By Busi Vilakazi
“I’m not retiring, but starting a new chapter of my life,” said Anton Dempsey on his last day as headmaster of Jeppe High School for Boys.
Dempsey is retiring after 37 years in education.
“My journey has been amazing. I got into teaching by chance – it was never my first choice. But the Lord had plans for me and I’m grateful to have embraced teaching. The moment I took on the profession, I fell in love with it,” said Dempsey.
He started teaching in 1980 and taught geography and science. He was later appointed headmaster at Rand Park High School before joining Jeppe in July 2000.
“I came into the school while it was facing difficult times. I told myself I’m up for the challenge. It was new to me – an all-boys school dealing with a hostel and all the challenges that came with that, but I told myself I can do this,” said Dempsey.
He said being part of the Jeppe family is a lifestyle and not an eight-to-five job.
“I had sacrificed time with my family over the years because as a school we have a busy schedule. But I don’t regret it, because this was a calling for me and I would not change anything. If I had to do it all over again, I would. I had the chance to influence these boys’ lives to do better. I have seen them come in as Grade Eights and leave as grown men with a purpose in life, and that is joy,” said Dempsey.
He said that Jeppe Boys will always be close to his heart.
“I may not be the headmaster any more, but I will still work with the school. I’m a trustee of the Theo Jackson Scholarship. Once a Jeppe, always a Jeppe,” said Dempsey.
He said he can never sit and do nothing, and retiring will allow him to do the things he was not able to do.
“Me and my wife had never had enough time to do what we wanted because of our demanding jobs. But now we have the time and we plan to travel and do projects that we always wanted to do. I always wanted to do a photography course and now this is my opportunity,” said Dempsey.
He said he will always hold the memories he made at Jeppe Boys close to his heart.
“I have met so many people in my time here. I will miss the boys and teachers and the great conversations we would have. To me, this was not a job – it was a ‘hobby’, because I did what I loved. Education is not only about the books but about how you influence a child’s life,” said Dempsey.
He thanked his wife and children for their support over the years.
“I would like to thank my family for all the support they have given me over the years and to my wife for giving me the opportunity to follow my passion,” said Dempsey.