A strong attachment to the town where she was born and raised, saw Dineo Moagi returning to her roots in Kathu, a small town in Northern Cape, and taking up a position as principal at Laerskool Sishen in 2017.
When she took up the reigns at the primary school, Moagi said a handful of community members who didn't know how deeply connected she was to the mining town, did not believe she was the right person for the job.
But her willingness to serve, the strategic values and principles she embodies, as well as a fluent flair in Afrikaans soon won over the hearts of parents, learners and educators alike and the support she needed to take the school to greater heights.
"I love being of service to others and I understand the community that I serve. I regard myself as an integral part of it," she said.
Moagi, who has been an educator for more than two decades believes that if you want to plan for 10 years then you plant trees, but when planning for a lifetime you sow sustainable seeds in the lives of learners.
"I want to see my learners becoming something greater than they can imagine, therefore I give them love and assure them that they matter, and they belong."
She said that when she started at the public no-fee grade R-7 school two years ago, it had around 400 learners and performed averagely in academics and extra mural activities. The number has grown to 700 learners in 2019, with many more parents coming forward to have their children enrolled.
"We are a good performing school, I can attest to this. I am surrounded by educators who are very dedicated and committed to going the extra mile, as well as learners who are hungry for education. As human beings, we are not perfect, but even with our differences we stand together. I am surrounded by a team that wants to do well."
She said her school now boasted an overall academic average of 85%, a significant increase from the 55-60% average in 2017. The learners are also excelling in rugby, athletics and netball.
"The private schools surrounding ours buy our learners and offer them sport bursaries. Although I become sad to see them go, I believe this reflects on the work I do with my team of educators," Moagi said.
She said the school's excellent strides had been achieved through collective efforts between the teachers, learners, and their parents.
Moagi said another integral element to the school's positive results has been the introduction of a nutritious breakfast served each morning to learners and teachers alike.
Laerskool Sishen is one of the beneficiaries of the Tiger Brands Foundation's in-school nutrition programme. A wide selection of oats, sorghum and maize based porridge is served at the school daily , and Moagi said it had been wonderful seeing the transformation brought forth by something as simple as a healthy breakfast.
"We are the only no-fee school in Kathu, and we cater to the poorest of the poor. Our learners come from struggling homes, and each morning they arrive as early as 6.30am while breakfast is served at 7.30am.
“They are happy and willing to come to school and they can't wait to have breakfast. We eat together, it's our school's tradition. I cannot applaud the Tiger Brands Foundation enough for the gift of love. When you feed someone, you show them love."
Moagi believes that fate led her back to Kathu, and she spends her days ploughing back to the lives of her learners and community at large. She wears multiple caps as a community builder, but she says she does none of that for acknowledgement or recognition.
"I will always avail myself to anything that needs me, especially if it advances my community."