Time, Talent & Treasure - Honouring Jackie Matlala
My journey at St Stithians College started in 2008 with my oldest son, Tshegofatso. We wanted our son to go to a Christian High school and after searching through a number of high schools - we decided that St. Stithians will be the perfect school for our kids purely because the Honour Code resonated with us more: i.e. Honour God, Honour Self and Honour Others.
By then we were not sure what to expect, and whether it was the best decision to bring him here. This was the beginning of a long and exciting journey, a journey to be enjoyed. During my first year I made friends and learnt how the College operates. I learnt how to navigate myself through the unchartered waters. This was really a new terrain for me, but my excitement enabled me to journey and soldier on.
It soon became clear to me that the decision to bring our son here was the right and necessary one. This culminated in me recommending that all our children must come to Saints, as I felt it will be a better home for them. Katleho soon followed, Kamohelo joined in the last term the same year both at BP and my daughter Keabetswe joined JP in 2013. By then, Tshego was already in Matric as a boarder at Mt. Stephens ….his experience of being taught responsibility, accountability and discipline soon rubbed on his brothers, my other two boys also wanted to experience the joys of being boarders. I looked and watched with both excitement and amazement as I saw my boys grow into MEN. I also found the College providing a good balance between academic, culture and sports. It emphasised the need for the children to find their own niche and identity. Despite all this, the College also taught my children to be part of the Saints community, the motto “ONE and ALL” soon became a reality not just a cliché. A community was born and my children were part of it.
As President John F. Kennedy once said….’Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country’. This became my mantra as I took a decision not to ask the school/s what they can do for me but what I can do for the school/s.
I started to participate in various structures in the college from assisting in the library at JP, to being part of the moms lift club to Ivory Park in Tembisa at BP; to selling boerewors rolls to raise funds at BC, to assisting in raising funds, being selected as one of the judges for the Heritage Day Melting Pot Competition, assisting with lifts to the Sunshine Centre in Craighall at GP to being involved in various sports committees and Leadership roles.
I became passionate about Basketball and felt the need to support and “Make a Difference”. My participation soon became one of activism as I chose to lead and not be an armchair critic. I became part of the Basketball Committee. We foresaw the growth of this sporting code becoming one of the best and growing sport which had a ripple effect in attracting other boys to the Boys College. The Saints Basketball became a rallying cry for the boys. Saints BC and Basketball became synonymous.
My passion was further recognised with my participation in parent structures i.e. the PTA, representing the parents’ interests and hopes. This became my Litmus Test as I was nominated as the Chairperson of the BC PTA. This was testament of my passion, love and commitment to the College.
Although there were challenges and speed humps as well along the way, they were not insurmountable. The team/s that I was part of challenged injustices and the status quo. This was done because of our love for the college and the need to leave a better legacy.….. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said ….’Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead, where there is no path and leave a trail’. We wanted to ensure that when history was written, we will be remembered as those that made the difference for the betterment of the College and the next generations.
Projects/Committees that I was involved in:
· Chair of BC PTA : 2017 – 2020
· Council Member: 2017 -2020
· Basketball Committee Member : 2016 – 2019
· BC Parent Support Group ( PSG) member : 2018 - 2020
· Planning and Development (P&D) member : 2019 – 2025
· Chairperson of the Sports Festival 2020 - 2021
In this journey, I also saw myself developing into a better person as I got exposed and was allowed to participate in broader college structures like the College Council. This further taught me how decisions about the College are being made and the strategic direction the College was taking.
I became a better person as this also afforded me the opportunity to interact with other parents and staff members across the campus who were more experienced and understood what the College stood for. This enhanced further my love for the College.
When I look back at the 12yrs I have spent here at the College there is no doubt that…… I came, I saw and I enjoyed myself and made a difference. I can only thank the group of parents and College staff that I served with in different structures for their support. This made the difference between embracing the College badge and enjoying myself. It is my considered view that my 12 years’ experience at the College was one that many parents can attest to with……..full of twists and turns. But overall a roller coaster full of more positives.
If you ask me if I would recommend the College to other parents...my answer is a BIG YEESSS! There is no doubt that I will be an Ambassador for the College. All this is because of my experience that had a positive impact to some of those that I have interacted with. I will forever be indebted to the College for the experience and opportunities afforded to me and my family during that 12 year journey.
Legacy I want to leave behind...
Being raised in a Methodist family – I lived my life guided by the quote from John Wesley that says:
‘Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can’
The legacy I want to leave behind is reflected below:
- The sports trophy - Mogale Matlala Trophy for the most improved Football player in grade 12 – this reflects our love for sports and its importance in every child’s life
- The leadership trophy – Jacqui Matlala trophy for the Best Committee Prefect. As Kenneth Blanchard said ...’the key to successful leadership today is to influence, not authority’
- The Thandulwazi Fund in my honour for inspiring service to the school put together by the 2020 PTA committee - ‘Jackie Matlala Saturday School Fund’. This project is very close to my heart and my wish is to continue to fund it for as long as I live purely because I can relate to the experiences that those children go through, the desire and the need to want to uplift themselves by attending Thandulwazi Maths and Science Academy which is there to assist them in achieving their dreams.
- The Matlala Boys planting olive trees – this represents the young men they are and where they want to be. This is a legacy of peace and friendship – which is also enshrined in the values of St. Stithians College.
- Covid-19 2020 Teacher appreciation artwork. All the names of BC and Thandulwazi teachers, staff and interns were printed on the artwork. The message read: ‘Thank you for being steadfast as you were agile. Your dedication has left an indelible mark in all of us’
Basketball achievements during my term as the Chair of PTA are:
- The building of the 2 extra basketball courts in 2017/18.
- The launch of the 1st u16 basketball tournament in 2018.
- The building of the Basketball Pavilion in 2019
All these structures that I participated in; are now self-sustainable and those who will come after will be able to carry the torch forward. Parents must make a decision to participate in different committees to make an impact and a difference in those areas. As parents, we are key stakeholders and must play our part actively.
Message of hope for 2021 and beyond…
Like all storms, this too shall come to pass. There will be calm after the Covid-19 storm...
This means, we must as a matter of cause begin to adapt to the new norms and challenges. We must create approaches and show resilience to adapt and survive.
The 4IR readiness and adapting to new learning techniques provides us with opportunities for learning and as parents, we need to support both the college and our children to embrace the ‘new normal’. Even in the midst of all this we must remain hopeful that with all developments in the field of medicine to deal with covid, including the availability of vaccines; we will steadily and slowly return to where we should be.
It is my wish and prayer that all lessons learnt from 2020 to early 2021 will provide us with unquestionable resolve to remain hopeful that things will get better this year; albeit slowly and gradually.
#TimeTalentTreasure #HopeAndLight2021 #InspiringExcellence #MakingAWorldOfDifference