Waterfall College opens new preparatory school

| April 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

BY KERYN HOUSE AND RIKKI THORESSON

Before the busy town of Hillcrest developed in KwaZulu-Natal, there existed a large plot of land housing the All Africa Bible College, positioned high on a hill overlooking the Valley of 1000 Hills. The college opened in 1978.

Missionary students from all over the continent would travel to this place to study the scriptures before returning home to spread the gospel. They would stay in the dormitories located along the ridge, facing the valley and the Drakensberg Mountains in the distance. At night, when looking up at the vast skies, the Milky Way appeared intensely bright, as there was very little light around, and those regarding the heavens imagined the growth that would one day take place on this celebrated plot of land.

Integration the result of strategic imagination

Fast-forward to today, and this plot of land – which became known as the iThemba Campus – has grown to be an educational hub, focused on the development of future leaders. Since opening its doors in 2004, the iThemba Campus has been a haven that provides quality foundation phase education to disadvantaged children from the Valley of 1000 Hills. This progress is the result of the work of a team of dedicated volunteers and friends, and the Christian ethos of the campus. The All Africa Bible College, which is still running, left the iThemba Campus property in 2012. The introduction of Waterfall Pre-Primary to the campus in 2015 was the first stepping stone to achieving a long-term sustainable mission.

The strategic decision has now been made to develop an integrated, independent, co-educational pathway for children from infancy to young adulthood (six months to 18 years). Three schools will be situated on the 40 acre iThemba Campus, and will be known collectively as Waterfall College. The high school (Waterfall College) and the pre-primary school (Waterfall Pre-Primary School) are already well established on the campus, and the new primary school (Waterfall Preparatory School) welcomed its first Grade 1 to Grade 3 students in January 2017.

The three Waterfall College schools

1. Waterfall Pre-Primary School (infant to preschool)

Waterfall Pre-Primary School has a long and well-respected reputation in the Hillcrest community. The move to the iThemba Campus in January 2015 – to a new, carefully designed, purpose-built premises – has seen a 75% growth in enrolment. This is a reflection of the empathetic, child-centred ethos fostered by the dedicated staff. The school motto, “Play, Learn and Grow”, underpins the daily structures and curriculum within the school. The school caters to children from six months to Grade 00.

2. Waterfall Preparatory School (Grade R to Grade 7)

For many years, the parents of Waterfall Pre- Primary School have been asking for the next step in their children’s educational career to be an extension of the ethos of this popular preschool. The preparatory school opened this year (2017), offering Grade R to Grade 3 in new, state-of-the-art classroom facilities. Eight new classrooms include art and music rooms. Building on the established Waterfall College foundation of Christian values, Waterfall Preparatory School aims to reinforce the pillars of achievement: academics, sport, culture, technology, leadership and service. Sports activities currently offered on campus are soccer, rugby, fitness, cross-country athletics, karate, majorettes and netball. Sharron Lane, foundation phase school advisory head for the preparatory school, says: “Education does not cover a subject; it uncovers a subject. This spells out our philosophy as we embark on developing and maintaining a quality educational hub on this magnificent campus.” The development of the preparatory school allows a seamless transition for children from the preprimary school into quality foundation and senior primary phases, before entry to the already well-established Waterfall College Senior School.

3. Waterfall College Senior School (Grade 8 to Grade 12)

Waterfall College, known as “the school with the personal touch”, is a longstanding member of ISASA, accredited by Umalusi1 and the Independent Quality Assurance Agency (IQAA)2 and a well-established Independent Examinations Board (IEB)3 examination centre, and has been on the iThemba Campus since 2008. Principal Jeanette van der Merwe has created an efficient management team to maintain the school’s Christian values and excellent academic record.

A consistent 100% matric pass rate has been achieved, and the percentage of Bachelor degree passes was the highest ever in the matric class of 2015. Staffing has always been a unique differentiator at Waterfall College, as the operational model has enabled highly experienced part-time teachers to work in their specific subject areas of expertise to produce optimal results. Staff and students enjoy access to uncapped internet on campus, using any device of choice. This enables lesson methodology to be enhanced by technology.

The positive results of a recent IQAA survey have laid the groundwork for further staff development opportunities in this area. The school’s outdoor programme remains an integral part of the curriculum. Students learn teamwork, leadership skills and environmental appreciation outside the classroom. These activities complement the school’s service outreach activities in the local community. Waterfall College students are given leadership opportunities in roles such as prefects and portfolio heads to build maturity and responsibility.

Parents appreciate the small classes, as well as the school’s pioneering spirit and caring approach. Principal Jeanette van der Merwe says: “The interest in Waterfall College is definitely growing. Our established schools are thriving, and there is keen interest in our new preparatory school, which will fill a crucial need in our educational offering. The future of Waterfall College as a Christian-based educational centre of excellence in this part of South Africa is unlimited as we implement the new vision on the iThemba Campus.”

So when you are next in Durban, take a drive up the hill to the suburb of Hillcrest, and visit the newest, fully integrated independent school in the region. Located behind the Cotswold Downs Lifestyle Estate and in close proximity to the new Watercrest Mall, it is a campus steeped in Christian heritage, boasting enviable indigenous vegetation. In addition, you can experience the spectacular view that will be enjoyed by many future generations of Waterfall College students. 

Keryn House is the marketer at Waterfall College and Rikki Thoresson is the brand manager at Waterfall Pre-Primary and Preparatory School.

References:
1. See: http://www.umalusi.org.za/.
2. See: http://iqaa.co.za/about/iqaa.
3. See: http://www.ieb.co.za/.

Category: Autumn 2017

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