drawing on in leading this school into the future. What is more, I have also been exposed to best practice in international schools through my visits to excellent schools around the world.
Whilst I am new to the IB, I have already participated in my first MYP training course, and will be attending a number of IB courses internationally over the next 2 years. I am also supported by a network of Heads in the IES group of schools, who have extensive knowledge of the IB.
Please rest assured that I am certainly not here to change all the good that has been achieved at the school over the past 20 years. Hout Bay International is a good school – but as I shared with the staff in their staff seminar at the beginning of the term – I would like it to be a Great School. I’d like to build on the strengths of the past, but at the same time to identify areas that can be improved upon to position Hout Bay International School as a truly sought-after world-class institution. And I have every confidence that this can be achieved.
Over the last two weeks, I have familiarised myself with the history of the school, its policies and procedures. I’ve met and liaised with the administrative and teaching staff and conducted my preliminary meetings with the Parents Association and Chelo committees – with some exciting projects in planning for the new year.
But most importantly, I’ve starting to get to know your children.
I find it so refreshing in the mornings when they walk up to me to greet me, shake my hand, and even some of the EY children give me a big endearing hug. I’m also working my way through the classes, having discussions with each year group to hear from our students what they value in their school and what they think we can change for the better. I’ve been so impressed by their openness, intelligence, engagement.
My management approach is strategic yet practical. It is said: “The visionary leader is one who has learned how to focus on the summit while clearing the path”.
And whilst change can be scary, progress often requires change. Henry Kissinger said: “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have never been”
For me, a good leader is also one who is both people-focussed and task-focussed. Treating everyone – staff, students, parents – with respect and dignity is paramount. However, excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high expectations, sincere effort, intelligent direction, skilful execution and the vision to see obstacles as opportunities.
I also believe that a successful school is a happy school. Students and staff thrive in a school where learning is fun. I’m reminded of the principles of the book “Fish” based on the operating principles of the Seattle Fish Market which was such a commercial success because the employees had such fun. The principles are to:
- Be There (engagement and focus on the client)
- Play (threw the fish across the stand and caught them in the air)
- Make their Day (make the clients’ day through your friendliness and efficiency)
- Choose your attitude (positive, upbeat, energized)
This school is already a happy place – your children love their school – and I look forward to creating many more opportunities for fun and enjoyment.
Finally, I take my job seriously – I have always regarded teaching as a calling – I became a teacher to make a difference. And as a Head, I am focused on making a difference in this school.
In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest critics; to appreciate beauty; to give of one’s self, to leave the world a bit better; whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – that is to have succeeded.”
I am excited about the future and look forward to working with you. The bar is now open – please enjoy the evening with us.