When Alastair Adams took over the reins as the new principal at Constantia Primary School, he said his aim was to make a difference – with the support of the community.
Mr Adams kick-started the year burning the midnight oil during the holiday by creating rosters and plans which are now being implemented.
The former Cape Academy of Maths, Science and Techology teacher took over from Daniel “Dot” Borman this year. His speciality is mathematics and he believes this – and his focus on excellence – is why he is at Constantia Primary.
His passion for teaching stems from childhood. He grew up in Worcester and his father, Stephen Adams was a school principal.
He started out studying dentistry but soon realised he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. Mr Adams said his father taught his three children good values and to never give up.
In 1994 he completed his teaching qualification with a B.Sc(Ed) degree at UWC. This was followed by 15 years of hands on teaching at Buck Road Primary in Lotus River before becoming head of department at Caradale Primary in Rocklands in Mitchell’s Plain. He furthered his studies in 2011 with a B.Ed (Honours) degree in Mathematics and Education management. He then spent three years teaching in the United Emirates where he learnt different teaching methodology, especially interactive instruction with technology and smart boards.
On that topic, he said one of the challenges at Constantia Primary was their under-resourced IT lab. They are still using Pentium 4 computers and although they received a donation of 24 tablets and interactive ports in four classrooms, there is no internet and wi-fi coverage.
Mr Adams believes in a balance between pupils learning online and in the classroom.
Although the classes are small, with 30 to each class, another challenge is language.
While teaching is conducted in English, most children speak Afrikaans and Xhosa at home.
Mr Adams said he had inherited excellent teachers and staff and had much support from the community and local businesses.
They recently received a donation of paint and labour and the school will be painted during the March holiday.
Mr Adams believes in a holistic approach to teaching. “Having the parents involved and on board is important. And the teachers need to be open to new ideas, even those of our pupils. We can learn from them, adapt to other ways,” he said.
Mr Adams glowed with pride at the progress he had made at
Cape Academy. Although both schools are located in Constantia, pupils come from poorer areas like Lavender Hill, Philippi and Khayelitsha.
He said almost all children at Constantia Primary receive meals from the Peninsula School Feeding Association and donations from neighbouring supermarkets.
Mr Adams also believes in sport, saying soccer, netball, cricket, chess and cross country were available at the school.
They are starting small and later this month will be holding an inter-house challenge and next month they play against Ottery Road Methodist and Douglas Road primary schools. The goal is to enroll children who excel in various sports into provincial sporting events next year.
Mr Adams continues to teach each day. “It keeps me going and in touch with what is happening. Children fear maths. Nothing comes without hard work and we need to teach values and lead by example. The teacher sets the tone.
“Pupils can see when a teacher is not prepared for a class. They remember these things for years,” said Mr Adams.