It’s a very strange feeling moving into somebody else’s office after they have retired. Earlier this year I was in that very strange place. The lady (Mrs. Elmine Middlewick) I had taken over from had left her mark on Woodlands Primary College in her twelve years at the helm. She can still be seen all over the campus: in the smiles of the happy children, in the excellent IBT (International Bench Mark) results from 2017, and even in the wonderful artworks spread around the campus.
However, the baton has changed hands now and it will be my vision for Woodlands College in the future. That vision has three parts:
Firstly, as an Educational Psychologist, the focus for me, is on the individual child at Woodlands. I want Woodlands to become known as a school where the individual really counts. I want to celebrate successes with individuals and support all of those with problems or barriers. I want a place for everyone in all teams or groups. No child should ever say “I would like to participate, but I didn’t make the team”. In my Woodlands there will be a place for all children in all teams. Of course I also want to win matches or contests, but there will always be a team for those who just want to have fun. I want the word “Inclusive” to really mean inclusive of all. The diversity of the current student body at Woodlands is indicative of this concept of inclusivity of all cultures and religions. We don’t just tolerate diversity at Woodlands, we celebrate it!
Secondly, to find that elusive balance between embracing technology in all its forms in our classrooms, while still adhering to tried and tested traditional methods. We have introduced iPads and digital textbooks in our Middle College phase, but we still write in our books every day. We will continue to explore new technologies in the classroom, and it sometimes feels like our children are leading us, in terms of the future! Coding and robotics seem to have become an integral part of any modern syllabus, and we will not be left behind in that sphere.
Thirdly, when I am asked as to what will set Woodlands apart from other similar schools, my feeling is that it will ultimately be in the Arts fields. My vision is to grow our Art and Drama and Music departments to a level which will make them competitive with any school in the country. We have very strong sports teams and our general academic achievements are at the highest level, but it is in the generally undervalued and underrated arts fields that we will shine.
Finally, in the closing words of our school song “We can rise, we will rise, see us rise”. Join us on that rise above mediocrity!
Dr. Greg Pienaar
Principal of the Junior College