W.D. Hendricks Primary

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Canadian teachers get a warm Cape Town welcome !

Three Ontario teachers – Monica Hendricks, Jacqueline Herman and Terry Shaw - share their experiences as Teacher Mentors at W.D.Hendricks Primary School, Cape Town.

Teacher volunteers with the staff of W.D.Hendricks Primary School

The school neighbourhood

Students proudly display pens, rulers and flags which they received from generous Canadian donors.

•  Ms. Monica Hendricks, an Elementary School teacher in Toronto; originally from South Africa.
Mrs. Jacqueline Herman, an Elementary School Vice-Principal in Georgetown, Ontario and a Trained Recovery Teacher.  Jacqueline is also originally from South Africa.
Dr. Terry Shaw, an Elementary School Principal in Thornhill, Ontario.

As requested by the principal, Mr. Graham Swartz, the objective was to share information and strategies for teaching English and implementing a balanced literacy program for primary aged school children.


An assessment of the school's needs was done through observation, model teaching, large workshops, mini-workshop, feedback comments and ongoing discussion and dialogue with staff over the course of three weeks.

W.D. Hendricks Primary School is located in Factreton, South Africa, a suburb,12 km. from Cape Town and was founded in 1967.


The school neighbourhood.
A clearly defined segment of the Factreton area feeds into W.D. Hendricks.  It is an extremely low socio-economic neighbourhood, with a low adult literacy rate and high unemployment.  Afrikaans is the first language of many, but English is also spoken.

W.D. Hendricks has population of 350 students with one administrator and a staff of 12.  The administrator also has a teaching complement.  It is a Grade1-7 school with two self contained Special Education classrooms.  Class sizes ranged from 28 to 47.  There are no supply teachers and if any teachers are absent, students are assigned to other classes.  The language of instruction is Afrikaans, English classes do not begin until the second grade.

The annual school fees are R100 and  only 20% of the population is able to pay them in full.  The school budget is approximately R30,000 with R21,000 used for operating and maintenance costs; therefore minimal funds remain to purchase classroom resources. Staff members are required to pay for photocopying and for supplies surplus to the few provided.

Our first day was met with crisp, cold, damp weather.  Upon entering the staffroom for our introductory meeting with the staff we were greeted by a display of the Canadian, on loan from the Canadian High Commission, and South African  flags as well as the WD Hendricks school flag on the wall.  We were later told the tale of Mr. Swartz's search for the stolen 15m. flagpole in the local junk- yards.  We were taken on a tour of the neighbourhood where we were able to observe the extreme contrasts in living conditions and resources. (Pictured right: Students proudly display pens, rulers and flags which they received from generous Canadian donors.)

We were warmly received by the staff  who were both excited and apprehensive about the S.A.W.W. Teacher Mentoring Project.  They were pleasantly surprised that both Jacqueline and Monica had some facility with Afrikaans.  This came in most handy when Jacqueline took over for the secretary one day!
In an assembly the students were welcomed on their return from the vacation break and introduced to the three Canadian visitors.  Student birthdays and achievements were highlighted in the assembly. 

We were escorted by Mr. Swartz on visits to other school in the Cape Town area.  During these visits we were able to observe the vast contrasts in needs, resources and programmes.   W.D. Hendricks Primary is dependent on the benevolence of organizations such as St.Timothy's  Church  which provides a cup of soup on a weekly basis the winter days.   By chance we were able to approach the local KFC franchise for a donation.  Peter Swartz, the owner, most kindly offered to supply the school with the unsold chicken on a weekly basis.  We thank him for his most generous support.

During our period of classroom visits we were able to observe the students and the teachers'  particular interests and needs.   A workshop on the Components of a Balanced Literacy Programme was well received. Workshops on reading and writing strategies, reading and writing assessment and evaluation and making classroom resources followed. After much discussion  a further workshop on Running Records and Reading rubrics was held.   A rubric of achievement levels and expectations specific to W.D.Hendricks  was developed by Jacqueline, much to the delight of the teachers.   It was wonderful to see the staff implementing some of the strategies immediately.

We were able to take along a great many teacher and student resources as well as gifts of flags, pencils, maple syrup treats and lapel pins for the children.  A gift of computers were also presented and we have been delighted to have had electronic communication since our return.  When told of the boxes of resources that were still  on the way, the principal was rendered speechless.

The school has asked us to convey their thanks to Argus Communications Ltd. of Texas, Scholar's Choice,  Scholastic Canada and the Wainwright Group for their most generous donations of resource materials.  The City of Brampton, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs, Gerrald Corrigan and the St. Anne School Council are also to be thanked for their gracious donations.   We would also like to thank  LCL Navigation Ltd. of Toronto and the South African High Commissioner, Andre Jaquet, for their extremely generous donations of shipping and freightage of the boxes that safely arrived after our departure.

Despite the odds W.D.Hendricks Primary has made a difference in the community.   Though in order to extend this contribution, the school is in need of a variety of resources.  Some of these needs include reading and reference materials in both languages, paper, notebooks, pencils, crayons, math manipulatives, carpets,  science equipment, art
materials and furniture.  The school's furniture is cumbersome and not particularly suited to the new methods and strategies required by the new curriculum.

Our experiences at W.D.Hendricks Primary School were both enriching and rewarding and in reviewing the staff's "Reflections on the Canadian Invasion" this was their experience too.  In the words of one of the teachers,  "...the only gripe I have is that there was too much to do over too short a period of time."  We have established both personal and professional links with the staff and hope that through continued dialogue that "too short period of time" will be extended.

We sincerely thank the members of South African Women for Women for providing us with this wonderful opportunity to work with the staff and students at  W.D.Hendricks Primary School.  We hope that our short stay has furthered the enhancement of the school's mission of enriching the lives and learning of the children.

Monica Hendricks
Jacqueline Herman
Terry Shaw