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Dynamic city principal bidding farewell

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Jacques Tredoux, executive head of St Patrick’s CBC, reflects on his time at the school

Jacques Tredoux. Picture: Supplied

Earlier this week the executive head of St Patrick’s CBC, Jacques Tredoux, walked on the school’s new astroturf and this dynamic leader wondered, not for the first time, what he was actually doing.

After spending five years at the Catholic-based school in Kimberley, which he helped build up, Tredoux, his wife Jo-Marie and their three boys will be leaving the Diamond City at the end of this month for Oman, where he has accepted a post as head of the Azzan Bin Qais International School in the country on the south-eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.

Chatting to the DFA about his time spent at CBC on Friday, Tredoux said he arrived at the school in 2016, wondering then too, what he had done.

Coming from St Dominic’s College in Welkom, Tredoux remembered that in September 2016, St Patrick’s was close to closing its doors due to financial difficulties. “At the time, I didn’t realise the extent of all that needed to be done. A former pupil said he remembered how he had laughed at all my plans at the time. But now, he says, when he looks at all that the school has managed to get right, it is the school community that has the biggest smile.

Tredoux added that none of this would, however, have been possible without the constant support he received from the Board, the Development Trust, the staff, past pupils, parents, the pupils and the community of Kimberley.

He lists as the biggest highlight of his time spent in Kimberley the opportunity he was given to present an alternative school choice to especially English-speaking parents for their children.

“Academically the school can hold its head high among other independent schools in South Africa. In 2015, the average pupil mark was 56% – now that average is 65% and we are still aiming even higher.”

With a total of 33 major renovation and upgrading projects under his belt since he took over, Tredoux is also thankful for the heritage St Patrick’s CBC has been able to restore for Kimberley. “These buildings – the school as well as the old Nazareth House building, which was built in 1888 – are part of Kimberley’s history and by restoring and preserving them, we have been able to contribute to the maintenance of the city’s rich and proud heritage.”

For past pupils of the school, especially, the upgrading of Keeley Park has also been a major achievement and something that pupils both far and wide can look at with pride. “Old boys, especially, have many fond memories of Keeley Park.”

This R18 million investment has seen the development of a full astro hockey court, with high-mast lighting, as well as four netball courts and the upgrading of the cricket fields and nets.

Tredoux remembers that he was reminded shortly after he arrived that Kimberley people voted with their feet. “At the beginning of 2016, there were 467 pupils enrolled at the school. We ended that year with 652 and today we have 1 043.” This number is expected to exceed 1 200 next year.

Together with the increase in enrolments, the school has also become financially sustainable and viable.

But for Tredoux, his biggest achievement has been the fact that he has been able to create what he calls a “CBC family, with a sense of care and belonging for each member of our school community”.

“Here each person feels that they are part of a family. The school is blessed with quality staff who stepped up when Covid-19 hit and within two weeks of lockdown the school managed to produce an online programme that is the talk of South Africa. When the learners started coming back, the staff had to manage the online as well as the classroom teaching – and all this was done with a smile.”

When the Tredoux family leaves at the end of this month, they know they are leaving a part of themselves behind.

“I was approached a couple of times to take up a post with a company in Oman which, amongst other portfolios, is also involved in education. I like their outlook on education.”

But Jacques and Jo-Marie are leaving with heavy hearts. “I had to decide between taking up this new challenge or staying and sharing in the successes of the work that has been achieved here – there are exciting developments taking place at CBC, like the School of Arts and the new facilities, and I will miss being part of this.”

However, he believes that the time is right to grab the new opportunities being presented.

“We are not turning our backs on Kimberley. We have been here for five years and some of our roots will stay behind. This is a very special place, where we have been welcomed with open arms and CBC has been our family. There is a sense of belonging.”

But for Tredoux, the greatest blessings have been from above. “We have been truly blessed. God’s hand has touched this school and we are in awe of what He has done. It is my prayer that His light will continue to shine on every person in this school.”