FOCUS ON EXCELLENCE | TITANS
by Ilse Ferreira
Reluctant makes for a Risen Start
Rising to the top is not for every educator. But Gloria Loggenberg set her sights on the top position and this school principal is reaping the rewards of many hours of work and effort she expended to further her career. She was recognised as the 2013 Lifetime Achiever at the Most Influential Women (MIW) in Business and Government Awards, a crowning achievement that she is proud of.
Yet, she never intended to become an educator. “Growing up, I always wanted to be a personal assistant to the CEO of a large corporation,” Loggenberg explains. But her father insisted that she complete a teacher’s training course. He was so adamant that he even filled in the application form himself and ‘deposited’ her with the rector of the teaching college on the day her course started! She admits to having felt really embarrassed. But now, years later, she is quite happy with her career and, upon reflection, would not have had it otherwise.
Would she change careers? “No, it is probably too late for that,” she thinks aloud; yet, she confesses that she would have liked to have been an entrepreneur and create jobs for other people. She mentions a small linen and towelling company… Loggenberg laughs when she thinks back on being a mom and a career woman. Her children are already grown up, the youngest being 28 now. But, even as children and when she was still in charge of ‘Mom’s Taxi’, she says that they made her task easier by being supportive of her. Nowadays, they are still very much a part of her life, and, though her daughters live in Cape Town and she and her husband reside in Port Elizabeth, they visit as often as possible.
Loggenberg admits that the education system has need of many inputs, that challenges in this field remain to be addressed, and that many problems remain to be solved. “My biggest challenge at the moment is to raise funds to pay my educators,” she explains. She says that four of her staff retired at the end of 2013 and that their positions have still not been filled. Further frustration is caused by staff being on sick leave for indefinite periods of time and the school having to run on a smaller number of educators than it needs to function effectively. Apart from these obstacles, she mentions that, being a no-fee school, the school cannot collect fees from learners. It therefore remains a mammoth task just to have an educator in front of each class.
Lack of cooperation on the part of parents is another challenge. “In order for education to be effective, it needs to stand on three legs: the parent, the learner and the educator, and, if one of these legs is crippled, a crippled learner will be sent out into the community – something that will have a long-term effect not just on the community but also on the country’s economy.” Despite these and many other hurdles that she has to overcome daily, Loggenberg remains passionate about her job and about her learners. Having been recognised for her dedication to her work at the MIW Awards last year has, she says, added to her career fulfilment.
“Being an educator inspires me every morning to get up with joy in my heart and go to school to perform my duties to the best of my abilities and to strive continuously to do more for the learners and the educators entrusted to my care.” She says that organisations and churches are increasingly inviting her to their events as a motivational speaker, and, sometimes, she is also invited to be a guest speaker at functions of other schools.
Although she does not yet have a platform within businesses to give motivational talks, she is confident that this will happen in time. When it does, she points out, it will enable her to reach ever further in terms of bringing the message of the challenges in education into the workplace, which is, after all, why children receive an education.
The fact that she never envisioned becoming an educator still makes her smile today. Yet, she was more than happy while climbing the ladder to her current position as principal of Arcadia Primary School in Port Elizabeth. She supplemented her initial training with a BTech degree in education management, which set her firmly on the path to the top. “We are in a partnership with the parents, although that remains difficult – not all parents are committed to their children’s education in a way that makes them [the parents] part of the everyday education experience. Thus we also have to educate the parents on matters pertaining not just to schooling, but also on issues like ethics and respect for others,” Loggenberg explains.
She acknowledges that hard work and dedication are some factors in the mix of what it takes for a woman to reach the pinnacle of her career. But family support is also crucial, she says, for no one can go it alone, and, especially, no woman who is also a mother. “There are those times when you cannot be with your children, even though you want to be… and having an understanding and supportive husband, and, in later years, the support and understanding of my daughters, was what made it all possible.”
And the road ahead? She remains positive about education, despite the hurdles and challenges. “Our learners are keen to learn and get ahead. They have heard the message that education will lead to being able to live a better life. And we aim to assist them in this quest, which is a fundamental right for every learner in our country.”
As to life after retirement? She is already active in women’s fellowship in her church and busies herself with hobbies like cooking, baking, flower arranging and candlewicking, when she finds the time. Retirement, however, will simply mean more time for the leisurely pursuit of these hobbies – and perhaps visiting her daughters more often!