Excellent NEWS! - 2017

Neal Bresler - Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Welcome to our very first annual edition of Excellent NEWS! With the launch of our annual newsletter, you will experience some of the things that are happening behind the scenes, get a glimpse of what is happening on our campuses and have a view of what we are planning for the year ahead.  

A school is a product of the combined effort between all the individuals involved, whether it be theschool administration, the leadership team, staff members, parents, children or the community. The success of EduExcellence is equally determined by everyone involved. Through the leadership roles undertaken by both Neal and I, the wholehearted and selfless work of our campus principals, Rooie Robbertse and Sonja Engelbrecht, the endless efforts of our teachers, the positivity and level of involvement of our parents as well as the changes undergone by the learners, we will ultimately achieve our goals! We have made tremendous progress this year, all due to the fact that we have strong role-players who believe in what we are doing.

Change always brings about opportunities. We can choose to resist and be negative about change, which will generally make the process more difficult than what it needs to be, or we can be positive, embrace the opportunity that change presents and contribute to education in a worthy way. EduExcellence has grabbed the opportunity to change the face of education in South Africa within the niche segment in which we operate.

2017 In Retrospect:

Reflecting over the history of EduExcellence, there have been many years on which we can look back with fond memories, but 2017 has by far been the most radical of all. In the pursuit to accommodate our learners, we have adapted and made a lot of changes in EduExcellence this year as our understanding of their needs has changed. 2017 brought about the biggest change of all - that of the curriculum. Changing a school’s curriculum is like changing a countries currency. It is radical and far reaching, and it takes a long time for all the hidden coins and banknotes to be fully flushed from the system! People may think that this is a once-off change, a decision whereby we “pull” all the old books and supply the teachers with new books. Unfortunately, nothing can be further from the truth. In taking a decision like changing a school curriculum, years are spent on investigation, looking at the pro’s and con’s and visiting other schools that have taken this step. It is only after careful deliberation, that a school can take the first steps towards making changes at its core fundamental levels. This year, we have implemented the first steps, not only in EduExcellence Schools but also in our EduSkills Centres. The decision to move to internationally recognized curricula, places EduExcellence and our learners on the forefront of the educational wave in South Africa. This bold step forced us to adapt to international standards with regards to compliance and training.

No longer do we as a school body have to just comply with national standards, we can exceed them. However, EduExcellence is now flailed within the cadre of the big wide world out there. It is this realization which scares most teachers, parents and at times myself, but playing in this big pond is not as bad and scary as it may feel. It has opened us up to a wider arena and brought many gifts.

ISASA Registration, Cambridge Registration, internationally recognized teacher training, being registered as international schools and centres, being recognized as international examination centres, having access to hundreds, if not thousands of other teachers and resources, examination paper banks and online resources are but a few of the perks.

We can look back on a year where we literally took the first steps. Like all new things, we have many wrinkles to iron out. Moving curriculum is a daily commitment. It takes practice to not apply old thinking, old methods and old habits. Both Cambridge and ASDAN requires us as administrators and teachers to think outside of the box, to stretch ourselves to a new way of teaching. The desperate need for textbooks must make space for a two-way dialogue about subject content rather than mindless repetition without understanding. One-size-fits-all teaching methods must make way for whole-brain based learning. Lecture style and sleep-inducing classwork must make way for exciting experimentation and hands-on work. We do this, because we believe that this is what is needed. Both Cambridge and ASDAN allows us to shape the teaching around the needs of our learners, and not the other way around. These changes have required much from our Therapy Departments on both campuses as they needed to support not only the learners, but also teaching staff and parents with this paradigm shift. They have done a great job and I would like to thank Nastasha Jacobs, Yoelandie Swanepoel and Marna Saunders for taking the lead here.

We are by far not at the end of this initiation process. More training is needed. Our campus structure and resources need to be brought in alignment with the curriculum requirements, technology needs to be added and learning opportunities need to be created for both our teachers and our learners. We are excited about the future!

All in all, 2017 has been a year in which we went back to the foundations in order to rebuild and re-invent ourselves, and we like the view from this new vintage point.

2018 From This New Vantage Point:

With the first academic cycle behind us, we have much to offer in the new year. The foundations laid in 2017 will provide us with the stepping stones to launch into the new year with a greater understanding of what the new curricula requires from us and how it can best benefit our learners. With the introduction of more technology, thanks to the hard work and initiative of Neal Bresler, we can align the school environment with the real-world requirements placed on our children. 2018 will also see the implementation of some changes in the way we support our learners. This new and exciting product has been my pet project for the past year and you will receive more information on this in the second term. This product will bring us closer to our goal of providing Personal Education to all our children on all levels.

It is with a grateful heart, that I thank all involved, in small and big ways. Have a blessed time with your family and friends during this festive season.

Dr. Beulah van der Westhuizen