The Circle of Excellence Principals’ Conference takes place once every year for the principals of the schools where the most Candidate Allan Gray Fellows come from. It affords the Foundation an opportunity to recognise the great work that these leaders and their schools are doing in grooming future leaders and entrepreneurs.
Grahamstown, in particular Rhodes University, played host to this year’s conference. This move provided the opportunity to activate synergies between the Foundation and the Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics, which is based at Rhodes University. Professor Pedro Tabensky and his team at the Centre made valuable contributions related to imparting ethics and values to high school learners and the impact this has on mindset development.
Moving from Excellence to Influence was the theme of the conference and ensured a range of engaging speakers and topics. Among the speakers were Dr Bridgette Gasa, who spoke on moving influence from a school level towards a national level; Dr Sizwe Mabizela, whose talk covered excellence in education; and Diana Hornby, who looked at approaches to community and school engagement. A number of principals and teachers shared best practices garnered from their own experiences and some Allan Gray Fellows and Candidate Allan Gray Fellows reflected on their entrepreneurial journeys up until now.
The 2014 edition of the Circle of Excellence Principals’ Conference hoped to achieve three things. Firstly, it wanted to honour the great work being done in developing remarkable young individuals; individuals who the Foundation can partner with in this next stage of their entrepreneurial journey and growth. Secondly, it aimed to expose the principals to thought leadership related to the development of an entrepreneurial mindset. In so doing they would be able to further impact their schools as well as the communities in which their schools operate. Lastly, we wanted to empower the principals to better identify potential in young people and develop this potential as best as possible, by ensuring that the impact the school makes on these individuals is relevant.
Based on the feedback we received from the principals it is clear that the 2014 edition of this conference hit the mark. We share some of the attendees’ comments below:
“The blend of experience and youth, theory and practice and the sense of family togetherness are all attributes that create the uniqueness of the conference. The themes are challenging and thought provoking and provide opportunity for provocative future debate. The Foundation’s emphasis on social upliftment and development through empowerment of the youth in education are ethics I subscribe to.”
“Enlightening. Positive reinforcement regarding our country.”
“The speakers, the students, the honest search for things that would benefit the greater good is inspiring and reminds me why I am doing what I do. In a sense it gives me new energy to continue.”
“We spend so much time as a school reaching out to colleagues and schools. We had the rare opportunity to ‘reach in’ within similar Circle of Excellence schools. I love the way the Foundation encourages us to unlock the rich expertise within our own remarkable circle and to learn from the cutting edge leaders and thinkers to whom we are exposed.”
“Absorbing speakers, great interaction, practical discussion and excellent connections with other school principals, all of which lead to ideas that can be implemented at one’s own school. Also, this interaction reveals that we experience similar problems that can be overcome with support that the conference participants suggested.”