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Get to know Director & Principal Yandiswa Xhakaza

Yandiswa Xhakaza, UCT Online High School's Director and Principal, answers a few questions so we can get to know her better!

Intro:

I like to think of myself as a lion and not a lioness. The lioness has to work hard, she hunts for food and takes care of the cubs. The lion, on the other hand, preserves his energy, is always ready to attack (work smart, not hard) and when the day arrives, you best believe that the lion will tear the attacker apart. The lion shows up when necessary and shows up big. That's me in a nutshell.


Q: What would learners be surprised to find out about you?

A: That I played for my high school's netball team. It was the F-Team and I insisted that my dad watches all my terrible matches. I was also in the school choir, though I actually cannot sing. I played hockey and can't even remember the rules of the game. I learnt to swim for the very first time at the age of 14. I just always pushed myself and tried new things even if I was terrible at them.


Q: If you were trapped on a deserted island what’s the one thing you couldn’t live without?

A: I am torn between water and a blanket. I love the warmth and being cosy but I also wouldn't want to die, so water.


Q: What meal/dish can you cook to perfection? And are you willing to share the recipe?

A: It's African cuisine called umngqusho, which my grandmother taught me through observation. There are many variations of making umngqusho, it's not a step-by-step "science", it's an art. So, I can't share a recipe, you have to watch it to learn it.


Q: What’s your favourite book, movie and song? 

A: Book:  Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - I loved the fullness of her life with all its detours and harsh experiences. Elizabeth Gilbert rises above each one of those experiences to meet herself on the other side. It's a wholesome book of self-care and self-discovery. Loved it!


Movie: The Great Debaters, it's not just Denzel Washington's mastery in his craft, the story is a moving story of aspiration, resilience, brilliance, possibilities and it is just so masterfully crafted, every word uttered resonates with the spirit of the human soul. Oh, man! I would watch it a million times over. Oh! Oprah Winfrey is the Producer of the movie and she's quite phenomenal in her storytelling.


Song: Mandisi Dyantyisi's song from his new album Cwaka called, Ndiyakholwa. It is an amazing song to lift one's spirit. He is an amazingly talented Musician.


Q: If you could pass on any wisdom to your learners, what would you share?

A: We don't see things as they are we see them as we are. Our world view is informed by our own lived experiences, which can be limited or confined to our little family, neighbourhood or culture. Put differently, how we were raised informs how we navigate the world, either as a safe or dangerous place and depending on your perspective. This can either limit your life or expand it, seek expansion by all means necessary.


Q: The best advice you’ve ever been given?

A: You can be anything you want to be and I believed it, never looked back since.


Q: How do you show your school spirit?

A: School spirit in an online environment is always tricky as physical connection is limited. Our school song is what unifies us as a school at this present moment, and there will be many other aspects of the school that unify us soon, for now jamming to the amazing, We own the Future is what makes us UCT Online High School.


Q: What’s the best thing about being the Director and Principal of UCT Online High School?

A: I get to shape and inform the culture of the school, its values and practices. I have the important responsibility to speak over 5000 lives and hope to impart love, care, kindness and meaningful values that will be useful tools to navigate life in all of its complexity and that is a responsibility I do not take for granted.


Q: Why should guardians and learners be open to online schooling?

A: It is a sure sign of "moving with the times"; economic revolutions happen and very few people become early adopters, and early adopters will always have the first-mover advantage above others in all spheres of their lives. Online learning is symbolic of a global shift in education as we know it and being at the forefront of this change simply means we are pioneers and will learn faster than the rest.


Q: If you weren’t the Director and Principal of UCT Online High School what would you do?

A: I would be working with parents and children in some way, shape or form. I wouldn't want to be doing anything that does not involve children and parents. Particularly because I am so passionate about children, and teenagers specifically, as they are often underserved and misunderstood. 


Q: What’s your favourite way to be active?

A: A morning or afternoon jog.


Q: What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

A: Leaving the classroom as a teacher to expand my territory and see what else is out there and I am so grateful I took that step even though I couldn't see the whole staircase, it was a move in the right direction as I have come to learn that I am a macro person and not a micro person.


Q: What makes you laugh?

A: Silly jokes, I love to laugh, I am the kind of laugher that has tears rolling down my face. I laugh at my own jokes before I have even finished telling them and keep everyone in suspense, hoping they will find the joke funny when I eventually finish telling it. 


Q: If you could invite 4 famous people to dinner, who would you invite and why?

A: Bob Marley, Shaka Zulu, Steve Biko and Paulo Freire. I consider them to have been great minds of their time, strategists, humanitarians and humans who had reached levels of consciousness well above their peers. I consider them to have changed the world both at the periphery and the centre. 


Q: If you were a superhero, what would be your superpower?

A: To be the silver lining in every storm.


Q: What was your favourite subject in high school?

A: English. I love languages and the varied ways language allows us to communicate the intricate details of our lives and how we perceive the world.


Q: What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

A: I would get my pilot licence. 


Q: Any advice on how to cope with stress and anxiety?

A: Breath! Nothing is worth your peace of mind, you cannot be productive if you are stressed and anxious. Stress steals away from us the beauty of mundane everyday life. Don't overwhelm yourself with unnecessary clutter and commitments. Uphold your boundaries and don't hang out with people who make you feel undervalued and disrespected. Take it easy, the world is not going to stop because you took a break to just breathe and recalibrate. 


Q: Why education as a career path?

A: Education is one of the most fundamental tools used to construct society, basic education is the pipeline of adult humans that will inhabit our society. It is through education that we instil social values and disciplines, social norms and standards are introduced through education. Education socialises populations not just with skills but with values and behaviours and I want to be a part of a movement that shapes society.


Q: What’s your ideal studying environment?

A: A quiet space with a big window where I can see the garden, white walls and lots of books around.


Intro:

I like to think of myself as a lion and not a lioness. The lioness has to work hard, she hunts for food and takes care of the cubs. The lion, on the other hand, preserves his energy, is always ready to attack (work smart, not hard) and when the day arrives, you best believe that the lion will tear the attacker apart. The lion shows up when necessary and shows up big. That's me in a nutshell.


Q: What would learners be surprised to find out about you?

A: That I played for my high school's netball team. It was the F-Team and I insisted that my dad watches all my terrible matches. I was also in the school choir, though I actually cannot sing. I played hockey and can't even remember the rules of the game. I learnt to swim for the very first time at the age of 14. I just always pushed myself and tried new things even if I was terrible at them.


Q: If you were trapped on a deserted island what’s the one thing you couldn’t live without?

A: I am torn between water and a blanket. I love the warmth and being cosy but I also wouldn't want to die, so water.


Q: What meal/dish can you cook to perfection? And are you willing to share the recipe?

A: It's African cuisine called umngqusho, which my grandmother taught me through observation. There are many variations of making umngqusho, it's not a step-by-step "science", it's an art. So, I can't share a recipe, you have to watch it to learn it.


Q: What’s your favourite book, movie and song? 

A: Book:  Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - I loved the fullness of her life with all its detours and harsh experiences. Elizabeth Gilbert rises above each one of those experiences to meet herself on the other side. It's a wholesome book of self-care and self-discovery. Loved it!


Movie: The Great Debaters, it's not just Denzel Washington's mastery in his craft, the story is a moving story of aspiration, resilience, brilliance, possibilities and it is just so masterfully crafted, every word uttered resonates with the spirit of the human soul. Oh, man! I would watch it a million times over. Oh! Oprah Winfrey is the Producer of the movie and she's quite phenomenal in her storytelling.


Song: Mandisi Dyantyisi's song from his new album Cwaka called, Ndiyakholwa. It is an amazing song to lift one's spirit. He is an amazingly talented Musician.


Q: If you could pass on any wisdom to your learners, what would you share?

A: We don't see things as they are we see them as we are. Our world view is informed by our own lived experiences, which can be limited or confined to our little family, neighbourhood or culture. Put differently, how we were raised informs how we navigate the world, either as a safe or dangerous place and depending on your perspective. This can either limit your life or expand it, seek expansion by all means necessary.


Q: The best advice you’ve ever been given?

A: You can be anything you want to be and I believed it, never looked back since.


Q: How do you show your school spirit?

A: School spirit in an online environment is always tricky as physical connection is limited. Our school song is what unifies us as a school at this present moment, and there will be many other aspects of the school that unify us soon, for now jamming to the amazing, We own the Future is what makes us UCT Online High School.


Q: What’s the best thing about being the Director and Principal of UCT Online High School?

A: I get to shape and inform the culture of the school, its values and practices. I have the important responsibility to speak over 5000 lives and hope to impart love, care, kindness and meaningful values that will be useful tools to navigate life in all of its complexity and that is a responsibility I do not take for granted.


Q: Why should guardians and learners be open to online schooling?

A: It is a sure sign of "moving with the times"; economic revolutions happen and very few people become early adopters, and early adopters will always have the first-mover advantage above others in all spheres of their lives. Online learning is symbolic of a global shift in education as we know it and being at the forefront of this change simply means we are pioneers and will learn faster than the rest.


Q: If you weren’t the Director and Principal of UCT Online High School what would you do?

A: I would be working with parents and children in some way, shape or form. I wouldn't want to be doing anything that does not involve children and parents. Particularly because I am so passionate about children, and teenagers specifically, as they are often underserved and misunderstood. 


Q: What’s your favourite way to be active?

A: A morning or afternoon jog.


Q: What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

A: Leaving the classroom as a teacher to expand my territory and see what else is out there and I am so grateful I took that step even though I couldn't see the whole staircase, it was a move in the right direction as I have come to learn that I am a macro person and not a micro person.


Q: What makes you laugh?

A: Silly jokes, I love to laugh, I am the kind of laugher that has tears rolling down my face. I laugh at my own jokes before I have even finished telling them and keep everyone in suspense, hoping they will find the joke funny when I eventually finish telling it. 


Q: If you could invite 4 famous people to dinner, who would you invite and why?

A: Bob Marley, Shaka Zulu, Steve Biko and Paulo Freire. I consider them to have been great minds of their time, strategists, humanitarians and humans who had reached levels of consciousness well above their peers. I consider them to have changed the world both at the periphery and the centre. 


Q: If you were a superhero, what would be your superpower?

A: To be the silver lining in every storm.


Q: What was your favourite subject in high school?

A: English. I love languages and the varied ways language allows us to communicate the intricate details of our lives and how we perceive the world.


Q: What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

A: I would get my pilot licence. 


Q: Any advice on how to cope with stress and anxiety?

A: Breath! Nothing is worth your peace of mind, you cannot be productive if you are stressed and anxious. Stress steals away from us the beauty of mundane everyday life. Don't overwhelm yourself with unnecessary clutter and commitments. Uphold your boundaries and don't hang out with people who make you feel undervalued and disrespected. Take it easy, the world is not going to stop because you took a break to just breathe and recalibrate. 


Q: Why education as a career path?

A: Education is one of the most fundamental tools used to construct society, basic education is the pipeline of adult humans that will inhabit our society. It is through education that we instil social values and disciplines, social norms and standards are introduced through education. Education socialises populations not just with skills but with values and behaviours and I want to be a part of a movement that shapes society.


Q: What’s your ideal studying environment?

A: A quiet space with a big window where I can see the garden, white walls and lots of books around.


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