Every once in a while, someone special comes along and changes the way things are done.
He ups his game, and becomes a pillar of strength for those around him, and he motivates those he works with, both young and old, to be the best in what they do.
This natural born leader is none other than Drakensberg Primary School’s principal, Pieter Hanekom, who has dedicated the past four years of his life to bettering the school as much as he can.
In an exclusive interview with the Newcastle Advertiser, Hanekom talks about his life’s journey as an educator.
Where were you born and where did you grow up: I was born and raised in Pietermaritzburg, and I eventually matriculated at Greytown High School.
What are your hobbies when you’re not at school: I enjoy reading biographies, watching sport and hiking. I love nature and I enjoy DIY projects as well.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself: I am 54 years old. I am a keen student, and I am very driven. Loyalty is important to me and I have a passion for life, therefore I make every moment count.
Are you married? If so who is your spouse, and what does she do for a living: Yes, I am married, and my wife Elizabeth is also an educator.
How many children do you have and what do they do for a living: I have two children, Linique, my daughter, is currently studying at NWU Institute of Psychology and Wellbeing, speech to become a Language Therapist. Then there is Zane, my son, who is also studying at NWU , for his B Com in Industrial Psychology and Labour relations Management.
How long have you been at the school: I began my journey at Drakensberg Primary School on April 14, 2014.
What about being a headmaster and an educator do you enjoy the most: Every day is a challenge, but having a positive input in children’s lives keep me humble and it is greatly satisfying.
Have you always had a passion for this sort of job: Yes, I believe if you have passion for what you do, you can overcome any hurdle.
How do you think you have contributed towards the school: I know Drakensberg is back on the map for sure! Our three pillars, academics, sport and culture has improved dramatically. I’m sure the community will also agree that the outside of the school has received a total face lift. We want to establish traditions, as the children know that we all care for them, from the grounds keeper to the principal. The children are happy, I and always have an open door policy. I believe in ‘what is good for the goose, is good for the gander, and I lead by example.
Would you say the learners look up to you: Yes, I do as I believe mutual respect forms the basis. High 5’s are greatly appreciated and bragging about their work is the order of the day.
What are your plans for the future; let’s say after retirement for example:
I told the staff if the first teams hockey, rugby, netball or cricket are unbeaten then I will retire, and this year our hockey teams were unbeaten, haha. But my vision is not totally completed, and I am still young and full of ideas for the school. But when I retire, I’d like to retire at the sea.
What advice do you have for fellow teachers; who often feel unappreciated in the industry: Never underestimate the power you have to shape and to mold our future leaders. Keep your eyes on the prize, because you have the gift to work with the most precious procession of other fellow citizens.
Lastly, what advice do you have for this year’s grade 12’s who are getting ready to take on the ‘big world’ soon: Spread your wings, be yourself and conquer your world.