School leadership lessons

The Leadership Lessons I’ve Learnt

As I’m writing this letter, I am weighed down by brown leather boots and a two-way radio protruding from my side! Not your typical school garb, but then again, I ‘retired’ at the end of 2021 and am now helping out on our Eastern Cape farm.

My tenure at the Bedford County School had run its course and the time was right for new leadership. It was time for me to move on.

To be honest, every so often I sigh a sigh of relief that I exited when I did. Times have never been this tough and school leaders are facing unprecedented challenges which I’m not always sure they’ve signed up for.

My tenure as head was a fraction of the lengths of the careers of most heads – I was only a school head for seven years, but during this time I immersed myself as deeply as I could into my school community and gave it my all.

Today I look back and often wonder how on earth I managed to juggle it all. Then I think of all the heads in our region, the country and the world, and I marvel at how they stay strong every day and continue the courageous work they have set out to do. Being the head of a school – no matter how big or small that school may be – is very, very tough.

During my 22 years in education and especially during the last seven, I have come into contact with the most incredible people all of whom made a significant impact on my life.

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to be part of ISASA and SAHISA and the kind, caring and patient people who make up these organisations.

The challenge for me now is to use what I’ve learnt over the past few years and apply the knowledge to my life postschool.

I have, for example, learnt that one should assume nothing (a very hard lesson!), know when to hold one’s tongue and which battles to pick, how to do things right the first time and how to keep perspective. These lessons surely apply to all situations and spheres of life.

My goal is to continue to play a meaningful and active role in our often struggling community.