Vista Junior Academy joins ISASA

| January 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

BY LIZANDRA WESSELS

Vista Junior Academy in Bloemfontein, in the Free State, is the actualisation of a long-standing dream for 81-year-old Koos Engelbrecht, the founder and father of Edulife’s very first school, Academy of Excellence.

Edulife Group is the largest independent school group in the Free State, leveraging over 20 years’ experience in primary and secondary education. Edulife currently operates three (soon to be four) schools in Bloemfontein
and focuses on providing accessible and affordable quality education and future-proof skills to learners.

Engelbrecht’s dream was to build a school from the ground up with a solid foundation, and he did exactly that. He was present to see every brick laid, and he still continues to be involved with every phase of development. The school opened in 2016 with one classroom, three students and two teachers.
Year after year, the school continues to grow and presently, we have enrolled 240 children.

A passionate principal and a vibrant community

I am 32 years old and this is my eighth year of teaching. I was very fortunate to have started my career at the Academy of Excellence, while I was still studying for my Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in 2012. My love for the children, the school and teaching grew stronger every day. I went from being a subject head to being a grade head, and eventually I became the head of department of the Foundation Phase. When the principal position became available at Vista Junior Academy, I jumped at the opportunity. In January 2018, I was blessed with the chance to be the acting principal for a year, to prove myself and my ability to succeed. I started 2019 as the official principal of an amazing school. I have learned more in these past two years than I ever thought was possible, and words cannot express the gratitude that I have for this lifechanging opportunity that our Heavenly Father has given me.

Vista Junior Academy is situated in a vibrant community that is rich with potential. Many young families reside here, and it is a safe and beautiful environment for children to grow up in. Parents in the community value the importance of good education, and the children are taught good values at home and the importance of hard work to achieve excellence.

We work closely with the other schools in the Edulife Group. Being a young principal who runs a fairly new school, I understand and value the importance of a support system. As Vista Junior Academy grows, we aim to build strong sporting teams that can compete with the surrounding schools on the sports field.

Leading by example

We have a diverse student and teacher profile. Our youngest learner is 18 months old, and we opened our very first Grade 7 class this year. The majority of our learners are locally born and bred, but we also have learners from Dubai and England. Our youngest staff member is our school secretary, Pulane Maliboho, who is 20 years old. One of our oldest staff members is Lydia Molieleng, who is 59 years old. She has 19 years’ teaching experience and is currently teaching our toddler class.

At Vista Junior Academy, we believe in leading by example. Our goal is to provide learners with a safe environment away from home, with teachers who take the role of parents at school. We understand that children are more likely to succeed if they are taught in an environment where they feel safe and have role models to look up to and to go to for advice. We discipline with rewards, reversing the process of punishment, and implement a system where learners strive to do better to do their parents, teachers and fellow students proud. We also understand that every learner is a unique individual and that behaviour is a direct reflection of the emotions they have accumulated in their social lives. We strive to get to know all our learners personally, and take the child’s circumstances into
consideration when dealing with discipline.

Getting to know you

We make it our priority to get to know each learner’s unique personality and living conditions. Our school is a safe place for learners, where they receive more than just an education. Our learners are loved and cared for by their teachers and peers. At Vista Junior Academy, we understand that the road to success requires more than education alone. We embrace and value the process of laying a foundation from which successful education
can be built. In preparing this foundation, we acknowledge that before a child can be effectively educated, certain basic needs need to be met. These include respect, a sense of belonging, love, recognition, friendship and security, to name but a few. Children are our future and we need to do everything in our ability to give them the best chance for success.

Appointing the perfect teacher for each class is always a challenge. We do not just appoint teachers based on their experience and qualifications. We also search for a teachers who have a true passion for education and children. This means that we go through vigorous sorting processes to find the perfect candidate for the position.

We are currently involved in the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training (Umalusi) process. (Umalusi accredits private providers of education and training as well as private assessment bodies.2) This is definitely a challenge for us, but hard work pays off and
any dream that is achieved without difficulty is a dream that needs to be revised.

Educating learners in a language that is not their home language is also a challenge that we have at our school. We overcome this challenge by putting in the extra effort and making learning fun. When you get learners interested in learning and eager to achieve, then there is no limit to what can be accomplished.

Steady growth on the cards

Our aim is to steadily grow the school until we have two classes per grade and only the best teachers in each of these classrooms. We want to maintain the excellent discipline that we currently have. We will continue to build on the importance of the preparation for successful education. We also want to coach strong competitive sports teams. We would like to be well known for having excellent educators.

We strive to achieve excellence at Vista Junior Academy, and we know it is essential to use all the resources that are available to us. Joining ISASA was a big stepping stone to our school’s future of excellence.

Being independent means having the freedom to express ourselves and our beliefs. It also allows us to imagine greatness without boundaries.

Vista Junior Academy is a Christian school, and we provide our learners a safe place to express and grow their Christianity. Learners are taught the importance of having a living relationship with God, and each teacher does Bible study with their class every morning.

When we imagine greatness, we take a look into the future and imagine what we would like to achieve. Achieving greatness requires us doing more than just the necessary. We are able to adjust our curriculum to teach our learners more than just the basic requirements.

References:

See: https://www.sanari.co.za/portfolio/

See: https://www.umalusi.org.za/services/accreditation/

Category: Summer 2019

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