Leading teachers and learners into the world of global citizenry has earned Wendy Horn, principal of Protea Heights Academy (PHA), the award for being the best high school principal in the country for 2020.
The prestigious prize for Excellence in Secondary Leadership was handed over to her at the 20th Annual National Teaching Awards hosted in Pretoria by the national minister of basic education, a fortnight ago.
After being nominated by learners of PHA, Horn had to undergo a series of tough interviews by panels of experts to go through to the district, provincial and finally the national round of the competition.
“It was a rigorous process where my knowledge in aspects such as management, innovation and social justice were scrutinised. In addition, I had to present the panel with several presentations,” she said in an interview with the newspaper.
Horn said this win had taken her by complete surprise.
“PHA is still a very young school and with only five years’ experience as a secondary school principal, I did not expect to win,” she said.
As a physical science teacher with 30 years under the belt, Horn became principal of PHA, a math and science focussed school when it opened its doors in Brackenfell in 2015.
Before that she was physical science teacher at The Settlers High School in Bellville for 25 years.
In 2014 she also won the award for Best Physical Science Teacher in South Africa.
“Winning this award was a humbling experience and recognition of a lifetime. It is a reflection of the excellence of the teachers at PHA. You can’t win an award for effective leadership without an effective team.”
Horn’s vision as principal is cemented in her vision to lead PHA to the cutting edge of the fourth industrial revolution.
The school is a front runner in Stem education, a curriculum based on the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an applied approach.
“Innovation is key, and we work very hard to prepare our learners for future societies where technology leads the way. If you can’t compete globally, you will not survive. Technology has made the world a smaller place, and we have to become global citizens, where we understand and embrace different cultures, ethnicity and religions. As an educator I want to broaden the horizons of my learners.”
Horn presents regular science conferences via Skype to schools in other African counties, and learners follow suit with projects where they engage via internet with learners at schools on other continents.
“As a principal I look to the future, as a school we look to the future. South Africa is currently not producing enough graduates to fill the requirement of math and science-based careers. Going forward, this is a big challenge for us as a school,” she said.
Ward councillor for Protea Heights, Marian Nieuwoudt, said she is immensely proud of Horn’s achievement.
“Her innovative way of managing the school illustrates her own passion and talent to prepare her learners for the future. We are grateful to have her as part of our community,” Nieuwoudt said.
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