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School loses a ‘family member’

She was part of the Kuils River Primary School family for 25 years. Sadly Zondelia Lombard-Swartz (47), who became principal in January 2017, passed away due to cancer on Sunday 8 September.

Zonnie as she was affectionately known, is survived by her husband Anthony Swartz and their daughter, Zune (16), who live in Kraaifontein.

Hildegarde McCallum, deputy principal, said Lombard-Swartz “was a dynamic, strong and visionary leader who believed in empowering others. “Her mantra was to ‘walk in faith’ and that is what she did in her life every day.”

The school’s motto is “Grow to greatness” and at the inauguration of the school’s new building in February last year, Lombard-Swartz said in a radio interview the staff focus on family and family values. “We say that we are ‘fired up’ to grow to greatness. The ‘fired up’ stands for our school’s values which are Faith, Integrity, Respect, Excellence, Diligence, Unity and Pride. And that is what we strive for every day.”

McCallum said Lombard-Swartz will be remembered for living these values she promoted and tried to instil in the learners. “She always wanted the best for her learners and staff. Her beautiful smile mirrored her warm, inviting personality.’’

In a tribute statement issued on behalf of the school’s staff, they said they will remember Lombard-Swartz as ‘‘a wonderful leader in more way than one, for her sense of humor, compassion, motivation, support, kindness and the vision she had for our school and the broader community.

‘‘She was indeed a true inspiration to us all and taught us to cherish every moment and to live life to the fullest.’’

Lombard-Swartz started as a teacher at Kuils River Primary in January 1994. She became head of department in 2008 and deputy principal in April 2013.

In January 2017 she became the second female principal at the school since its inception in 1908, on which TygerBurger reported (“Kuils River welcomes principal,” 11/01/2017).

At the time, then chairperson of the school governing body, Joseph Jacobs, said they were looking for someone who not only had the ability to be the principal, but who has performed well over the years. “Her contribution to the school has been immeasurable,” he said.

Lombard-Swartz won the award for excellence in primary school leadership at the National Teachers Awards 2016 for the Metropole North and East region and was the provincial runner-up in the category.

When she became principal she mentioned the importance of team work, and that progress stems from the hard work of the staff, as well as the support of the parents.

“One needs the support of a family and we always refer to our school community as the Kuils River Primary School family,” she said. She also said she wanted to try and make learners focus on the blessings they have and not on what they don’t have.

Lombard-Swartz was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. She resumed her duties at the school after 10 months of treatment and recovery. McCullum said she was rediagnosed with breast cancer at the end of 2017.

Messages of condolences streamed in on the school’s Facebook page. Candice Michaels wrote: “Rest well, you planted a seed in each and every one of us when we were in your class. You will be missed.”

Jakes Fredericks who met her at school and studied together, said: “I had the privilege to see her grow and develop into one of the most incredible alumni of Kasselsvlei High School and Bellville College of Education.” He said he walked the corridors of the school with her last year when he visited Cape Town. “I was inspired by her compassion, commitment and dedication for the children of her beloved Kuils River Primary community. Hamba Kahle my friend, your legacy and contribution to Kuils River Primary will live on forever.’’

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