I never thought … I would live my dream.

A few years ago I had to break away from city life to just be able to breathe again. I found this cute guest house in the Midlands. I was scared to drive all the way to the coast by myself, so I thought half way will do. A drive 2 or 3 hours out the city will work. In the end it was about a 4-hour drive.

I woke up to the braying of a donkey and I thought: this is where I want to be. Not in a city, noise of cars, pollution, people not caring. I went horse riding that day close to Giants Castle. The mist was so thick; I was scared I would miss the road. But there was also so much beauty. I actually wanted to take photos, but with the mist so thick, another car might drive into me.

When I had to go back, I was sad leaving the tranquility behind. I got back to the rat race of the city. Still enjoying my work, visiting my friends taking up more and more because something was missing.

A few years later I came back. I saw a vacant post at a school in the Midlands, Treverton College. I thought: It is the Midlands, I can stay and work in the Midlands. I stayed at a guesthouse a few kilometres from the school. The first view I had in the mornings, horses. I thought: This is where I want to be. Timing was not right. I went back to the city, the rat race, taking up more and more to do because something was missing. I prayed because I was confused, my heart longed to the country side.

A few years later, my best friend sent me a screenshot of an available post again at Treverton. I asked God what He wanted me to do. Should I apply, should I stay where I was? The answer was: Apply. So I did and yes there I went again, back to the Midlands. They say 3rd time lucky. I just believe God made it possible this time. I packed everything and I left the rat race of the city. I knew God had a plan, I just did not know what yet.

What did I find at Treverton? Amazing people. Learners who are eager to learn. Friends that became family. Friends and learners that accept you the way you are, that will sometimes unknowingly lift your spirits, by just saying something in class that will make you laugh out loud, friends popping in for coffee asking if everything is okay. I can walk to both passions I have. Class and horses. I can take horse riding lessons. I can be with my favourite animals. I never thought that I would make hot dogs to learners who felt devastated by the results of trial exams, I did. Rewarding learners with brownies because the class average was above 70% for an assessment. I never thought I would think about inviting learners to come for coffee. It is so different, Treverton is a family.

I never thought that I would teach with a mask on my face and that masks would become a fashion trend. Yes, I do have my Hufflepuff, Batman and Horse masks. I did know that God sent me here so I can be safe. Like He lifted me from a horse, so that I did not get hurt, He brought me to the safest place I know. Treverton.

I know now: Treverton is the place to be. Treverton is a place of happiness, family.

#thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

Ms Carin van der Merwe (Afrikaans – College)

Throughout this lockdown period, we have all had to live with the uncertainty of not knowing when our lives will start again. Although living in lockdown and not being able to leave the farm, unless necessary, has been a challenge but it has also been the greatest blessing. I have been lucky enough to spend lockdown with my parents, my husband and my two children and I thank God for this blessing every day. I have had to do a lot of things that I never would have seen myself doing and it has been incredibly challenging, without my amazing fellow staff members I would not have coped. I’ve had to work on the farm every day and I’ve had to change my teaching style to suit online school. I have missed the children in my class dearly, and although I have enjoyed our weekly meetings, I can’t wait for schools to re-open so that we may reconnect in person. I would like to thank my grade 4s and their parents for helping me through this challenging time and for doing so well with their online school. #thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

Mrs Gail Palmer (Grade 4 Teacher)

This picture, a little damaged and with no glass front, is the only picture in the single room of a man in Bruntville, not far from Treverton College.  He worked at Treverton about a decade back before he lost his job. He received this picture from Chris Ackermann, and the pupils in the picture allow it to be dated to around 2008.

It has been lockdown now, and you may have struggled because, if you are a parent, you may have lost your job or suffered reduced income. Alternatively, if you are a pupil, you may have suffered with the sense of uncertainty that comes with knowing that your parents are struggling and may have to send you to another school. But for our friend from Bruntville, this is not a new struggle, because he has not had work for the last 10 years. You may also have struggled because you have not been able to visit extended family, and your social life has been impacted. But for our friend, this is not a new struggle, because he has no extended family. He only has his brother, who shares a second room in the same building. You may also have struggled because you can’t travel like you normally do, and your house has felt claustrophobic. But for our friend, this is not a new struggle, because, apart from never owning a car, he has not been familiar with more than his one room for many years. You may also struggle with the fear of getting COVID-19, or, more realistically, of your grandparents getting it and maybe succumbing to it. While our friend need not worry much about his relatives getting it – they are almost all gone – he will fear it, but that is also because he lives with HIV. So it’s a matter of perspective, and it’s not to say that our friend does not suffer – he does, the difference is that for him, it’s his constant companion

To our friend from Bruntville, the picture of four pupils in a beautiful setting on the Treverton College campus is a window into a happy phase of his life, and it did not take much to make him happy. Chris Ackermann may have forgotten that he gave this picture to our friend from Bruntville, but he has not forgotten that he got it from Chris. The pupils in the picture may have forgotten that this picture was taken – though they may remember if they read this – but, though he forgets their names, he does not forget the pupils.

This man is an example of those who Jesus refers to as ‘The Lowly’. But the lowly are not only in Bruntville. Those who live on the social fringes where you are, are also the lowly. The child who sits on their own at break. The child who is last to be accepted into the groups for a project, or for a mini-rugby/hockey match. The child who is perceived by others to be unattractive, or who comes from a disadvantaged background and is mocked for that. If you are a parent, then the lowly to you are those on the fringes – neglected – at the work place.

Who are you to the lowly? Do you leave the lowly with good memories, such as the memories our friend from Bruntville has when he looks at the picture on his wall? Or are you part of the environment that leaves then on the fringes? Tender hearts are lacking in this world where individuality is celebrated. But never underestimate the power of kindness rooted in your understanding that Christ was himself described as lowly, and associated with the lowly. See what Isaiah writes: “…he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Of course, Christ himself teaches “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

But beyond the boundaries of Treverton is the reality of that community, Bruntville. Lockdown has given you time, and time can allow you to think, to pray, and to plan. Maybe you have a heart for the lowly?

#thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

Mr Derek Brown (Head of Life Sciences – College)

TREVERTON2C CYCLE CHALLENGE

“If it excites you and scares you at the same time, it probably means that you should do it.” 21-23 October 2016 – A weekend that presented many memorable moments as we embarked on an epic cycling trip from Treverton to Durban.

Mr Derek Brown and I had chatted about this trip and the possibilities of making it happen. It required a bit of planning, but I knew that I could make this adventure materialize. After a bit of pondering on Google Maps there was this rough idea of where we would be exploring and camping over the two nights. That was all that I needed to justify this trip and that we were certainly going to go ahead with it. “If it excites you and scares you at the same time, it probably means that you should do it.” I told myself.

Friday: Treverton to Albert Falls Dam – 76km

We departed Treverton at 1pm and headed towards Currys Post via the Currys Post Road. Our team consisted of 3 staff, 3 students, 1 post matric, 1 parent and 1 driver with a quantum and bike trailer.  We made good ground for the first 2 hours before descending into the Karkloof valley; the fast rolling districts roads in between the Sappi forests were breath-taking. Before we knew it we were surrounded by an elusive afternoon storm. The heavy rain lasted about twenty minutes which left us drenched and covered in mud from head to toe. However, we knew that we would need to keep moving at a steady rate in order to arrive at Albert Falls before nightfall. After cruising on past the Karkloof Country Club we were blessed with an amazing rainbow and late afternoon sunshine to warm us up a bit as we were briskly moving down towards the dam. We arrived at the Albert Falls Dam and made our way to the Bon Accorde Msinsi Resort at around 5:30pm. We were privileged to witness a beautiful sunset and evening to pitch our tents. Some braai meat was cooked and some stories were shared around a bonfire. Everyone knew that Day 2 was going to be a brutal day and a good night’s rest was in order.

Saturday: Albert Falls Dam to Inanda Dam – 99km

Rise and shine at 5am with some coffee and rusks overlooking the dam. We had some breakfast, packed our tents and ensured that all our belongings were loaded into the quantum. We departed at 7am and headed out of the resort and onto the R33 road. We crossed the Umgeni River and realised that this was the river that we will be basing the remainder of our adventure upon. The sun began to rise and we knew that a long day awaited us. We stuck to some of the more prevalent roads which helped us cover some good distance in the first few hours. We descended down towards Cumberland Nature Reserve before heading down into the Umgeni Valley. The beautiful Nagle Dam was next on our radar; we meandered down the river before having a well-deserved snack on the famous dam wall as we gazed towards the dam and the Umgeni River flowing off to the right.

We continued our mission, passing numerous locals and enjoying the sights that arose around every bend. Ensuring that we were still near the river and the odd check of the map meant that we were heading in the right direction. The valley became very hot and the pace slowed down towards lunch time. We had a good bite to eat and hydrated well as we spent about an hour under a tree listening to the river flowing next to us and watching the cattle grazing along the banks.

Picture: L-R – Ben Stiller, Oscar Hapgood, Mr Travers Pellew, Jono Stamatis, Murray Hiscock, Mrs Monica Botha, Mr Wayde Peter & Mr Derek Brown. Photo Credits: Sam Cato (back up vehicle driver) Thanks for supporting us on this challenge.

The afternoon saw us pass the Mfula Store and cross onto the other side of the river where there was a long climb that awaited us. There was somewhat of an overgrown area that provided a hair raising moment as our support vehicle almost got stuck. However, we managed to escape trouble and all regrouped at the top of the climb as we enjoyed the beautiful view of the Inanda Dam below. The map showed us the way and we knew that ‘home’ was in sight. We arrived at the Msinisi Inanda Resort at around 5pm and registered 99km on our speedometers. Some team members rode around the campsite to reach that elusive three figure mark. We set up our tents alongside the dam and enjoyed a warm cup of coffee and a few stories from the day. Another bonfire and braai was enjoyed as there were some very hungry and tired cyclists.

Sunday: Inanda Dam to Blue Lagoon Promenade (Durban) – 43km

A relatively relaxed start to the day saw us sipping on early morning coffee and enjoying the sights of birdlife around the dam. There were some aching bodies amongst the team as everyone staggered through the packing and getting the equipment loaded into the vehicle. We knew that a short, predominately downhill day awaited us. We only headed out at around 7:45am and made our way to the dam wall before heading down onto the Inanda Road. This is a scenic road that runs parallel to the Umgeni River, we were moving at a steady rate averaging 20km/h. At about 15km we crossed the river and headed rapidly upwards towards the Qala Quarry before descending down the other side towards Castlehill. After some exploring through the suburbs, we then find ourselves on the M21 road. We followed the M21 road past Springfield Park before finally coming out onto the promenade at Blue Lagoon at around 10:30am. The entire team had accomplished the first ever Treverton2C Cycle Challenge that covered 218km over 3 days. We all had a quick dip in the ocean followed by a well-deserved Wimpy breakfast before heading back to school. We returned to school by 3pm to end another great Treverton weekend adventure.

#thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

Mr Travers Pellew (College Sports Co-ordinator)

“End Meet”

Another online lesson completed… Although I am getting to teach, this is not quite what I had in mind. I have always known I was called to teach. As a much younger version of myself I used to play school all… the… time. My poor cousins were so over it. When they stopped joining in, my teddy bears and dolls would sit diligently through hours of Spelling and Maths lessons. And so started the road to a career that is so much more than a meal ticket.

I have taught in some challenging schools, with up to 60 pupils crowded in a class to hear how Probability works, and then finally God lead me to Treverton. From the moment I arrived here my heart knew that this is a very special place.

In the last 3 years and 5 months I have grown to be quite fond of so many of YOU, pupils both past and present. It is rather a challenge to put words to the emotions I feel, when the time comes to send you all into the BIG WORLD out there. You might not know this, but you become a part of who I am. There are moments when a day simmers to a quiet lull and you are a thought that flutters into my mind. These moments have been sparse in the last while, as I have seldom found even a moment to think in a busy day. Perhaps this was a much needed reset for me to find a time to truly stop and BREATHE…

I was quite comfortable with all the world around me until the lockdown and suddenly I had to take stock of everything I had thought to be “normal”. One of the strangest things to have occurred is that I have never really been distracted by the traffic on the main road outside the school, but since there are no sounds of children on campus this has become so much louder and obvious. It is rather annoying. I miss all of you popping past my class when I sit there working in the afternoons. Quite honestly I have avoided going to my classroom because it does not feel “normal” for the school buildings to be without YOU in them.

The irony is that most of the people I was surrounded by in my younger days would think it “abnormal” that I surround myself with my students; yet YOU not being here is totally “abnormal” to me. I long for your news and smiling faces every day.

Lockdown has really messed with my brain… I can now attest that sunlight dish liquid should not be put in a dishwasher… It results in a very foamy floor wash as it bellows out of your dishwasher… Proof that YOU are what keeps me sane.

A school is nothing more than a random collection of buildings, when the people are not there to fill it. I did not ever intend to sit talking to my computer all day, my internal RAM is taking strain. YOU are missed… See you all soon. #thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

Mrs Theresa Nel (Head of Junior Academics, Maths Literacy and Grade 8)

The seasonal changes on the grasslands of Natal are dramatic and each season has unique beauty. My favourite time of the year is autumn. The leaf colour changes on many of the deciduous trees is elegant and incredibly attractive. The dramatic change from the summer greens to the softer yellows and reds of autumn paint a picture that few artists are able to replicate on canvas. Indeed, few photographs do the matchless beauty of these trees justice. The reflections of the autumn leaves in the images below (taken from the College dam) attempt to capture something of this beauty.

The improved bird watching that comes with autumn is another reason why I enjoy this season so much. With the leaves falling off of the trees, it is much easier to spot and photograph birds. Since I last contributed to the Treverton blog, I have photographed a few new bird species and I am glad to be able to share these with you.

JACKAL BUZZARD

Interestingly, the Jackal Buzzard did not get is name because it resembles a jackal (obviously) but rather because its call is similar to that of a Black-backed Jackal. The Jackal Buzzard is endemic to the Karoo, grasslands and agricultural lands of South Africa. It is a large buzzard with broad wings and a short rounded tail. Most have a rufous or chestnut colour on the chest and white wing coverts on the underwing. It has a black head, back and upper wing coverts. The photographs of the bird below were taken on the rugby poles on the main rugby field.  

BLACK-CAPPED ORIOLE

The Black-capped Oriole is often heard before it is seen and is commonly mistaken for a Yellow Weaver. The Black-capped Oriole is larger than a weaver and has a distinct black head, neck and central-breast. Most of the body is a striking yellow with some olive-green on the mantle and upper-wing coverts. It is a common resident of forests, forest edges and in invasive woodlands. It is commonly heard and seen on the trees between Harland and Jonsson Housemaster’s residences.

CARDINAL WOODPECKER

A small woodpecker with a streaks on its belly and breast, and distinct bars on its back. It generally has a white face. Both sexes have a black moustache type line. The male has a red crown and the female (pictured below) has a black crown. This woodpecker has a wide distribution and is found in both forests and bushveld. The bird pictured below had chased the Southern Black Tit (pictured previously) away from its meal on a stinkwood tree near Campbell boarding house.   

SPOTTED EAGLE OWL

This is the most common large owl with a range distribution throughout Southern Africa. It is a grey bird with a finely barred belly and flanks and yellow eyes. Its features are similar to that of the Cape Eagle Owl. There is a pair of Spotted Eagle Owls living in the gums below the Treverton College dam wall. They are startled easily and are, therefore, a challenge to photograph. 

SOUTHERN BLACK TIT

This mostly black bird with white edges to the wings and tail is a common resident in forest and broad-leafed woodlands. It generally eats a variety of invertebrates, fruit and nectar.

AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK (GYMNOGENE)

The African Harrier-Hawk is a large broad-winged Hawk with a small head and clumsy flying style.  The adult (pictured below) is grey on top with fine barring on the breast and a bare yellow face. Interestingly, the face changes colour to red when agitated. The hawk uses its long legs to hang upside down and reach into cavities or nests to prey on eggs or young birds. It also eats larger birds, small mammals and reptiles. This large hawk is often seen soaring over the campus or perched in a pine tree or gum tree.

BUFF-STREAKED CHAT

The male Buff-Streaked Chat, pictured below, has a beautiful light brown breast with a striking black face, throat and wings. Some varieties have a whitish head strap and wing bar (the individual in the picture below did not have a white head strap). This is an endemic bird (found in north-eastern South Africa) and is generally found on rock strewn slopes. The individual pictured below was found near the College pool.

#thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

Mr Shaun Robertson (Physical Science – College)

Teaching during this lockdown period has brought a new appreciation to the importance of school. We are lucky enough to have the means to continue with our syllabus but it is evident that the classroom is an ideal learning environment.

Some learners find the online learning process exciting and they flourish, while for others it is an extremely daunting experience. When a student has a sound knowledge of the subject matter they are able to work independently and with little stress, but when new concepts are introduced some might feel overwhelmed and need that extra support. In a classroom situation, learners have the ability to ask questions freely and know that they will get the help that they require. That face-to-face contact and time spent together ‘tackling’ a challenging concept is not the same as trying to explain via tests or video meetings. Some learners do not reach out and seek the help that they need when learning online as they feel that it is their responsibility to teach themselves. There are many new skills that have had to be developed while trying to continue to get through the work that has been set.

As a teacher, this has been a roller-coaster experience. At times it has felt quite overwhelming but then fellow staff members step in and offer advice or tools that they have found to make the process a little bit easier. With each week that passes, I feel as if I have grown in my own abilities and developed a few new teaching skills.

While online learning has its benefits and integrating technology into the learning process is important, it can never replace the warmth and experiences gained in a classroom. Seeing the smiles on my pupils faces, being able to laugh together and create new memories is something that I will never take for granted. I look forward to the days when we can be together again.  #thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

Miss Carly Smith (Grade 7 Teacher)

World Environment Day is celebrated on 5 June every year, and is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of our environment.  Our Earth Care College Environmental Committee mark the day #thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

 

 

 

Lockdown, LOCKDOWN!  A scary, somewhat terrifying thought, I felt unsteady emotionally at the announcement that we were to stay at home for an indefinite period of time and to take it very seriously.  However, I soon realised the blessing that this has meant for me, personally.  I was at home in the place that I love being in, my safe spot, my haven.  I could spend time doing things I usually put off, I could work in the garden, I got to spend special times with my older son, Pete, who had come to stay with us from Johannesburg for Lockdown.  In short, I thanked God for this time of peace and tranquility in the midst of all the doubt and tension around me.   Then the end of the holiday period arrived, and I began frantically to prepare for the start-up of the new term in a much different way, distance learning via emails to parents, videos and WhatsApp chats.  To say that I got myself in a spin would be an understatement.  I doubted myself hugely, was convinced I couldn’t do it, was sure the Grade R parents might not feel their children’s learning needs would be met.  And yet I started the term, along with all the other Prep teachers, and with the Lord’s help through daily prayer and petition to help me, I began to get into the routine and swing of doing things differently.  There is still a special connection between myself and the Grade R children, and we enjoy sending each other videos, photos and chatting now and then about our activities through the week.  However, the connection is keener, because we miss each other and realise the value of our relationship through not seeing each other.  Each video or message that comes to our phones to or from one another is a moment of excitement and connection.  This Lockdown has brought with it many blessings, including personal growth, for which I will be eternally thankful.

#thetrevertonexperience www.treverton.co.za

Mrs Linda Reynolds (Grade R Teacher)