Nomaxabiso (or Xabsi as she is affectionately known) is our Pre-Primary teacher. She is a school parent and a mother of 2. She was born and raised in Kenton but spent a few years in Port Elizabeth after school where she completed Level 1-4 in Early Childhood Development and then worked in a Preschool. When she returned to Kenton in 2015 she opened a Preschool near her home. Next to this she opened a soup kitchen that offers aftercare and homework assistance for children who live in her area. Xabsi loves the working dynamics at Bushwillow and that everyone is accepted and given a voice. She is a lady with a big heart and even bigger dreams – it is a privilege to have her on our team.
Portia is a mother of two, and the big mother of Bushwillow School, making sure that everyone is secure and loved. She helps to set clear and fair boundaries, is patient, caring and joyful. Always going the extra mile, Portia is a wonderful cook and loves reading. She is a passionate advocate for education and loves learning new things herself. Portia’s roosterkoek is sold at school on the first Friday of every month and is a highlight of Bushwillow life.
Gr 1 – 2 Teacher
Paula has four years of preschool teaching experience at Bushken Pre-Primary and has done her diploma in Early Childhood Development. She previously taught the Pre-Primary class and the children are just naturally drawn to her kind and caring personality. She is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to learning and believes that children learn through exploration and discovery. Paula aims to provide a nurturing environment to help children grow in confidence as their passion for learning increases. Her desire is to equip children to be the best that they can be – to discover their own unique strengths and learning style. We love the kindness and compassion that Paula brings to our team.
Gr 1 – 2 Associate Teacher
Nokubonga (or Bongi as she is affectionately known) is the teaching assistant to Grade 1 & 2. From an early age, Bongi has always had a passion for teaching. She has always seen it as a way to reach both the young and the old. Bongi worked for a government program KHARI-GUDE (Let’s Read) and as well as JOT Program assisting grade 4 learners. She is the gears that make the wheel keep turning and manages to organise the young learners with seemingly effortless efficiency.
Jessica van Graan
Gr 3 Teacher
Jessica is the Grade 3 teacher at Bushwillow school, a school parent and a mother of three children. She has twelve years of teaching experience in multiple schools around South Africa and has home schooled her own children. As a board member she brings in expertise in child-centred and holistic curriculum development, school organisation and event planning. Her creativity and child-focused approach are key assets to our board!
Gr 4 Teacher
Meet Bella, a perfect fit for Bushwillow in every sense. She grew up in the Eastern Cape and went to school in Grahamstown. Her journey took her to Australia for 13 adventurous years, where she honed her skills and passion for teaching, specializing in early childhood education.
Now back home, she teaches Grade 4 at Bushwillow, in a thematic cross-curricular approach. Bella’s two sons also attend the school. Her warmth, kindness, and willingness to contribute make her an invaluable part of the school’s community.
Gr 3 – 4 Afrikaans Teacher
Marianne is a retired high school languages teacher who moved to Kenton 5 years ago. She was keen to volunteer as an assistant to anyone or to contribute in any way to the school life after she read about the Bushwillow Philosophy on our website. She felt inspired by the school’s natural environment and was interested in the Reggio Emilia approach, where children are encouraged to direct their own learning. Marianne has been involved with sharing her knowledge of writing and poetry in the senior English class and more recently, she became a voluntary Afrikaans teacher for the gr 3-4 class. Her other contribution to our school has involved assisting teachers with lesson planning and curriculum development. Her passion is to share her many years of school management expertise and to mentor teachers.
Gr 5 – 6 Teacher
Michelle lived in Grahamstown as a child, choosing to travel and see the world after attending Victoria Girl’s High School. She then attended Rhodes University studying various courses giving her a diverse background in many fields, thus broadening her expertise. Whilst teaching at a school in Johannesburg, she found her passion for teaching and so decided to study again, this time a PGCE.
She has taught at various schools settling in Plett for about 7-8 years.
Michelle decided to move back to the Eastern Cape to be closer to her family. She is married with 2 children and loves to read, travel, swim, hike, arts and crafts and playing board games.
Her qualifications include PGCE intermediate phase, BA Psychology and Sociology, BA Industrial and Organizational Psychology and Sociology, Counselling certificates mostly in care for HIV/AIDS, 120h Advanced TEFL/TESOL and various other accredited courses.
Michelle says: “I love education, I love to learn new things. Inspiring others to find passion and joy is an amazing experience. I connect easily with students and establish a warm, caring and friendly environment. I’m a creative person. Teaching allows me to put this to good use. Bushwillow’s school ethos is true to my teaching style”.
Grade 7, 8 and 9 Teacher
Julie joined the Bushwillow team in 2018, after home schooling her three daughters for five years. Julie studied Genetics at Pretoria University and has completed a course on Integrated Learning Therapy (ILT). ILT specialises in recognising learning difficulties and behavioural problems in children that are not yet learning ready.
Through home schooling her daughters, she realised the importance of nurturing a love for learning. This experience also showed her the importance of teaching each child in the unique way that he or she learns to enable them to reach their full potential. Having grown up on a farm and being very inquisitive herself, has made Julie a strong advocate for outdoor and experimental learning.
Student & Conversational Isixhosa Teacher
Ntombizanele (or Zanele) is a school parent and mother of 2. Helping others is Zanele’s passion, especially helping underprivileged kids to reach their full potential. Her work for the local JOT programme shows her dedication for this; twice a week she helps grade 4 learners in the local Ekuphumleni Township with their homework.
Zanele is a hard worker and a go-getter. If she sets her mind to something she does it. She always does her work with a big smile on her face and makes us happy with her beautiful singing! She inspires the kids to dream big and follow through.
Hominy grew up in the Eastern Cape in Uitenhage. She had a passion for art and studied teaching in Grahamstown. She completed four years training and started her teaching career in East London. As a married woman she was not allowed to teach and stayed home to raise her three children. She spent many years on a farm in the Free State and started teaching at the local primary school in Kroonstad where she stayed until she retired. She has a passion for remedial teaching and spent time helping her dyslexic granddaughter. She has since joined the Bushwillow Team to mentor and facilitate/help children in closing gaps and those who struggle with learning barriers.
St. Elmo is from the Eastern Cape, but attended Vorentoe Hoërskool, a prominent sports school in Johannesburg, where he received Honor Colours for rugby and athletics. He has played senior club and university rugby for 16 years. During this time, he also played in Glasgow, Scotland for GHA.
In his playing career he was fortunate to have been coached by different Provincial, Springbok, Scotland and British Lions players and coaches that helped form his foundations as a rugby coach.
Coaching rugby, athletics and cricket at various schools and senior clubs for more than 20 years, he also coached on Provincial level for the Lions at school boy levels and for the SWD Eagles on senior amateur level.
Coach Wilken has a Diploma in rugby theory and practice from RAU (Randse Afrikaanse Univeriteit) now called UJ.
He has a passion for teamwork, individual growth and community upliftment. His greatest joy is seeing a child’s face bursting with excitement after they suddenly get it right.