Abbotts Northcliff gets new leadership

Principal of Abbotts College Northcliff, Shelley van Buren shares how she hopes to positively impact the school.

Abbotts College Northcliff has a new principal, Shelley van Buren and she always sees the glass as half full.

Originally from Durban, Van Buren wanted to be a nurse when she finished school, but her persuasive father coaxed her into following her second love which was teaching.

She started at the school as an accounting and economics teacher and later, in 2005 became deputy principal. After previous principal, JC Engelbrecht moved on to become executive head at Curro Aurora, Van Buren stepped in as acting principal for the first four months of this year.

Principal of Abbotts College Northcliff Shelley van Buren plans to be a leader that incorporates the ideas of everyone she works with.

“I never aspired to be a principal, when you are in this position you do not teach as much and I love being in the classroom,” said Van Buren.

She officially started her position as principal on 1 May, a role she gladly accepted so she could keep the culture and continuity of the school going. One of the many things this role has taught her is to ask for help when needed. “I just want to make sure the school continues to thrive and children reach their potential.”

The school is now looking to incorporate grade 8 and 9s from next year, marking a new, exciting challenge she will embrace. In her new role, Van Buren said she has learned a school was not based on one person’s thoughts but the coming together of minds.

“You need to be involved with the children, you’re not just somebody behind the desk, you have to show the children you are visible and there for them.”

To ensure this bond between her and the schoolchildren, Van Buren said she makes sure to build relationships with them, finding out what makes them tick and they can see she is engaged and interested in their lives. Her challenges have been juggling her time between teaching and being the head of the school. “When you are overwhelmed, just delegate, you also want to have a happy staff so to perpetuate success.”

Van Buren hopes to fill the school to its capacity. At the moment, the school has about 250 children though it can cater for 400.

Looking back at her career choice, Van Buren is of the thought that she chose the perfect career for herself. Though there are moments one might question their choice, the joys that come from it are great.

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