“While others sing and loudly boast of famous schools with wondrous names, to us the Brebner School means most surpassing all their proudest claims,” are the opening lyrics to the Brebner school anthem and it seems the school is living up to them quite well.
Over the weekend, Brebner High School’s headmaster, Andrew Taylor, won the Nelson Mandela Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Teaching Awards in Midrand. This award is given to candidates who reflect the values of Nelson Mandela and Taylor had the pleasure of being given this award by the minister of basic education, Angie Motshekga, and minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor.
Speaking on why he believes he won this award, Taylor said, “You know, back in the Apartheid years, when Mandela was arrested, we were not even allowed to hear anything about him. After 1989, when he was released from jail and I heard and saw what he stood for, I decided that I too would stand for that. From that moment on, I dedicated the remainder of my years as a teacher to fighting the system and ensuring that education becomes non-racial and more inclusive for all.”
The long-standing principal said while receiving the award was both spectacular and humbling, his greatest reward over the years has been seeing his learners become successful in their careers and lives. “I attribute a lot of our success as a school to our approach, which allows every student their right to individuality. We do not put our learners in a box here but rather, we allow them to be themselves while providing them with the tools and skills to be the best versions of themselves,” Taylor added.
He said this approach can be seen in how the school allows its learners to be part of the decision-making process on uniform and how the school has changed its policies over the years to accommodate the needs of learners with regards to student politics on now sensitive issues such as hair, minor uniform adjustments and so forth.
Taylor also said while he hopes to continue as the school’s head for a few more years, in coming years he hopes to see mathematics become more relative to the job market. “I do believe that mathematics must be adjusted to the new market and needs of the job market today. We’re still practising the mathematics of old and I believe that it is not serving our students. So that’s one thing I’d like to stay and fight for.
“These are not just my learners, they are my children and I wake up with enthusiasm every day because I look forward to seeing them grow. The day I wake and I do not feel any enthusiasm is the day I will tender my resignation,” Taylor concluded.