Koelfontein Primary is a small, rural school situated on the Koelfontein estate in Prince Alfred Hamlet, Western Cape. The estate is far from major cities and towns and is hence self-supporting for basic goods and services.
From within this challenging context, Koelfontein Primary’s principal Theodore de Plessis is working to create the leaders of the future.
In February 2023, he took eight prefects on a leadership excursion to the Tweede Tol campsite in the Bainskloof Pass. The day’s workshops were designed to raise awareness of the importance of good leadership and to empower the learners with leadership skills.
du Plessis is a participant on Citizen Leader Lab’s flagship leadership development programme, Partners for Possibility. The award-winning 12-month programme pairs principals from schools in under-resourced communities with business leaders from the corporate sector. Principals receive the support and skills to lead change and mobilise communities around their schools, and business leaders develop new leadership skills through exposure to the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world of the South African public school. He is partnered with Mareé Lambrechts, the HR Manager of Koelfontein Estate.
According to Jessica Batts, the Learning Process Facilitator* who oversees this partnership, du Plessis’ vision for the learners’ leadership workshop was a visionary one.
“Theodore has honed his leadership skills through the Partners for Possibility programme, and he wanted to extend that exposure to the 2023 cohort of prefects at Koelfontein. He also wanted the learners to have fun and unwind, while learning about preserving the environment,” says Batts.
The main sponsor for the day was the Weskaap Natuurbewaring (Western Cape Nature Reserve). Fruit for the learners was provided by the Spar supermarket in Prince Alfred Hamlet, while the transport costs were covered by Koelfontein Estate. Refreshments were supplied by one of the school’s teachers, making it a true community effort.
“At the end of the workshop, the learners received a certificate of completion. Each learner was also asked to collect a stone from the camp on which they inscribed a key learning they gained from the workshop,” says Batts.She went on to explain that du Plessis’s motivation for joining the programme was to better his school’s relationship with the farming community.
“Theodore is working hard to market his school to the immediate community because he believes Koelfontein Primary is indeed at the centre of this community. He wants to plough back into the development of the community’s youth, our future leaders,” Batts explains.
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*An accredited coach who facilitates and guides partnerships on the Partners for Possibility programme