Bertrams Junior School principal Khanyi Twala is passionate about her school and is willing to fight for its growth.
“I want to see BJS grow and become bigger and better because that will benefit the children,” said Twala.
Bertrams Junior only offered four grades in the past but when Twala became principal, she wanted to grow the school and it became a personal project to find ways to grow the school.
“It was not fair on our learners to have to leave. I wanted the children to stay at the school to complete their primary education in the school.
“I was happy when my dream came true with the addition of Grades Five and Six,” said Twala.
The EXPRESS visited the historical school which will be turning 100 years in July to meet Twala who keeps on fighting for the growth of the school.
Twala started teaching in 1979.
Also read: Bertrams Junior to celebrate 100th birthday
“When I started training, I didn’t think I would love teaching so much. Initially, I chose the profession because it was considered to be a good job. While I was training, I discovered that I loved it and developed a passion for it,” said Twala.
She started at Bertrams Junior as a Grade R teacher in 2002. Little did she know of the work ahead of her.
She worked her way up to head of department and eventually became the principal.
“When I came to the school, I had a background from high school and things were totally different when I got to Bertrams.
“When I got here, we were a teaching staff of eight and the school was small.
“It challenged me because I needed to adjust to the children’s level and also share the work because one teacher had to teach more than one subject,” said Twala.
She said although the transition was not easy, it was part of her journey and made her look at how she could make things better for the school.
When she was appointed principal in 2014, she committed herself to making Bertrams Junior better for its learners.
She said the school is diverse and sometimes there is a lack of parent involvement because of a number of reasons, but she wants to change that.
She decided to introduce the knitting project and never thought it would be the beginning of great things.
“I just wanted to teach the children a new skill and build a school spirit and encouraged parents to get involved. The children loved it. The whole school was so excited that you would find some using pens and sticks as needles. We ended up with beanies, gloves and scarves, which we donated to an NGO in Doornfontein. I was proud of the work we did,” said Twala.
She said the knitting project attracted Laura Wegener, the group international director at Stuttafords Johannesburg who answered the plea for a donation.
While she was helping with the knitting project, she saw there was a much bigger need in the school than wool and needles.
“She was a blessing to the school. Because of the passion I had for growing the school, she understood why it was important to grow the school. She decided to help us raise the money to make it possible,” said Twala.
Also read: Young man owes it all to Bertrams school
Laura introduced the school to the FIDI 39 Club which ended up adopting the school for a period of ten years.
She said the journey had challenges but she had a positive mind, was determined to achieve the goal and also enjoyed the support she received from the people who joined her on the journey.
“The hard work started paying off. We first started with two classes for Grade R which were not there before. That meant children could start with the school, grow and also achieve in another five classes,” said Twala.
“The school has an amazing history and we have been moving forward. As we turn 100 years old, I would like to see the school grow from where it is now,” said Twala.
She said her next mission is to build a science and computer lab and sports grounds for the school.
Formers learners of the school are invited to attend the celebration that will take place in July.
If you are interested in donating towards the centenary celebration, you can contact Khanyi Twala 0116142424 or Paul Mbimala 074 852 7245.