As we come to the end of this term, it is with much gratitude in my heart that I write this week’s newsletter. This has not been an easy term for anyone, parents, students and teachers alike. We have all had to adapt to a new type of “normal”, adjust our thinking and challenge ourselves in everything we attempted.
I hope you now understand what we mean when we say that ‘teaching is a calling’. I do not think there is any teacher who is in this profession for anything other than the love of children. After all, our children are our future. We nurture them so they may create a better tomorrow.
I salute every one of you parents. You have been challenged in this storm and have endured. At times you might have felt fearful of the unknown, yet every day brings new hope.
I am reminded of a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:
“I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experience behind him.”
To every student, I wish you a wonderful time of rest during this holiday. May the time spent with family be one of joy and laughter.
To my staff, I wish a time of rest and refreshment. We will start the new term with renewed vigour and strength.
Stay safe and keep warm.
This week I visited my optician and had an interesting conversation. As we both have 15-year old’s at home we naturally got chatting as to how they have been coping during lockdown. Both our children are coping with online-learning and have no issue working independently. As mothers, however, we both feel that something is missing, that they are missing out on something vital. This realization was born out of a shared experience of dealing with a teenage meltdown and it was so good to talk to someone who had had a similar experience.
I shared with her that I gave my daughter an “emotional well-being” day. I told her to not log in to the online-learning portal but rather spend the day doing something she enjoys, whether it be trying a new recipe or finishing her book or puzzle. The important factor was to take a break from what has become the new normal of online work and learning. This break motivated her and she was inspired to continue. Too often we forget that our children are also dealing with this new way of living and that it can cause them to become demotivated.
We have all had different experiences during the lockdown period and as the levels are reduced, we are faced with going back to work and learners coming back to school. Our learners will have to adapt to school life again, but a vastly different school life than what they were used to.
How we will rebuild their morale:
- We must reconnect with our learners before and on their return to school.
- Involve the students in developing a plan to improve the school environment. Things will be different, and they need to adapt. We should therefore allow them their input as we plan the way forward.
- Team workshops with staff where they develop individual improvements plans. We have had a great opportunity to adapt to new teaching methods and this can only improve in time.
I had several private meetings with some of our Year 12 learners this week. They were sad about the planned community projects they were not able to take part in this week.
I am sure that when we return to school, they will once again think of innovative ideas as to how to help our community in the year ahead.
Together we can do better!
Have a wonderful weekend.
We are slowly but surely moving towards the end of the term. I wish to let you all know that your efforts and support of our teachers has not gone unnoticed. It has taken courage, commitment, and tenacity to accomplish what we did this past term and for that, I thank you.
As communicated in our ‘Return to school’ letter, as well as in our Health and Safety Policy document, Blouberg International is ready for the next step. Although we do not have all the answers, I wish to put your minds at ease that the staff of Blouberg International is committed to the safety and education of our children as we enter this next phase of lockdown.
We all have managed to make the best of a difficult situation and we cannot sugarcoat the situation we find ourselves in. There has been many frustrating moments, disappointments, and heartaches. I am particularly mindful of our class of 2020 as there are so many things they are missing out on. There is uncertainty as to whether we can hold their 2020 Valedictory Service and Matric Dance (to some this might seem insignificant, but it is an important event for the matric students).
So how do we help our children process the anger and disappointment they are feeling? They have not been able to socialize with friends for over 60 days and miss their friends, sports, school (bet they never thought they would). They have all had to adjust to a new type of abnormal normality.
- Validating what they are feeling and their emotions. We are validating the emotion, not the behavior. It is important to understand what they feel is real and therefor they need to talk it through to overcome it.
- Create a sense of security within them. They should always be aware that there is a safe haven with you. Reassurance, routine, and regulation is important.
- Increase children’s self-efficacy. Children often feel more in control of their emotions when they can play an effective role in helping themselves.
“In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love. In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile. In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, and invincible calm. I realized, through it all, that in the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger- something better, pushing right back.” – Albert Camus
I wish you all a wonderful weekend ahead.
Today, Friday 22nd of May, our high school and admin staff were trained in Risk Assessment and Orientation for COVID 19. Our Health and Safety Committee met on Thursday, 21st May, to finalize the Risk Assessment Document for Blouberg International. As discussed previously, the school is currently being deep cleaned and sanitized for the return of students and staff.
The SMT of the school also met on Thursday to discuss the return of students and the address of our Minister of Education on Tuesday, 19th May. It is important that we keep to the legislation from the Education Department and the government. As an independent school we are awaiting the final decision as to whether we can allow other year groups to return to school; the Year 7’s and 12’s being the initial groups identified by the minister for first return.
We will communicate the year groups to return, date and manner of return, with you as soon as we are able. Even though the minister has authorized certain year groups to return to school, we are mindful that some parents are still not comfortable sending learners back. We are revising our plans accordingly and no learner will be left behind. Our Risk Assessment Policies have been documented and the information will be shared with both staff and learners on their return.
A detailed document will be sent to you within the next week after we have finalized our planning. Our learners will also go through an orientation program on Covid 19 Safety Protocols prior to starting school.
I thank you for your support during this time and assure you that your concerns and suggestions are taken into consideration.
Have a wonderful weekend.
I am sure that, like me, you have mixed feelings about the President’s address last night. Earlier this month, the 5th of May 2020, you received a letter regarding potential dates for the return to school and the measures which need to be in place before this is possible.
Although we are an independent school, we are obliged (as are government schools) to await confirmation from the government before we reopen. Originally, we were informed that students in Year 7 and Year 12 would be returning to school on the 1st of June 2020 and hence, management took the necessary measures of ordering hand sanitizer, face masks, thermometers and having the school deep-cleaned.
The Minister of Basic Education, Mrs. Angie Motshekga, is scheduled to address the nation on Monday the 18th of May, after which we hope to have a better idea of which grades will return to school. The results of our second survey, regarding students returning to school, indicated that 75% of parents are not willing to send their children back for the two weeks before the end of the second term (which ends on the 12th of June 2020). We respect and understand your feelings in this matter and hope to reassure you that the best interests of our students are always at the forefront of our planning. To accommodate the needs of all our students, we will therefore implement a plan of hybrid teaching for as long as is required.
A letter detailing the plan of action for Blouberg International will be sent to you after Minister Motshekga’s address on Monday. Let us continue building our children and planning for a better future for them.
In the words of Nelson Mandela:
“It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build.”
Have a wonderful weekend
Like me, I am sure all of you have been following the news avidly, waiting for an announcement from the Minister of Education which will see us return to school. The process of returning to school is a balancing act in which we weigh the need for students to return to the classroom with the necessity of ensuring everyone’s safety. Rest assured though that when the day comes when we do return to school, there will be strict safety measures in place to ensure the safety of everyone on campus.
When I think about returning to school, I realise the enormity of the task ahead of us; the factors we must consider and the preparations which need to take place. Even our ‘drop and go’ routine in the mornings will have to alter radically. We will have to screen temperatures and ensure that all the classrooms remain hygienic throughout the day. It will be a continuous process of sanitizing: hands, doors, desks, bathrooms and corridors. And let’s not forget the all-important face masks!
The questions which roll through one’s mind as we contemplate the process follow a common pattern: Will the children understand the requirement of social distancing? How will we handle classroom management? How do we prevent contact and overcrowding? All these questions and so many more are exactly what we Heads mull over together.
This week we started with our first online assemblies. The responses from 198 students on one platform at the same time was overwhelming, but then as I watched I could see the excitement on their faces and I realized that it was being together again which was evoking such an enthusiastic response from the children. After a vigorous run of muting everyone so we could hear ourselves think, we were able to begin the assembly. We listened to Mrs. Schoots deliver words of encouragement and handed out star certificates. Our second attempt the following day was much smoother and less chaotic.
I am reminded once again of the lessons which we learn something from our children. They have an incredible ability to be resilient in any crisis. They adapt and thrive to any challenging situation we immerse them in and grow to be even stronger than we thought possible. Our involvement as parents in their education is crucial during this difficult time as their daily struggles and achievements provide insight into their development and character.
Let’s not walk away from experience without taking some good lessons with us. Together we are better.
Have a wonderful long weekend!
Today would have been the end of the lockdown period, a measure which called for rapid adjustment. I am sure that most of you were just as disappointed as I was to hear that lockdown has been extended. We all understand the necessity of such action, but the daily reality remains tough. We still have family and work commitments, whilst being mindful of what the future may hold. In no way do I mean to sound pessimistic; I would rather speak openly about the reality we face. We must try to not be fearful or become resentful and despondent. We will all undoubtedly suffer twinges of these emotions from time to time, but they are not a healthy place to dwell. We are not always aware of the specific challenges faced by each individual or family, but I believe there does exist a common empathy amongst South Africans. Practice kindness and wherever you can, stretch out a hand or a sympathetic ear.
Parents, we are so grateful for your support during this time. Your encouraging messages and emails are much appreciated. To all my staff, I wish for you to know how proud I am of your hard work and dedication. You continue to serve our students and their families with commitment and care. I am sure you are missing the students as much as I am. We are teachers because we love the interaction our job brings, the daily chatter and bustle of a busy classroom. We all miss the cheerful meet and greets in the morning, the laughter and games during break time. The chatter of voices in the corridors and the slam of lockers. Yes, we miss it all!
May the next two weeks of lockdown be a time of positivity and let’s look forward to the morning school run.
I wish you all a wonderful weekend ahead.
This week we opened the renovated bathrooms downstairs! The students and staff were in awe and could not contain their excitement. We request that you remind them about good stewardship and the importance of taking care of our environment and the things entrusted to us.
Our high school students have started their Term 1 test week today and we wish them all the best for every test. Remember: proper planning prevents poor performance!
Our Year 5 students had a wonderful time at Buffalo Drift Camp last week and returned full of exciting stories to share. Our Year 6 students have returned from camp this afternoon and we are looking forward to hearing all about their adventures.
Last Friday the high school held their annual Valentine’s Dance and the turnout of students was excellent. It was our Year 7’s first high school dance and they had a wonderful time. We wish to thank all the students who attended on their impeccable behavior and the Year 11 students for organizing the event and decorating the hall so wonderfully.
Cultural activities are important in achieving balance in a school community. At Blouberg International we are great supporters of the arts and love to see our students involved in drama productions. We are therefore very excited that next Friday, the 6th of March, a group of students are performing ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ for the annual Shakespeare Festival at the Fugard Theatre. We are certain they are going to be a great success and ask you to join us for their second performance on Saturday the 7th March at school in the Junior Hall.
I wish you all a wonderful weekend of family time.
It was an absolute pleasure to see our students dress up for the civvies day yesterday. What was even more awesome to see, is how the love was shared through friendships and that the emphasis was on loving one another as friends.
This is a key lesson of kindness and care that should be instilled at a very young age.
In our newsletter last week, I shared on the challenges we as educators face at school regarding cyber bullying, so called “freedom of speech” in Whatsapp groups and the negative effect it has on our children. Sadly, this is not a teenage problem, but students as young as 9 years old, are bombarded with content on their phones which are not age appropriate.
We had the pleasure of hosting a talk with Emma Sadleir last night and we are very grateful to the parents who made the effort to come and listen. We wish to commend each and every one who attended last night as it showed your support in raising a generation equipped to deal with the technological challenges.
We will schedule another session with her to address our students soon. It is vital that we are aware of the beast we deal with and as parents to be equipped to train our children.
Have a wonderful weekend of shared love with family and friends
With only two weeks left of the 2019 academic year, things can feel a bit overwhelming for parents and teachers alike.
On Monday morning there was a buzz of excitement as students were introduced to their new teachers for 2020. A Year 1 student could barely contain her excitement as I passed her in the corridor and, with a grin a mile wide, announced, ‘I am Year 2 now!’ It was heartwarming to see the excitement and pride in her face and reminded me what an exciting experience this transition is for the students.
2019 was not without its challenges, but here we stand, and look how far we have come. We have been tested and learnt new lessons and it is with a positive and optimistic outlook that we approach the new academic year. With the festive season on our doorstep there is much to look forward to, and beyond that, the opportunities that come with a new year. The final stages of planning for the 2020 academic year are underway as a gentle hum of happy anticipation fills the corridors.
We are looking forward to our Moonlight Market tomorrow night and I encourage everyone to come along and enjoy the festivities! The event will run from 17h00 to 21h00 with plenty of fun activities and delicious treats for the whole family. I look forward to seeing you all there.
Have a wonderful weekend.