Walvis Bay Private High principal bids farewell

Retirement beckons

15 September 2020 | People

Estelle Eigelaar, former principal, “… small problems did not become giants as they were dealt with as soon as possible.”

Walvis Bay •[email protected]

The Walvis Bay Private High School (WBPHS) bid farewell to their long-serving principal Estelle Eigelaar on 31 August 2020.

Eigelaar retired as school principal after 24 years and six months in the position.

Background

She matriculated at Grens High School, East London, in 1978. “I completed my education qualification at the University of Cape Town in 1982. My first appointment was at Walvis Bay Private High School (then known as Hoërskool Walvisbaai).”

She relocated to South America at the end of 1983 and for three years taught primary school learners of South African citizens in Caldera, Chile.

“We returned to Walvis Bay at the end of 1986, where I acted as a relief teacher at De Duine Secondary School for a trimester and then joined WBPHS once again at the end of 1987 where I stayed until August 2020.”

She became a Head of Department in 1991, and in 1996 became the principal at the age of 35. “At this stage the school went through very difficult times with a new medium of instruction and new curriculum being introduced.

Immediately after my appointment, I completed my Principals‘ Diploma in Professional leadership and throughout the years I attended principal symposiums, workshops and seminars to keep on par with the challenges of the profession.”

Highlights and challenges

Eigelaar says that being a principal in a diverse community gave her great pleasure. “To make the school a better place, to be part of appointing staff members, to help learners develop and excel was definitely some of many highlights of being principal of WBPHS.”

Challenges are part of being principal.

“The mission of the school includes upholding Christian values, creating a school spirit for the equal development of all individuals to their full potential and encouraging each learner to take responsibility for themselves, through partnerships with parents and the community. It was at times quite challenging to find a balance for myself.”

A day in the life of a principal comprises making sure school operations run smoothly.

“Planning accordingly, communicating and giving feedback, documenting and recording data, was what kept me busy on a daily basis. Being available meant that situations could be dealt with immediately and small problems did not become giants as they were dealt with as soon as possible.”

After retirement

“Being a school principal has its levels of stress, as problems, not necessarily your own, come your way every single day. In the retirement phase of my life I would like to destress, see, explore, travel and broaden my horizons,” says Eigelaar.

She adds that being a school principal requires of you to be literally on duty 24/7.

“In the little spare time left over for myself, it was of utmost importance to seek tranquillity and peace, so that when the following day and the following challenges arose, I was well rested, prepared and ready for what came next.

“The school as a professional learning centre provided a setting that is richer and more stimulating and my message to the incoming principal, teachers and the learners is to continue on this path where relationships between teachers and parents and teachers and learners are constantly improved to create a fruitful scenario for better learning and better results.”

Mother, wife, teacher

Eigelaar is happily married with two daughters and a son, all products of WBPHS and the University of Stellenbosch where they obtained degrees in Civil Engineering.

“I have six grandchildren, three boys and three girls, all under the age of six. It was my motto to arrange my personal life around my career, and not the other way round. As a result, I am now looking forward to concentrating on my personal life, take care of things that are long overdue, explore the creative side of my life and enrich my inner self.”

Eigelaar is a strong believer of empowering people to become their better self.

“People should not be driven by fear, but by pleasure. I am most grateful to the Lord for His guidance, blessings and opportunities He has given us at the school. May the school continue depending on this.”

She praised and gave gratitude to Lloyd Ulrich, Dr Louis Burger, Bertus Gous, the late Eckhart Mueller, Koos van Staden, Dr Gavin Keller, and so many others who served as mentors and role models on her path as school principal over the past 24-years.

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