New SP principal preserves school’s traditions

Zeid Baker is the new principal of South Peninsula High School.

After serving as acting principal for two years, Grassy Park resident Zeid Baker has officially been appointed principal of South Peninsula High (SP) School, in Diep River.

Mr Baker’s history with SP goes way back when he was a pupil from 1978 to 1982.

His late father, Imam Ameen Baker of Simon’s Town, chose SP while he reared him in the direction of education as a career.

Mr Baker recalled that the ethos of SP was to instil values and discipline was the key issue in a child’s life. The “holistic approach” was inculcated by principal Mogamat Noor Moerat and excellent teachers at the time, such as Fred Coker, Cliffy Raymonds, Daphne Wessels and Brian Isaacs who taught Mr Baker the art and the motto of the school “To let us live for our children.”

He said these teachers “helped shape our character and whatever we were taught by them, we could pass on to our children”.

In his private life, Mr Baker said his wife, Surayah, a former teacher from Sibelius High School, in Steenberg, was also a disciplinarian. They both implemented the rules in raising their two children Mogamad Zahir, an engineer, and Aneeqah, a teacher.

Mr Baker said he was born in Simon’s Town, then moved to Wynberg and then Grassy Park.

He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Education at the University of Cape Town, in the 1980s and lived the motto “of liberation through education” during the uprising against apartheid.

He started at SP in 1988 and he has been teaching there for 30 years.

Mr Baker said the teachers who taught him at SP became his mentors. “They would harp on about discipline and I advise other teachers to allow themselves to be mentored.”

Although the new generation of teachers have been influenced by technology, some of the older generation still use the “old tried and tested methods that never fail”, said Mr Baker.

He said one of his teachers, Paul Slater, does not teach from the text-
books. “He reads the content and creates a mind map, and the child sees the mind map of the content and through that he gets excellent results. If it does not benefit the child, discard it.”

Those were the qualities Mr Isaacs worked towards: the holistic development of the child.

“He built the foundation or put building blocks in place and my vision for the school is to keep those traditions at SP.”

He said when he attended a 40th reunion of the class of 1978, pupils asked him if the traditional inter-house was still alive, and it is. “We have kept the SP brand for example the athletic inter-house was kept for 60-odd years,” he said.

Over the years the school broadened its curriculum. “We have a very strong arts and science department and we are always looking at implementing new subjects. For example EGD (Engineering Graphics and Design), AP (Advanced Programme) Maths.

SP is geared towards the pupils’ future career choices. “We make sure we forge links with tertiary education institutes to find out how our former kids are doing and also to ask if they can assist our pupils in programmes. We encourage physics and chemistry students from Stellenbosch or UCT to assist our kids.”

He said the school is not just sending their children to art schools such as Peter Clarke or Battswood Art School, but finding out how pupils are doing there.

“We always send one of our teachers with them, to monitor their progress,” he said.

Due to SP’s curriculum not being static, he said it allows them to add more subjects and it is constantly changing.

“However, we get results as well. We discovered we are in the top four in the province as an Agri science school.

“We added coding, marine sciences because some pupils are interested in becoming systems analysts and marine biologists.”

He encouraged children to be part of transformation.

“We need to raise our children to be aware of what is happening, politically in our country. For example if you want to become an engineer you start at level one but you understand the dynamics of the environment of what’s happening in the country so that you will be able to engage and interact with your superiors in order to know where they need to go to.”

SP is 68 years old and Mr Baker said the school must have made a mark on many former pupils because they have 17 former pupils who are currently teaching at the school.

Mr Baker said he values his staff and their contribution to the school. He also believes in hard work. “I start working from January to December.”

Although Mr Baker seems like a workhorse, he said his wife will make sure they take a well-deserved break at the end of the year.