As many of you will know, at traditional, historically time-honoured schools like The Ridge a special assembly is set aside on 11 November each year to observe a formal Remembrance Day Service.
This year was no different and perhaps, given the poignancy that our Centenary year brought to bear, there was something understandably a little more meaningful and moving about the service.
Moeketsi Motsepe and his Grade 7 boys did a fine job of bringing the Armistice message home to the SP boys, staff and a good smattering of parents. With everyone wearing the synonymous red poppy as a symbol of unity and ‘Lest We Forget’, we were able to stand in silent tribute to honour the twenty-three Ridge lads who fell in battle during the 2nd World War. The Grade 7 boys, did well too, to mention and so remind the congregation of the many others who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of peace, justice and equality for all.
Ridge staff members on the move:
As always at this time of the year, as we prepare to draw near to bringing the curtain down on our 2019 scholastic programmes, we will be saying goodbye to a number of staff members from a variety of departments within the school. As expected, it is important to keep parents in the picture as this pertains to staff movement and our related recruitment and employment processes.
Retirement at the end of 2019 and related replacements:
- Janet van der Poel / Fox (Director of Music and Performing Arts). During the past 27 years, Janet has masterminded and established what is arguably one of the finest Music Departments in any boys’ prep school in the country. Her passion for music and the performing arts, her strong, people-centred leadership of her department, her genius in being able to bring music alive in the hearts of her pupils, and her uncanny ability to bring the best out of her boys, will keep her legacy alive here at The Ridge for the next 100 years.
Those of us responsible for finding Janet’s replacement have, understandably, been faced with a really challenging and, needless to say, interesting task. After seven months of interviewing, observing, more interviewing and plenty of deliberation, we have decided to replace Janet with two people: a Director of Choral Music and a Head of Instruments and Performing Arts.
The Director of Choral Music position was given to a gentleman who, as a specialist music educator, a musician and a choir master had all that we understood to be essential as one of Janet’s replacements. Having signed the employment contract on the 12th August, I received a communique from him at the beginning of November to inform me that he is no longer able to honour the agreement. We have re-advertised and are in the process of interviewing. In all likelihood, the successful applicant will probably only be able to join us at the start of the 2nd Term.
This being the case, as we return next year, Irene Morrick, who has many years of experience as a choir mistress, an accompanist, and an accomplished musician who holds a Masters in Music degree, will oversee and run the Choral Music and will receive assistance from other members of the Music Department.
I would like to assure parents that The Ridge Music Department and our Exco team will move heaven and earth to make sure that our school music programmes remain ‘on song’.
The Head of Instruments and Performing Arts position will be taken up by Mr Leslie Elderkin. He will also take up his new role at the beginning of next year. Leslie is a young, vibrant and highly skilled musician who plays sting, brass and woodwind instruments.
- Euphane Richardson will leave us after 17 years as Head of Orchestra and Instrument Training. Euphane has been a quiet and humble, but extremely talented and successful instrument teacher during her many years as Janet’s trusted lieutenant. Euphane is taking early retirement.
Mr Elderkin will absorb Euphane’s portfolio of responsibilities within his newly established position. He is eminently qualified and experienced to take over the reins from Janet and Euphane as he leads the instruments section of our Ridge music programme to new heights.
- Izette Varty has worked at The Ridge for the past 12 years; five of these as Head of Afrikaans. She has been a devoted, boy-centred head of department during this time and has done well to guide her Afrikaans teaching team to new heights of delivery in recent years. She too has decided to take early retirement in order to be able to spend more time with her grandchildren.
The new Head of Afrikaans is Christina Mashobane. Christina is an experienced teacher having taught at Hilton College and Pridwin. She has a rich background in languages being fluent in six South African languages. Christina’s mother tongue is Afrikaans.
- Zanele Zuma is retiring as Head of isiZulu. Mama Zuma has been at The Ridge for six-and-a-half years and has been head of department for all of that time. She will be joining he husband Silas as, together, they enjoy some well-deserved R&R.
Zabula Dladla has been appointed as Head of SP isiZulu and Thuli Zulu as Head of JP isiZulu. Both are currently part of our isiZulu teaching team and are exciting and dedicated young teachers eager to take the teaching of isiZulu to a new level.
- Jan Mallen will be retiring following six years of distinguished service as the Head of our Lighthouse Learning Support team. Jan stepped into the role following her retirement from Roedean where she had been headmistress for fifteen years. Being the first head of Learning and Academic Support at The Ridge, she took it upon herself to establish a Lighthouse intervention and therapy unit that, since its inception, has provided invaluable academic support, guidance and wise counselling to so many young Ridge lads and their parents. Jan will not be lost to us completely as she has agreed to remaining on in a part-time mentoring capacity.
I am pleased to share that Agnes Jooste (currently part of the Lighthouse Remedial teaching team) will be taking over from Jan Mallen as Head of Learning Support.
Agnes’s specialist Learning Support role will be taken by Jacqui Haddow who is currently a Grade 2 class teacher. She has vast experience in teaching boys and, in particular, JP boys with learning difficulties.
Jacqui’s Grade 2 class teacher role will be taken up by Kim Hansen who will be joining us from Parklands Prep School in the SW Cape.
- John Mathongwane has worked at The Ridge for the past 21 years. He has been a solid and dependable member of the Estate team for all of that time and, in recent years, has worked as a senior assistant to Chris Perumal and Isaac Mogano.
- Seciliah Malapile will be leaving our Housekeeping division following 22 years of devoted service. She has been a behind-the-scenes, loyal supporter of The Ridge and has given much in her own way to vital aspects of the school’s housekeeping requirements.
Resignations as they will take effect from the end of 2019 and related replacements:
- Damian Pakkiri will be taking up the headship of The Kings School in Linbro Park. Damian joined The Ridge in January 2011 and quickly established himself as a very able Maths teacher and tennis coach. He has led the Maths Department for all nine years. He is a respected and very able member of the teaching staff and has, this year, been a member of our Manco Curriculum Design and Development team.
The Acting Head of Mathematics position has been given to Daniel McLachlan, currently a Grade 5 class teacher. Daniel is an experienced and seasoned Maths teacher and a specialist Mathematician who has taught Mathematics to matric level. A new Grade 5 class teacher has been appointed. Scott Mallen will join us in January as a well-qualified English and Drama teacher.
- Susan Hughes joined us at the beginning of the year as a Grade 6/7 English specialist teacher. She will be joining her husband in their relocation to Mozambique.
Susan will be replaced by Naadhirah Loonat who is a young English specialist teacher, eminently well suited to join Urvasi Naidoo’s accomplished team of English teachers.
- Rosalind Page joined us as a Grade 0 teacher at the beginning of 2019. She has two very young children and the call to be mum and to see her children into the early phases of their elementary learning has meant that she will leave us in December.
With the introduction of a stretch fourth Grade 0 class for the year that the Board of Governors has agreed to and that will have a duel role of shrinking individual class numbers to 18 per class whilst providing enrolment space for an additional six wait list boys, means that we have employed two specialist Grade 0 teachers. Ashley Keene joins the ECD teaching team and Debra Coetzer (currently in a co-teacher capacity) returns to a full teacher role in the additional Grade 0 class. Nozipho Ndiweni has been employed as a new ECD Phase co-teacher.
- Kathi Rossouw will be moving up to Grade 1 having been teaching in the ECD Phase for the past 11 years and Grade 1 for the 10 years prior to that. Sarah Behr moves back to Grade 0 from Grade 1 and will take over as the new Head of Grade 0.
- It is important to note that all new teachers have been assigned an experienced mentor. These seasoned Ridge educators will support, guide and stay close to them during the first few months of their time with us. This will be in addition to the advice and encouragement that members of the Exco team will be providing.
- Richard Leaver has worked both as a teacher intern and as a student master during his eight years at The Ridge. Having completed his B Ed degree earlier this year he will be heading overseas to share his passion for teaching with children at a school in Singapore.
- Teboho Dlamini joined The Ridge in January 2015 as one of the first Realema Interns. He has worked hard to make his mark as a student teacher and aspirant sports coach. He will be completing his degree now and has decided to rejoin his old school as a young teacher keen to give back.
- Some of our music peripatetic teachers are also seeking new horizons. Jean-Louise Parker and her husband Alex, both having taught music instruments here at The Ridge for seven years, are emigrating to Germany. Danel Mecloen will be taking up a permanent music teaching position at St Katharine’s.
A Final Word:
We have three weeks left of the school year. With the sports arrangements beginning to slow down and with the focus in the Senior Primary shifting to 2nd Semester exams, mark order meetings and all that will purpose our lads to finish the year on an academic high, I would remind parents to please stay close to and refer to our Live Calendar. Should an arrangement or some information be confusing or unclear please don’t hesitate in contacting the relevant person here at school who can clear things up for you or who will point you in the right direction.
Warm regards and best wishes as we look forward to enjoying the last three weeks of our memorable Centenary year.