The Wesley Practising School in Salt River said goodbye to principal André Engel who finished up last Friday March 20.
Mr Engel, 41, from Ottery, is taking up the principal position at John Graham Primary School in Plumstead as soon as the new school term opens.
Mr Engel grew up in Kamieskroon, Northern Cape, and has 16 years teaching experience. He first started at Ned Doman High School in Athlone, then Westerford High School in Rondebosch, then spent nearly 10 years at Wynberg Boys’ before taking up the principal position at Wesley Practising school for the past two years.
Before he became a teacher, he was a qualified town planner for two years, a profession he did not enjoy.
“I left because I couldn’t relate and couldn’t see what the other town planners saw and struggled to see how what I was doing made a difference in people’s lives,” he said.
Mr Engel went into teaching because he found a passion for helping children grow to their full potential.
Being principal of Wesley Practising School wasn’t always an easy job for Mr Engel. “The limited resources were always challenging, but what frustrated me was that people allowed it to limit their thinking and their ambitions. I refused to think like a ‘poor’ man and believed we should offer the kids as much as we possibly can,” he said.
During his two years there the school went through changes, like participating in the first inter-school, pupils taking part in music competitions, opening a new computer lap and pupils being part of original plays.
Mr Engel has seen the school grow from 217 pupils to 340 pupils now, with Grade 1 and Grade 2 getting an additional class, and the department also employed more permanent teachers to take part in the growth.
“This growth and access to opportunity keeps staff motivated and interested in the growing mindset,” he said.
Teacher Nicolas de Koker says they are losing a big asset with Mr Engel leaving.
“How the school was before he came, compared to what it is today; he made many changes and improvements, he brought precision to make sure the school ran efficiently,” he said.
Caretaker Alfonso Solomon says he is quite sad that Mr Engel is leaving.
“He brought many activities to the school like cultural activities, athletics and soccer, which I assist with and he made a huge difference to the pupils,” he said.
Bursar Lynette Furness says Mr Engel’s door was always open for anyone who wanted to speak to him. “ It’s sad to see him leave, besides work, we could confide in him on any matters and he never held ill feelings towards anyone,” she said.
Mr Engel is looking forward to his new position at John Graham Primary School. “I am excited about the opportunities – it is a bigger school and a lot more established and will bring its own challenges, but I see this as growth opportunities,” he said.
Fatima Kasker-Goosen will be taking over as acting principal until a permanent appointment is made.