Paarl principal wins award

New Orleans Secondary School principal, Andrew Groenveld, recently won an award for his efforts in implementing a successful after school programme at his school.

Andrew Groeneveld, principal of New Orleans Secondary School in Paarl, was recently awarded the Leadership Excellence Award for After School Programming at the Western Cape Education Department’s provincial ceremony of the National Teaching Awards.

The award recognises principals from no and low-fee schools who have shown exceptional leadership by making after school programmes (ASPs) an integral part of their institution’s offering. The ceremony took place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

“I’m feeling very proud of myself, my school, our teachers and our learners,” Mr Groeneveld said after receiving the award.

He says every year a theme is set to provide direction for the school. It’s launched with an annual road race, and last year the theme was “respect for life”.

Mr Groeneveld believes in crowding in resources for the
ASP, which includes 10 sporting codes, drama, music, drum majorettes, first aid, debating, a Rotary Interact Club and a Mass participation; Opportunity and access; Development and growth (MOD) Centre.

“I’m dedicated to the programme because I understand how important it is, not only to support learners in their academic life, but also their personal interactions,” he says.

“We see belonging and inclusion as the starting point for all children, and in this supportive environment, we try to teach pupils to accept individual differences and show respect for each other. It is key to a supportive learning environment.

“Teamwork is one way to grow these skills,” he says, “and offering a wide variety of ASPs that speak to the learners’ passions. Learning a skill that they excel at can be a lifeline for a child, a glimpse of their potential.”

Mr Groeneveld says he’s grown his leadership skills by attending courses at the Cape Teaching and Leadership Institute, and this has been helpful, particularly with decision-making and planning.

In recent years, the school has been a focus of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS), and a MOD Centre was placed there to support sport and culture at the school.

Reflecting on the win, Head of the DCAS, Brent Walters, said the most successful schools are those with a strong academic programme supported by a healthy ASP. “We need principals to lead from the front, to take charge of their ASP and make it an important part and parcel of the school’s ethos,” Mr Walters says.

The award, now in its fourth year, is an initiative of the after school programme office in the Western Cape Government.

It awarded a prize of R20 000, which will go towards the building the school’s sports grounds, says Mr Groeneveld.