The much-anticipated appointment of the new principal of Union Preparatory School has been announced by the school governing body.

This decision caps an extensive search that began when Ms Leona Rich announced her retirement as principal after 12 years of dedicated service to the school. Mrs Belinda Botha (née Swartz) officially takes up her new position on Monday, 28 October.

Commenting on her appointment, Mrs Botha said she was looking forward to the new chapter in her career and reaffirmed her commitment to continue the successful development of the school.

“The school has grown substantially since it first opened its doors in 1967 and it is important that we continue to evolve and embrace the changes with new ideas and build on the strengths of the school, while taking it to greater heights in all areas,” said Mrs Botha.

A passionate educator, with a deep understanding of the unique challenges facing the youth in today’s switched-on, digital society, Mrs Botha admits her leadership style involves embracing different mindsets and creating effective two-way communication.

“My teaching philosophy has always been ‘Every child matters’, therefore I believe in discipline, quality teaching and learning and, above all, team work. I have based my teaching career on the Batho Pele principles, especially the last one – ‘We serve’, therefore I look forward to serving the Union community.” A born Graaff-Reinetter, Mrs Botha began her teaching career in 1983 at Asherville Secondary School in Graaff-Reinet, shortly after the school opened its doors in June 1982. Since then she has gained valuable experience at both primary and high school level.

After having taught at Asherville Secondary for more than 10 years, Mrs Botha served as the Department of Education’s Deputy Director of Youth Affairs (1996 – 2001) and taught English and Phys Ed in the UK (2001 – 2008).

In 2008 she returned to South Africa, where she taught at the Narsingstraat and Graaff-Reinet primary schools, before being reinstated at Asherville Secondary School in August 2009.

There, she was part of the Senior Management Team since 2010 and progressed to head of department (English) in 2017.

When asked about the highlights of her teaching career so far, Mrs Botha found it difficult to single out only a few, but in the end stated that coaching the EP u/16 netball team, serving as vice-chair of Netball SA, representing South Africa’s netball fraternity in Australia and New Zealand and being the first woman of colour to receive a SA Netball Umpiring and Coaching grading, are some of her most precious memories.

“The seven years I spent teaching abroad was also a momentous time in my life and one that I’ll be forever grateful for,” said Mrs Botha.

“I look forward to this exciting challenge and know that with the support of Union’s committed, hard-working team of educators, I will be able to lead this school to an even higher level of excellence,” concluded Mrs Botha.

  • Mrs Botha has She has three beautiful kids, Liezel (who is employed at the Dep of Education, Jarad (who’s teaching in Beijing) and Jody-Ann (currently a final-year student at UFS).  She also has grandson she dotes on, Camran, a Grade 7 learner at Union High School.
  • A special assembly will be held in Mrs Botha’s honour on Monday morning, 28 October at 07:20 to welcome her to the community. Parents and friends of the Union Schools are more than welcome to attend.