NEWSLETTER 09 June 2017

Board Matters

After six years on the Board, five of them as Chairman, Richard Wadley stepped down yesterday. While we have known of his intention for the last 18 months, it was very sad to hear Richard speak his last words of advice and finally leave at the end of the meeting.

Richard is pictured speaking to the learners, parents and guests at the 2015 Prize Giving, one of his
many duties during his tenure as Board Chair.

Richard is pictured speaking to the learners, parents and guests at the 2015 Prize Giving, one of his
many duties during his tenure as Board Chair.

When Richard came onto the Board in 2012, the School was not in a good place financially. A bank loan had been taken out to pay for the girls’ boarding establishment and a “soft loan” made by previous directors to the School was mounting at prime and no attempt had been made to pay it off as there was insufficient cash in the kitty to do so. Richard was elected Chairman the following year and immediately set about paying off the “soft loan.” He and his board also decided to find the money to employ an experienced bursar to get the finances in order. A new era of fiscal discipline was instituted. As a result the learner numbers dropped from 200 in 2012 to 160 by 2014. Today, we have 150 learners, but every one of them is paying the full school fee, or someone is paying that full fee on their behalf. There is no one in the school who is being subsidised by the fees of the other parents. The soft loan was paid up in 2015. The bank loan has 3 years to go. We have sufficient cash flow to run a tight ship and the future is promising.
Richard’s experience on the board of a big mining house gave him insight into the convoluted business of corporate governance. Throughout his chairmanship, he has been insistent on keeping board business separate from operational matters. This has given the School Management the space to breathe and make the changes and adjustments necessary to bring its house into order.

In recent years the staff has stabilized and the education on offer seems to be better than ever – the results certainly seem to suggest this. Right now we are blessed with an amazing group of highly competent teachers who each carry a large load and do so with grace and aplomb. This is largely thanks to the establishment in 2015 of the HR Committee which helps in the tricky business of staff selection.
Then Board Chair, Gustav Collins initiated strategic planning session in 2011 which led to a change in direction in the sport that the School offers. The change to individual type sports has led to 10% of the learners in the Academy achieving provincial colours across three official school sports for the last three years. This year we have two learners with South African colours to boot – one in the official school sport of archery and one in karate which is no longer a school sport.

Richard was also instrumental in establishing the Waterberg Academy Education Trust. This Trust has been able to retain the academically strong learners through its scholarship programme, and also keep and attract other good learners via bursaries. Our “top” two matriculants of 2016 were each recipients of a W. A. E. T. scholarship, proof of the success of this initiative. Several applicants for places in the School this year have quoted the 2016 matric results as their motivation for seeking entry for their children. We will have excellent matric results again this year, and also into the future. Our best academics are no longer being lured away by the wealthier schools and we have been able to attract really good kids to the Academy.
Richard has not been a “do what I say,” leader. He has very much led by example. The amount of work he put in to get the Waterberg Academy Education Trust registered with CAF America so that overseas donors would get tax relief on their donations to this School by supporting the Trust is unbelievable. And this work and responsibility is on-going.

Richard and Lyn have been at pretty much every major Academy event since he joined the Board. Richard and Lyn have been special guests at all Prize Giving ceremonies, and each has even taken on the role of guest of honour when called upon.

Richard and Lyn looking smashing at the Race Night.

Richard and Lyn looking smashing at the Race Night.

Richard and Lyn Wadley have also contributed financially to the School:

  • R100 000 towards the refurbishment of the Boarding Establishment in 2013
  • R100 00 towards the building of the two new classrooms in 2014
  • scholarships for several learners over several years
  • stage curtains
  • swimming pool fence
  • school magazines
    and much more.

One of Richard and Lyn’s chief concerns has been the quality of education on offer at the Academy. He is always the first to ask for the Matric results and enquire after the tertiary studies of the learners after they leave the School. This concern motivated them to offer scholarships to keep several academically strong learners in the Academy, in the belief that this would encourage other such learners either to stay at or to join the School.

Because of their love of English, they instituted the Novella Writing Competition as a way to encourage young people to write. This competition has run in 2014 and 2016 and all the book prizes have been purchased by Lyn and Richard.

Here Lyn and Richard circulate during the Prize Winners’ Tea in the library after the 2016 Novella Writing Competition

Here Lyn and Richard circulate during the Prize Winners’ Tea in the library after the 2016 Novella Writing Competition

Perhaps my fondest (most bemused) memory of Richard is of him in full cry before an audience of learners and parents – speaking without notes and making absolute sense. He must have been a terror in the world of debating.

When a man of Richard’s stature leaves an organization, he leaves a BIG hole. This has been filled by the appointment of Pierre Leonard as Interim Chairman until the next meeting.

Outstanding Achievement

Kiandra Doubell has excelled in her gymnastics this term. In total she competed in 3 competitions and was awarded gold medals in all three competitions.

This past weekend she competed against 11 clubs in Limpopo where all the girls competed to be chosen for the Limpopo team. She was awarded a gold medal again and achieved 2nd place in her age group – and she was chosen for the Limpopo team to compete in the North Zone on 24th of June 2017!

Kiandra shows her balance on the beam.

Kiandra shows her balance on the beam.

One of the many rewards of doing well in a sport – the podium!

One of the many rewards of doing well in a sport – the podium!

We are very proud of your achievements Kiandra and will be wishing you all the best for the next competition!

Communication

Recently, a letter to our Senior Preparatory netball and soccer players’ parents was delayed until the day before the actual game. This was caused by the school we were to play being unable to confirm which teams they would be sending until the day before the fixture, in spite of repeated enquiries from Mrs Wagenhauser. We apologise for the inconvenience caused by this late confirmation, especially to our U/9 learners and parents. In the end that school simply did not have a team in that age group.

Our D6 Communicator enables us to keep parents informed and send out instant news flashes. Half way through this term, after a very delayed return home, we decided to send out an alert when the bus leaves the venue of an away game to return to the Academy. This should enable parents to
gauge their arrival back at School. This system presupposes a departure before 16h00 when the School office closes, and also that the recipients of the flash have their D6 reception set to receive all notifications.

If you are not receiving all notifications, the D6 administrators have told us it is necessary to delete the current version you have and upload the latest version.

Mark Godfrey