Head of Senior School, Gill Jeffrey Reflects on 2019

The term uBuntu is derived from a Nguni word, meaning ‘the quality of being human.’ To the observer, ubuntu can be seen and felt in the spirit of willing participation, unquestioning cooperation, warmth, openness, and personal dignity. It infers that a person cannot exist in isolation.

We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, or small groups separated from one another and focused on what each of us wants or feels we deserve. However, each of us is connected. What we do and say affects not only ourselves but the whole community around us.

One of our school’s values is community. Community is derived from the Old French word comuneté, which comes from the Latin communitas, meaning ‘public spirit’.

St Andrew’s does not just come about without the spirit of uBuntu and the work of community. Our community spans 117 years. The intricate network of alumni and their families creates the golden thread that binds all who have been educated at St Andrew’s or who have worked here. Not one of you is here by chance. Each one of you is meant to be here, to be part of something far greater than yourselves. At present on this campus we have just over 1 000 students ranging from 3 months of age to 19 years old. Everything that each of you does or says impacts on those around you. No one experience of this space or place is the same.

All organisations require constant change and innovation for improvement. Educational changes are traditionally perceived as being problematic and slow. It is not the nature of the change itself but the knowledge, skills and attitudes of all involved and the way that these are expressed in action which takes the time if the change is to be permanent. I acknowledge the original girls who formed what is now known as True Andrean. Their aim was to unpack what a Perfect Andrean looked like. Their work was one of inclusion of all grades, races and cultures. Many discussions have happened, and a lot of good work has been done. But this is a journey and one that does not have a defining end.

“I look forward to more girls, in the spirit of ubuntu, joining these discussions and in action continuing to build a community that allows us all to eat from the same basket of fruit.”

Grade 12s, there may come a time where you will fall back on this community and its network. You may, through what it is that you do, be called to action on behalf of someone else or may require the help of another alumni. Being an Andrean will open doors for you if you allow it. We too hope to see you in board rooms, science labs, engineering fields or teaching, being the true authentic selves you are working towards being. Whatever it is that you choose, be your very best version of it. I wish each of you blessings for a meaningful life, a life filled with the sense of community and the spirit of ubuntu