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Local School Headmaster Award Winner

Petru Viljoen

Mark Matthee, Principal of Graskop Primary attended the National Teachers Awards and won 1st place in the category: Excellence in Primary School Leadership. The ceremony was held by the Department of Education at the Sandton Convention Centre on February 16th, 2019.

Mark initiated the digitalizing of all lesson plans so the processes are transparent, problem areas are identified and dealt with early in the curriculum. The system is virtually paperless. The pupils enjoy the visual aspects of the lessons being presented in PowerPoint. Schools in Nelspruit approached Mark to demonstrate the process. The South African School Management System wanted to introduce the electronic system and Graskop Primary was in a position to make suggestions to the body.

‘’I didn’t do it for myself. Mr Sidwell Kgatane, deputy-head of Graskop Primary School, urged me to enter,’’ Mark said. The exposure of Graskop Primary because of this was enormous. The school’s Facebook page had more than 6600 visitors since Mark won the award. Different schools in the district were also encouraged to enter.

Mark grew up in Alberton, Gauteng. He was awarded a bursary and studied in Potchefstroom. He taught at two different schools in Gauteng. The schools were closed during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. He used the time to send out his CV and was appointed at a primary school in Nelspruit, where his career developed enormously.

In 2011 he applied for the position as principal of Graskop Primary and started in 2012. He achieved his Masters in Education Management and Public Management and both Mark and Sidwell Kgatane are currently studying for their PhDs.

‘’The support of parents is key to the success of the management of the school,’’ he said. He learned to manage multi-cultural staff  in an interactive way and has experienced growth in getting to know different cultures.

He believes in teamwork and organises team-building exercises regularly.

During 2013 Sasol and York sponsored the upgrading of the school’s toilets and Vodacom sponsored repairing and painting of classrooms. ‘’Local sponsors are scarce,’’ he said.

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