On 22 January 1956 the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood decided to turn an old wood-and-iron house in Pinetown into a tiny school with only 32 pupils. This was the humble beginning of an educational facility that has grown to become a flourishing school in the area, with a present enrolment of 430 students.
Sister Pia Jacobs and her successors did not hesitate to take on the task of building a well-equipped Primary and High school. Here boys and girls would be introduced to academic, artistic, musical and sporting excellence and would be invited to allow their seeds of faith to unfold in a Catholic environment, nurtured by scripture classes and a multitude of spiritual adventures. Tragically in November 1971, a fire swept through the school, destroying many classrooms in the Primary School. Not dampening their spirits, temporary classrooms were found at Gelofte Skool and the Parent-Teacher Association under the chairmanship of Mr Chris Phillips undertook the task of rebuilding the school. In a great spirit of solidarity with the Sisters and loyalty to the school, the classrooms were rebuilt over the Christmas holidays. The new classrooms were ready for use in the new school year of January 1972.
Sister Clair Wade, who became the Principal in 1990, and her staff went a step further in intensifying the educational endeavours. “Whole Brain Learning”, with the emphasis on acknowledging the seven intelligences became the chosen learning and teaching strategy. Now the students could discover and proudly show their strengths in more than the language or numeric areas. Music, creativity, bodily movement, interpersonal abilities and self-knowledge were all incorporated into the daily events of a subject. Another challenge for the school, as with all schools in South Africa, was the advent of Outcomes Based Education in 1997. Staff, accepting this challenge set by the Department of Education, went about learning new skills so that they would be ready to implement Outcomes Based Education. Together with Whole Brain Learning and Outcomes Based Education, the school strived for a holistic education so that students could develop fully, living up to Jesus’ words in John 10:10, “I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
In 1998 the first Lay Principal, Carol Spence, re-opened the high school, which had been closed in 1977 owing to a shortage of religious staff and the unfavourable economic climate. St Benedict School was privileged to have Anne MacLean as principal from 2000. Her enthusiasm, dedication, commitment and passion for music impacted on many areas of school life. Arthur Hill joined the school as Principal in April 2002 and, with his many years of experience in education, continued to shape the future of the school in a unique way. In 2009, Francois Louis stepped in as Principal of the High School. As leader of a capable team of educators, they continue to dream and forge forward…
For many years, this non-racial school has been a step ahead of many other schools in South Africa. It has accepted children from all walks of life. It provides quality education at the lowest possible cost and challenges children to become the future Christian leaders of South Africa, able to think and reason independently and to work together as a rainbow student body. St Benedict School lives up to its patron’s ideal that everyone is special in God’s eyes and deserves to be respected, loved and cared for by a community of equals and friends.
To read more, go to: www.stbenedictschool.co.za or call the school under +27 31 702 6989