From the Principal’s Desk – 8 December 2016

Dear ISH Community

We come to the end of the year and have much to be grateful for as 2016 closes. I would like to share three pieces from the prize-giving speeches for you to take away into the December / January break. I wish you all a restful holiday and trust that you will enjoy quality time with your loved one. Thank you for your support for Helderberg International School. If you are staying at home, enjoy the beautiful Cape summer, if you are travelling, travel safely, go slowly and come back quickly. We look forward to seeing you all again in January.

At the Early Years prize-giving, we  recognised the lives of two special staff members who are leaving ISH at the end of 2016. Mrs Francis Hendricks and Mrs Alice Tinsley are long serving members of the Helderberg International School and I want to pay tribute to their contribution and service to the children and whole school community today.

Mrs Tinsley has been a teacher at ISH for ten years and is well-known for her commitment, unfailing energy, enthusiasm, love and care towards all aspects of the school and her students. Mrs Hendricks has had many roles and responsibilities during her thirteen years of service at ISH, working during the day and studying at night. Her dedication to teaching and learning and her continuous studies where she focused on Early Childhood saw her move into the classroom as a teacher. Her story at ISH is one of courage, determination and achievement. We are losing two very significant and valued members of our staff and it’s with a deep sadness that we say goodbye to them. Thank you, Teacher Francis and Mrs Tinsley for your dedication and loyal service to our school community. The lives of your students, the parents who over the years have recognized your teaching heart and valued your expertise and commitment to their children and your colleagues who relied on you and loved you, stand as testaments to you as teachers and your lives of service. We wish you everything of the very best for the future.

From the Primary School Awards Ceremony
‘Children are hard-wired to be resilient but rely heavily on significant adults for guidance and personal development. A parent is the single most influential adult in a child’s life. No other person affects a child’s development like a parent. To be a teacher is one of life’s greatest joys and much is written about it being a calling, not a job and like nursing, it is a call to live your life in the service of others. It’s also a career tainted by the media, especially television where teachers are portrayed as stupid, old-fashioned and easily fooled. But every one of us here today was once a child at school and teachers taught us, helped us, corrected us and grew us, in ways that helped make us who we are today. As parents and teachers, we team together to impact on the lives of the next generation and there can be no greater privilege than being a part of, being responsible for and building children who will drive the future. Homes and schools are social / emotional environments long before they are academic. Academics comes after the child is first placed to feel not only safe but cared for and cared about as an individual. But all learning, especially learning in the first 18 years of a child’s life begins with us, parents and teachers and the way we serve and model our actions and words to the children who are placed into our care, really matters.

At ISH we often speak about service and the importance of serving others. Service to others has many different shapes and spaces but the service I want to speak about today relies on two things that we all have embedded in us as humans; it’s in our very genetics – every person has these attributes. Firstly, it’s our presence. When we are present – in the place with our bodies, minds, emotions, engagement and spirit, we are present and only when all the pieces of us are present, do we really serve. Serving is modelled. The idea of ‘do what I say, don’t do what I do’ is rubbish. Children watch and do what we do. I watched a young boy at Strand Beach last Sunday trying to show his parents something he had found on the edge of the waves – I think it was a shell. They were there, but they weren’t present. Both of them were standing next to him but both were on their cell phones, frantically typing messages and sending them into cyberspace with an energy that suggested time itself was about to run out. Their presence was digital and this fragmentation of themselves was being shared with people who were not even there. The little boy eventually threw the shell back into the water and walked a short distance into the waves and just stood there. They didn’t even notice but he did. Our children want us present and completely without distraction. The second element of service is our words. Words and presence are like a virus. The authority of words. How do our children feel when they leave our presence – encouraged, enriched, hurt or neglected? And yes, they definitely still need the service of the words attached to Vitamin N. ‘No’. The word ‘no’ keeps our children safe, the words, ‘No, I love you too much to say yes. It doesn’t matter how many times you ask. I’m not moved by your tears; you can stop shouting and stamping your feet, the answer is still no’, keep them secure. Safe and secure whether we say no or I love you up the sky. We serve through our words. Words are as powerful as love. We must not get confused between service and indulgence. We cannot throw materialism at our children in exchange for our physical presence. Toys and entertainment will never be a substitute for being present and while children will often believe they need a new XBox, a TV in their bedroom and a cupboard full of branded clothing, it’s really just a want and not a need at all. Ask children what they want and they will tell you – time with parents and classes with teachers who care. I have heard these words over and over again in my years as an educator. We are born with the capacities as part of our human condition. We have no excuse to not serve.’

From the High School Awards Ceremony

Personally, I want to use this opportunity to thank you all for the support I have received from the ISH community as the Head of School since I started in 2015 and throughout 2016. Churchill said: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” To my staff, your hard work, energy and unfailing commitment to educating our students is valued and recognised through our witness of a happy secure student body with some achieving the top academic results in South Africa in 2015/2016.
We are a small, personal school and enjoy approaching education in creative and less traditional ways. To the parents, I thank you for believing in what we do and how we do things; for placing your children in our hands each day. We thank you for committing to transporting, working alongside the ISH team and supporting wherever you can. Thank you!

Churchill said: ‘The price of greatness is responsibility” To our students – this has been an extraordinary year at ISH. From the behaviour to the level of involvement in what we offer through to enjoying top academic results in Cambridge, you have made the most of 2016 and we are proud of you as individuals and as a collective group. I truly believe that you have begun to actively carry and live the philosophy of global citizenship and service that the school entrusts to each and every one of you.

I will leave you with this quote. “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom; justice; honor; duty; mercy; hope”. Winston Churchill.

Yours sincerely
Mr G. C. Kitching
Head of School