Principal retires after 39 years

Margo Kiewit, former principal, and Linda Fredericks, secretary, Die Duine Primary.

After teaching for nearly four decades at Die Duine Primary School, principal Margot Kiewit, 57, has officially handed over the leadership reigns but she has no intention of saying goodbye to the school just yet.

Ms Kiewit started her career as a Grade 3 teacher at Die Duine Primary school in 1978 at the age of 18 and straight out of Battswood Training College.

The Grassy Park resident has been principal at the Lotus River primary school for the past 18 years and has played a tremendous role in the school’s growth.

Coming from a family of teachers, Ms Kiewit knew from a young age that educating young people was what she wanted to do.

Now decades later and even after retiring, Ms Kiewit is still teaching at the school but now focuses pupils who have learning difficulties and those who are lagging behind.

The veteran said although she is at the school weekly, she still felt emotional on her final day.

“Being at the school for as long as I have I can truly say that I have grown with the community. The school has grown but I couldn’t have done it without the dedication of the staff. They have gone above and beyond,” said Ms Kiewit.

“When I started teaching at Die Duine there was no Phumlani Village, Jim se Bos, Egoli and other informal settlements and over the years these settlements started and with that came many challenges including extreme poverty but we overcame, with the help of parents, despite the many difficulties,” she said.

Another struggle for the former principal was illiteracy.

“I would send notes home to the parents about meetings and other information but I would never get any response until a parent told me that they were not able to read the notes because many of them were unable to read,” said Ms Kiewit.

This prompted Ms Kiewit, along with a few other teachers, to start adult literacy classes.

“We knew there was an issue with literacy and for four years myself and three other teachers dedicatedly held classes on a voluntary basis. We tackled the issue head on and today the night school classes are still available at Die Duine,” said Ms Kiewit.

She thanked the staff as well as her family for their support over the years, especially her husband, Gregory, who is a retired Zerilda Park Primary School teacher.

“I appreciate my husband and my two children for understanding that I needed to be at the school. I have two children but they understood that I had hundreds more at the school
who really needed me,” said Ms Kiewit.

She wished the school well and encouraged the teaching staff to continue their sterling work.

Linda Fredericks, who has been working with Ms Kiewit for 38 years, said she will be missed.

“She is an excellent and strong leader; assertive and an all-round good person. She will be sorely missed and we wish her all the best on her retirement,” said Ms Fredericks.