Nelson Mandela, our beloved former president once said: ‘education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world’. It’s a rather lofty idea, isn’t it? Changing the world. One would be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed by the thought. How could a single person meaningfully affect the thousands of schools in our country, much less the world? And, yet; here is Partners for Possibility doing exactly that.
This is Simbithi Eco-Estate’s fourth year in partnership with PfP, a unique leadership programme that pairs a businessman or woman with a principal for a year. Through a series of workshops, leadership courses, professional coaching and discussion, the programme aims to bring positive change to schools.
As an anchor partner, Simbithi is the home of PfP on the North Coast where circles are facilitated by resident and life coach, Terry Dearling. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic meant North Coast Circle 4 had to find creative ways to advance their partnerships. We caught up with our two partnerships: Technical Manager Nicky Misra with Lloyd Primary School principal Thokozani Potelwa and Marketing & Communications Co-Ordinator Jodi Chetty with Buffesldale Secondary School principal, Dr. Mona Singh.
As they end the official portion of their PfP journey and look ahead to strengthening their bonds, we asked Nicky and Jodi to share what the PfP programme has meant to them.
It was truly amazing. Along my journey I formed relationships and made a wonderful new group of friends: this was my prized possession. At all our meetings – the triads, Community of Practices – we were encouraged to be free and transparent, which allowed me to open up, speak my mind and my feelings. This has increased my confidence drastically, especially when I’m in front of a large audience.
I had always believed that being in a partnership meant giving something tangible back to my partner and his school; this misconception has been dispelled. I know understand the true essence of the partnership is helping each other during times of need, being able to rely and lean on each other for guidance and assistance.
Visiting the different schools during our COPs and seeing how they function despite their daily challenges. Seeing the smiling faces of the learners and happy educators filled me with immense joy.
Thokozani and I have agreed to keep supporting each other, and to resume our plan to improve the landscaping of the school’s play area. Currently, the children have no secure and safe area to play during breaktime. I have the SEEHOA team behind me, who will actively assist in making this a reality.
I have always been apprehensive in certain spaces because I’m young (much younger than most of my colleagues) and female. Through PfP I discovered this is not a weakness; rather, it’s a strength. My youth allows me to bring a fresh perspective to most situations. I am no longer afraid to speak out and disrupt repetitive thinking: this is a tool we learned during the Community Building workshop.
There was a moment during our COP at Redcliffe Primary that got me all warm and fuzzy: the school has a vegetable garden where I spotted four pink toadstools. During breaktime, I snuck past the caretaker and hopped around the crops until I found a toadstool to sit on. I had been having a difficult week and that moment made me stupidly happy. When I returned to the session, I expected everyone to laugh, and berate me for being childish (what 30-year-old rolls around with a toadstool in uniform?) but…I was applauded for embracing the child in me and not being afraid to do something that made me smile. That was a defining moment and has been pivotal in my journey to self-acceptance.
I always thought silence was bad, bad, bad. That I needed to talk to fill silence. Completing the Time to Think course taught me that silence is necessary, sometimes, to create a space for thinking. If we calmly collect our thoughts and speak only when we have something meaningful to contribute, even dissent is delivered constructively.
My partner, the incomparable Dr. Mona Singh was recently promoted to Circuit Manager in her district (well done, Mona!) so, I am sad to ‘lose’ her. We started some great work at Buffelsdale in terms of culture, branding and marketing so I hope to continue this with whomever fills Mona’s chair.
If you would like to find out more about contributing to Simbithi’s two ‘adopted’ schools, and those we are still partnered with from previous circles e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.