There is a new era about to begin at Muizenberg High School, with the changing of the guards.
Leonie Jacobsen is the first woman principal in the school’s history, and while that is new, she is not.
The former head of department has spent 19 years at the school. She is now focused on the school’s future, with a clear vision of making education relevant to her pupils.
Some of her earliest memories are of her father, who would load the children of Stilbaai into his bakkie and take them on day trips to the cinema or planetarium: places beyond the confines of where they lived. He believed, Ms Jacobsen said, in making education real; in making the subject matters come alive and granting child-
ren the opportunity to experience the relevance of what they were learn-
“I remember the impact it had on those kids. If I could follow his lead, fold into his slipstream and achieve that with the children in this school, then I could retire happy, down the line,” she said.
Former principal Dave Shaw, she said, had laid a solid foundation for her to build on and she was “very grateful” to him for all he had done.
He had the vision, she said, to encourage his staff to be the best they could be, and she hopes to take that to the next level.
“My teachers come to me and say, ‘Can I take my kids on a trip to the fossils, or to an exhibition?’ And it’s not up to me: if they have the yen to do it, then they can make it happen. Of course, I want the learners to experience these things. Heck, I even want to go with on some of the trips,” she laughed. “If seeing fossils in the Karoo makes history or geography come alive, it’s not even a question of if, but how, we get our kids there.”
Youngsters from all over the province attend the school and she believes strongly in helping them develop their own personal road maps for the future.
She tells them, not everyone will go straight to university. Some will go to TVET colleges and others will take one or two subjects a year until they complete a full university course. “There are so many ways to get to your personal best. Part of that is a process of self-actualisation,” she said.
“I had a young girl share a heart-breaking story of abuse and hardship with me. She told me the story, then revealed that the girl in the story was her. And then she asked how she could help others,” Ms Jacobsen said. “Here is a girl who understood that the pain she experienced would uniquely equip her to help others. That is incredible wisdom, and heart. And that realisation changes people and communities,” Ms Jacobsen