From the Junior School head's desk: 24 November 2023

Sarah Warner

There is so much to celebrate in the Junior School as we approach the end of the year and marvel at how much our children from Grades 000 to Grade 7 have grown. We prepare ourselves to say goodbye to our girls leaving for Senior School as well as our Little Saints boys who are moving to Grade 0 at new schools, and we give the children we have walked alongside for a year into the hands of our colleagues in a higher grade. The process is emotionally demanding: the immense gratification of seeing children move on convincingly is matched only by the ambivalence of letting them go.

Of course, the children are not the only ones who move on and up in the school, and year end is a time for us to reflect on our experiences as a community, what we have achieved and what still remains to be done. My thanks to all the parents who have engaged with us, given us their time, and taken opportunities to participate and be present in the life of the school. I am especially grateful to our head of the PA, Lebo Mpumlwana, her colleague, Anna Hansel, and their team for the energy and renewed vision they have brought to community events this year; also, to our class rep co-ordinator, Gugu Zulu, and the Junior School class reps, for their invaluable support.

The year 2023 has been a rewarding but strenuous year: we have worked hard and learnt a lot – and the learning continues. It is in the spirit of continued learning and in recognition of our desire, always, to do better, that I draw your attention to ongoing and unbecoming friction between parents and our staff, and parents with each other in the Junior School parking lot and stop-and-drop area. Our support staff led by operations supervisor, Mr Theuns Mahloko, as well as our security guards who monitor traffic in and out of the gates on Burn Street report ill treatment and rudeness from our parents regularly; and just last week, parents, teachers and girls were witness to an altercation at the stop-and-drop that involved the verbal abuse and public haranguing of one parent by another.

Outbursts directed at our staff or at other parents are not only never justified, they also are at odds with our ethos, and tear at the fabric of our community – a community that is dedicated to raising children together. A teacher’s duty of care extends to modelling decent, civil behaviour for the children she teaches, and in the Junior School we work intentionally at creating an environment that recognises the dignity of everyone who inhabits it. Our children should feel safe in the expectation that all the adults on our campus will treat each other with respect and that they will behave with restraint in each other’s presence. This is a reasonable expectation and one that we should hold each other to at all times, but especially as the term draws to a close, tempers fray and our patience sometimes wears thin.

We have so much to celebrate and to be grateful for, a theme Mrs Gordon and Mrs Di Benedetto have been exploring with the Junior Primary girls in assembly. We honour our children when we honour each other, and when we conduct ourselves – in the words of a well-known school prayer – “as if the whole world saw” (William DeWitt Hyde).


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