Caretaker school principal wears many hats

2012-04-18 11:26

My search for a school to host a corporate social investment programme took me to the new township of Glenridge near Soweto yesterday. This is a greenfields housing/township development in an area previously called Protea Glen Extension 16. Many houses are still being painted, and newly planted trees give promise to what is a dusty new development.

I was there to track down Linda Khanyi, the principal of Itemogele Primary in Soweto who has been seconded by the Department of Education to start up Glenridge Primary School - a brand new school to service a brand new community.

This shows the great expectations that we place on school principals who are already delivering. In this role, she is expected to much more than a principal. "This is the first time I have had to start a new school," she tells me. "I have always arrived in a position to find a school standing." Her school was running from empty classes at a nearby high school, and they moved into their own container premises only last week.

She has had to become a construction site manager - managing a core contractor who is slow to attend to her snag list. She has been an HR professional - sourcing, training and employing a team of teachers from scratch. She has been a recruitment proffessional - recruiting learners from the community to fill the school. She has put in place the curriculum and programmes to be followed.

Her biggest challenge has been electricity. The electricity account of the previous owner of the property was in arrears, and until this is sorted out, her school is off the grid. It seems that even if you are within Government, and even if you are housing primary school children at the beginning of winter, it is close to impossible to resolve electricity billing and supply problems with the City of Johannesburg.

The head of the Johannesburg Central district of the Department of Education arrived last week on their first day to find teachers and learners in the classrooms and teaching taking place. I congratulated Linda on a job well done. She reflected for a moment before answering, "thank you - perhaps congratulations are in order."

Linda's job as caretaker principal is to get the school up and running. She should be returing to her post as principal of Itemogele later in the year. The role of the new principal of Glenrdige will be to consolidate what Linda has done and to build a school community that delivers results.

www.socialinnovations.co.za

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