New primary school principal ready for any challenge

Fish Hoek Primary School’s new principal Stefanie MacDonald.

The 2021 school year may have gotten off to a rocky start, but Fish Hoek Primary School’s new principal says she is ready for any challenge.

Stefanie MacDonald, 56, the school’s former vice-principal, took over from Neill Kinkead-Weekes, who retired last year after being in education for 42 years.

Ms MacDonald, the school’s first female principal, says she is looking forward to schools reopening on Monday February 15 and hopes to continue building on the excellence of what she says is an already well rounded school.

She had “huge shoes to fill” but was very excited, she said.

“I have the support of the parents and staff and will maintain the feeling of family at the school. I am so honoured to be the principal of this school.”

Ms MacDonald said she always knew she wanted to be a teacher.

“My mom was a teacher and she was an inspiration to me. I knew from a very young age that teaching was my calling as I could live out my creativity.”

She grew up in Randburg and attended Laerskool Unika and later Hoërskool Randburg.

She studied B-Primed (primary education) at Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) now the University of Johannesburg and attended Goudstad Onderwys College.

She started her teaching career at Trap der Jeugd, an underprivileged school, in Vrededorp in 1987 for four years.

Thereafter she ran a preschool from home while raising her family.

“It was a wonderful time in my life, and I really enjoyed working with the little ones,” she said.

But it was time for a new challenge and she and her family relocated to Cape Town in 1998 and she started at Fish Hoek Primary School.

“At the time, I was part of the selection panel for the deputy principal position Mr Kinkead-Weekes got,” she said.

Little did she know that she would later become deputy principal and then principal.

Her three children, Brett, Dean and Courtney MacDonald, all attended Fish Hoek Primary School.

Ms MacDonald said the Covid-19 pandemic was the biggest challenge she had faced throughout her career.

“I have never experienced something like it and hopefully never will again. It was the uncertainty and the speed at which it was all happening.”

However, she said that both she and the school had learnt a lot from it.

“We will continue to do the best we can to maintain the high standards at Fish Hoek Primary School,” she said.