I was attracted to the school because it educates girls. Although I have never worked in a singlegender school, I do a lot of work with women all over the continent. Roedean is an innovative hub, a school that is leading in what is happening in the rest of the world. When I found out that the young women who graduate from the school are accepted into top universities all over the world, I thought, ‘I want to contribute to that’. The school’s bursary programme is very dear to me because of its social development impact. I have heard what the Roedean Academy does together with the students from Barnato Park and I am humbled. It has been a very emotional journey for me in a positive way.
I have been on a journey to come back to Africa. I have been away for almost 20 years, working in different countries contributing to education in the international, global space. I have always felt this desire to share my experiences back home. About five years ago, I declared that I was going back home, and I woke up and found myself in New York City. Those close and dear to me said, ‘what a strange way and journey you are taking to return home’. I maintain that everywhere I go, I believe there is a reason. My reason in retrospect, has been to experience different things so that when I do make the move back home, I am coming to share all these different experiences. I am coming home to contribute; I am coming home to have impact, and Roedean is the means.
I have a small circle of mentors that I met and mentors that I have worked for. They all have different roles in my life, and they are always part of the circle that I talk to when I am making a major change. I think individuals bring a bit of everything. When I look at my social aspirations, I think of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who did a lot of great things in this world, who also taught me as a child and whose children went to Waterford. Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States is all about empowering women, which I find inspiring. I think we are at a place where if we do not hold each other up and stand as good examples to the girls coming behind us, then we are not doing our job as leaders.
I was speaking to peers about how there has been so much focus on STEM in the past ten years that sometimes I felt that humanities were put aside. I said, ‘as I go into my new school, I would like to uplift humanities too because not everyone wants to be involved in STEM; we also have other subjects which are important’. How do we grow our flowers so that they blossom and bloom in all subjects? All students with different interests should be nurtured and supported within the school. Both STEM and humanities are very important. I am a linguist, so of course humanities had to be important but I also understand the reason to empower girls to believe that within STEM they can – and they have – the ability to succeed with support from the school. We are living in a world where we have resources to support all learners and allow girls to believe that they have choices and that they feel confident about their experience and knowledge base.
It is not so much about change per se, but rather how to continue in the same vein whilst considering the developments in global and local education, and the response to virtual and blended learning and positive and relevant transformation thanks to what has happened in the past 13 months with Covid-19 and BLM. I do believe in thinking forward and using the past and heritage, traditions and values to shape the future for our girls so that they are real-life ready. Wellness, soft skills, and dispositions continue to be of utmost importance because if we do not take care of these as a school, academics mean nothing. It is the holistic individual development of each girl that will be the picture of our success as will our continued partnerships with all our stakeholders. My theoretical understanding of the school and aspirations, together with real data and most importantly, when I am on the ground and have a better understanding of my future school, after group sessions with all stakeholders and time spent with the girls across the whole school, will enable me to make meaningful input in shaping the future.
Another reason why I was attracted to Roedean is because of its diversity and inclusion. I have been told that Roedean is the space where all students are comfortable as individuals no matter their faith, no matter their culture. I look forward to experiencing that, and if I can share anything to move it forward, I plan to. I am big on diversity, equity and inclusion. All of these are pieces that bring together something dynamic. We must talk; we must be comfortable to talk openly even if the topics are uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable sometimes is called learning.
I always have about ten books going at the same time for different things. I recently came across a Zimbabwean woman, Elizabeth Nyamayaro, whose book is called I am an African Girl, which talks about a girl who is a woman now who has gone through the same kind of journey as I have. It tells of all the experiences she has had in the spaces where she is a minority. The book echoed a lot with who I am and what I have gone through. I read a lot of leadership books which are important, and I read my Bible. I love to cook, so I have lots of cookbooks and the other books depend on what I need to be dealing with. I have been reading articles on Future Schools: what they may look like and how they will shape thinking. It is a fascinating discussion to have, and it is so relevant after Covid.
Simply put, I plan to uphold the values of this esteemed school and together with the community, take it to the next level of excellence.
On behalf of the Board, I would like to use this opportunity to thank all our staff, parents, pupils, SAORA as well as new prospective parents who have reached out positively since the announcement went out on the 30th of April. Roedean is a place where everyone belongs and is welcome. Together we can continue to shape a life of significance for each and every girl.
Chairperson of the Roedean Board
On behalf of the board, I am delighted to announce that following a comprehensive process, Mrs. Proserpina Dhlamini-Fisher has been appointed as the new Executive Head of Roedean from 1 January 2022....
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