Welcome Primary School has said goodbye to their principal of 23 years as, Christopher Jacobs, retires to spend more time with his family.
Mr Jacobs, 64, from Lotus River, started teaching in 1979 at Morgenson Primary School in Athlone as an English and art teacher.
Soon after, he became the head of department and later the deputy principal and then acting principal. He left the school in 1997 and in 1998 he was appointed as principal of Welcome Primary School in Heideveld.
When he arrived at the school, there were many things he wished to change to make it more comfortable for the pupils and staff.
One of his priorities was to apply to the Western Cape Education Department to have toilets built inside the school for pupils as the existing toilets were outside, far from the school building. For their safety, the toilets were built inside.
The school was originally built in 1946 which meant that the offices were quite small, so Mr Jacobs applied for the principal and secretary’s office to be made bigger for administration purposes.
He joined Partners For Possibility- a non profit organisation which helps principals to make positive changes at their schools. Together with his business partner, Tahier Hassen, they discussed an upgrade of the school kitchen to be made bigger so that pupils could eat in the kitchen as the school had a daily feeding scheme. The school also partnered with Woolworths to create a vegetable garden.
Mr Jacobs said his passion for the field began at a young age as there were many teachers in his family.
Mr Jacobs said that back then pupils were respectable, hard working, parents had a good relationship with the school, and always supported school fund-raisers.
He said that it was a time where parents – both mom and dad – were concerned about their children’s academics and were actively involved. He said that the community supported the school really well and the same ethos is still applied today.
“Over the last 23 years the staff were extremely supportive. They always went the extra mile for the children. When the pandemic came it exhausted the staff – they felt as if they were working two jobs – both in and out of the classroom.
“They however managed to push through and were concerned about the pupils too. Many times they would phone the parents to hear where the children are because they had to come to school to learn.”
Mr Jacobs said the school always had financial challenges and had to do lots of fundraising to cover the costs of resources. Many staff, he said, improvised by using their own money.
In 2017 the school was awarded the overall improvement in academic performance in Grades 3 and 6.
Mr Jacobs said he feels it is time to hang up his boots and say goodbye. He said that he feels nostalgic about his retirement as teaching will always be part of his life as he thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I love working with people, to see them grow and become something in life is a great achievement. When I see the pupils as adults later in life prospering I feel so proud and honoured,” he said.
He said he wants to thank the community and school for their continuous support over the years.
“I want to thank the circuit manager, Desiré Christians, for her support over the years. I want to tell the school to keep on growing and achieving. I wish the staff well for all the years that lay ahead. The community must keep on supporting the staff and school as a whole so that it can keep on growing and developing,” he said.
Mr Jacobs said that he will miss the school and all the pupils.
“I will still pop in as the passion is still there. I have no big retirement plans, just to relax and enjoy some family time,” he said.
Grade 3 teacher, Joan Reddy, said she will miss Mr Jacobs for his calm, helpful nature.
She described him as a leader that can move forward and keep calm in any situation.
She said Mr Jacobs always celebrated the staff which brought them together. He made the best of any situation and lead the school to success. She said she encourages Mr Jacobs to go back to his love for music, to not give up on his teaching passion, and bring music back to the school again.
“I met him in 2006 when I started here. He is a calm person, a gentleman, always tried to keep things under control in a fair manner. He was always interested in our personal lives, my children love him to bits. He saved the staff from so many things and protected us over the years. His calmness brought stability to the school and he always encouraged our plans to better the school. I will miss him dearly,” she said.
Derek Martin, a Grade 6 teacher, started at Welcome Primary School at the same time as Mr Jacobs. He described Mr Jacobs as a compassionate leader, stern but decent and very helpful.
“He always tried to protect people and he always believed and trusted in people to make themselves better. He always motivated people to do better. There hasn’t been one disciplinary hearing because he believed in solving issues here, he got things done here. I want to wish him well and to his family too, and thank them for going through the sacrifice with him. Go into new ventures but rest well.”