Message from the head of school - 18 October 2018

The annual prizegiving held last Friday was a special evening that marked the individual achievements of the class of 2018. This gathering of the school under the stars is always a memorable occasion. Unfortunately, light drizzle caused us to hurry through the final awards, but the blessing of rain was a significant addition to the evening.

In his speech, the chairperson of the Board, Nigel Carman, referred to the strategic imperatives for the next five years. Transformation and diversity will continue to lead these directives. These two words are imbued with meaning, and understanding and interpreting them can differ, depending on perspective. I came across the following comment by Tami Maiwashe, co-chair of the transformation and diversity committee at The Diocesan School for Girls, Grahamstown:

“Recently one of our Diocesan School for Girls students asked me what transformation was with much bewilderment, and my instinct was to flip out, gloriously. I mean, so many advances and conversations later, and someone is still asking what we are trying to do? Yet on further contemplation, I realised that this brief moment summed up much of what our school’s transformation journey has meant for me.

“This journey has called for patience with people whose questions rub me up the wrong way. It has called for humility when it was easier to believe I was right about something and turn my back on anyone who thought otherwise. It has called for kindness and gentleness, and in fact all the other things that the apostle Paul once called “fruit of the Spirit” too. Indeed, a conviction I have inherited, is that transformation is fundamentally spiritual work, ‘inside’ work, heart work.

“The girl’s question also turns out to be a question I have heard many other times, in different guises. ‘What is the goal of transformation? Who is transforming, what is transforming, and into what? How will we know we have ‘transformed’?

“A powerful tenet of the agile software development methodology is that in a project, you define ‘done’. I think the same of transformation. We are never quite done, and in ongoing conversation, we keep defining a new ‘done’ to strive towards.

“For me, transformation is changing a space so that it enriches each of its inhabitants’ lives. The work looks different every day as different aspects of the space are addressed and, on some days, the work looks stagnant, because some features of the space refuse to budge. But for as long as everyone at least stays committed to doing the heart work – the recognising and unlearning of biases, the interrogating of reactions, the unpacking of privilege and how it can be shared and used positively – then we are always moving closer to ‘done’.”

There are a number of sports tournaments during the half-term break in which our girls will participate. I wish them well. Sarah Warner and I shall be attending the ISASA and SAHISA conferences in Sandton.

Deanne King

Head of School