Principal looking forward to retirement

After more than 40 years in teaching, Imtiaz Adams, principal of Surrey Primary School, retires.

After more than 40 years in teaching, Surrey Primary School principal Imtiaz Adams is ready to put down the chalk and spend some relaxing time with his family.

The 63-year-old from Surrey Estate has led the school for 24 years.

His teaching career started in 1979 when he became the biology teacher at his alma mater, Trafalgar High School, where he taught for 12 years until he was promoted to head of department at Groenvlei High School, where he stayed for six years.

He took over as Surrey Primary’s principal in 1997. He comes from a long line of teachers, and his two sons are also in the profession.

Two years after taking the helm at Surrey Primary, the Manenberg tornado hit, on August 29, 1999, and damaged 70% of the school.

It was closed for two weeks; parents threatened to enrol their children elsewhere; and the Western Cape Education Department wanted to close the school and rebuild it somewhere else.

“But I fought for the existence of the school, and we opened again on September 14, 1999,” Mr Adams said.

“We received 21 containers, which we joined and used as seven classrooms, and slowly but surely parts of our school have been rebuilt. It is still being worked on.

“Luckily most of the parents brought their children back to our school when we opened, and we have been striving ever since as one of the best performing schools in the area.”

Mr Adams received a provincial “Excellence in Primary School Leadership” award in 2011 and came second in the country at the national awards.

In 2008, the British Council invited him to England, where he spoke at the Prince Rock Primary School about leadership.

In 2010, he was one of 20 principals who visited India to learn how poorly resourced schools can produce top results in maths and science.

Mr Adams said the school had built good relationships with its neighbours, school governing bodies, parents and ex teachers and pupils over the years.

His passion for teaching had kept him in the profession for all this time, he said, adding that he would dearly miss the classroom, staff and pupils.

School was a safety net for many pupils, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, he said.

“It is time for me to step down and relax and spend time with my family. I have taught my staff well, and I am confident that they will take the school to new heights. I have always been a strict principal.

“I believe in punctuality, and respect. I have always had an open-door policy, and I believe in time management, planning, and dress code.”

Grade 4 teacher Abdullah Salie said the school and the teaching profession were losing a gem. He described Mr Adams as a hard worker, a strong person, and a great teacher and mentor.

“He just has an aura that makes people feel safe and comfortable. He has always had an open-door policy; he is an open book. I have learnt so much from him over the years. He has been a great mentor. I look up to him and I respect him.”