From Cambodia to Greytown… Wembley to welcome Mr Swart

Appointed Head of Junior Northfield Manor Boarding Establishment

Andre Swart has been appointed Head of Junior Northfield Manor Boarding Establishment at Wembley College for 2020. Looking forward to his arrival, the school in Greytown caught up with Andre and asked him a few questions about his experiences, his views on life and education.

Andre matriculated at Maritzburg College in 2002. Like many youngsters who have just finished matric, he wasn’t immediately sure what he wanted to do with his life and ended up working in hotel management for a number of years.

After realising that this was not the career path for him, he decided to travel and see the world. His travels took him to some interesting places, including the South East Asia country, Cambodia.

The Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh. Picture: Wikimedia/Lor Teng Huy

Once he arrived in the capital city of Phnom Penh, he decided to teach English. He was assigned a classroom full of children aged between 2 and 3 years old, who did not speak English, and yet he said, for the first time in his life he knew that this was where he was meant to be.

Andre stayed at the same school and taught various grades, focusing mostly on English language skills. He was promoted to head teacher of the English department and shortly afterwards became academic director, in charge of developing curriculum.

This was all before he had done any formal training in education!

Move back home

After five years, he made the tough choice to move back home to South Africa to study towards his Bachelor of Education degree. During this time, he was able to continue working in a school environment at Clifton Prep in Nottingham Road, where he worked as assistant housemaster of the boarding establishment, teaching a variety of subjects and coaching sport, while also being involved in the school band.

Andre’s personal strength is getting things done. He says things that need tackling may seem obvious, but often things are left for tomorrow, with negative consequences. His view on leadership is that he believes no leader is an island. In order to lead, you need to understand those who follow you and empathise with them.

“Ten people walking together up a mountain is always better than one leader trying to drag nine people to the top.” Picture: Garth Johnstone

“Ten people walking together up a mountain is always better than one leader trying to drag nine people to the top.”

He enjoys all forms of expression and thinks we are privileged to live in a world and a time where we are allowed to freely express ourselves in whatever manner we choose – and with this great power (to paraphrase Voltaire and Uncle Ben from Spiderman) comes great responsibility. We must use our voice and our expression to leave the world a little better than we found it.

Where creativity and individualism thrive

Andre recently did a poetry lesson in which he filled 20 small tubs with different flavours, from lemon juice and vinegar to Bovril and popcorn spice, to chocolate sauce and syrup. Each child had to close their eyes and randomly pick a flavour and then write down eight adjectives to describe their flavour. They used various poetic devices to turn their experiences into poems.

Wembley College is looking forward to Mr Swart’s arrival in 2020 – and is sure he will continue to inspire, nurture and educate his pupils.

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