“Teamwork makes the dream work”. This iconic phrase was coined by author John C. Maxwell. He believed that team success is assured when it is built on the grounds of solidarity, respect, communication and mutual understanding.
And as Ivy Aphane, principal of Matseke Primary School in Atteridgeville, Tshwane recently discovered, building strong, cohesive school teams on these qualities is needed to successfully educate our youth. When school teams are aligned and motivated, and school principals are self-aware, confident and collaborative, schools become environments where quality teaching and learning can take place.
Aphane’s route to this discovery began when she was paired with Gaongalelwe Dire, a Finance Manager at Bestmed Medical Scheme, on Citizen Leader Lab’s (formerly Symphonia for South Africa) school leadership programme. The programme pairs school principals with business leaders in a 12-month leadership programme. Through these partnerships, principals gain the skills needed to confidently lead change in their schools, while business leaders hone their own leadership skills within a complex and challenging school environment.
Atteridgeville, the culturally vibrant township in which Matseke Primary is located, has its fair share of social challenges. The people of Atteridgeville contend with abject poverty, pervasive violence, substance abuse and frequent xenophobia.
Amid these social issues, Principal Aphane embarked on the school leadership programme with her sights set on charting a clear path for Matseke Primary. She wanted to ingrain a culture that lent itself to a more motivated staff, and leverage the power of sponsorship, effective problem solving and collaboration for the benefit of her school.
Aphane says that she is particularly proud of the outcomes of the team building session that has rectified what she described as a “lack of teamwork amongst the staff members.” Organised and facilitated by Bestmed, this session focused on conveying the importance of trust and relationship building. The principal mentions that since the session took place, she has noticed a significant increase in morale, productivity and co-operation among the staff.
‘’Thanks to Bestmed’s help, I see the staff embracing our school’s motto of ‘Unity is Strength’ and working together to achieve our common goals. Their participation in extra and co-curricular school activities has improved.
Throughout the programme, Gaongalelwe has been my guide on how to do this. She has helped me to understand what it means to work interdependently,’’ says Aphane.
While the school’s staff worked on becoming more cohesive, Aphane worked on honing her own leadership skills. The principal says that attending Citizen Leader Lab’s formal workshops has equipped her with valuable problem-solving skills, which enabled her to think creatively and find innovative solutions to the challenges at her school. No longer content with being a passive observer, Aphane now actively seeks resolutions to these challenges.
“I am now able to think outside the box and whenever we are facing a challenge. I am able to come up with solutions instead of doing nothing, ‘’ says Aphane.
This approach is bearing fruit: Matseke Primary now boasts two flourishing food gardens, thanks to sponsorships secured by Aphane.
When many of Matseke’s Primary’s learners were affected by the recent floods in Atteridgeville, Aphane once again sprang into action. Knowing that the affected learners had lost their school uniforms in the floods, she reached out to the school’s alumni by writing a heartfelt letter asking for help. The response was overwhelming.
‘’I wasn’t content with the situation. I decided to do something about it,” recalls Aphane.
‘’We received a such a positive response with our alumni providing 5000 school uniforms. Four of the students were given new school uniforms. The school also received 50 pairs of school shoes. I credit this success to the skills and knowledge I learnt on the programme,’’ says Aphane.
Business Leaders in Tshwane: It’s your turn to experience the power of leadership and collaboration!
This July, join Citizen Leader Lab’s school leadership programme in Tshwane and be part of transforming education – and transforming your own leadership ability. Team up with a school principal and make a lasting impact in a community.
Email Altie@Citizenleaderlab.org to register your interest today.