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Head of Junior Primary - Wendy Ross

After 15 years of growing and learning Wendy Ross takes the reins as St Mary’s DSG, Kloof Junior Primary (JP) Head from the start of 2019. Wendy joined the St Mary’s family in 2004 as a Grade 3 teacher. She then moved to Grade R in order to gain experience as this was, until then, the only JP grade that she hadn’t taught. While teaching Grade R, Wendy was made Senior Teacher and in 2012 she was promoted to JP Head of Department (HOD). In this post Wendy was a specialist teacher teaching Afrikaans and Religious Education (RE). From the beginning of 2017 RE was taught by class teachers and Wendy started teaching the Thinking Skills Programme.

Thinking Skills has been Wendy’s favourite subject to teach because it is new and she initiated it. The excitement is tangible as Wendy describes it “Thinking Skills is about preparing St Mary’s girls for a different world, a world where we will need innovators, thinkers and problem-solvers. We do more than just teach skills as we prepare girls for the future. I love the way that the lessons change and adjust according to the class and the engagement. We cover a range of topics from Emotional Intelligence (EQ), self-esteem, self-control and bullying. It is such fun to teach!”

During Wendy’s time at St Mary’s she has been fortunate to attend Growth Mindset courses through Thinking Schools South Africa, a Thinking Skills Workshop, Anxiety and Autism Workshops, six ISASA (Independent Schools Association of South Africa) Deputy Heads Conferences, Global Leadership Summit which is world-class leadership training, numerous talks and presentations, school visits, a Conflict Management course, two Aspiring Heads conferences and a South African Girls Schools Conference. Wendy loves attending courses, workshops and conferences on an ongoing basis as she aims to continually grow and learn. Before St Mary’s Wendy studied a Bachelor of Primary Education at Edgewood College and then taught at Kloof Junior Primary.

As a St Mary’s parent Wendy believes that the school has given her daughters an incredible gift. Wendy’s daughters, Tayla (Class of 2014) and Jordyn (Class of 2018), are completely different children; they have both done so well and are remarkable women in their own rights. “St Mary’s has been an incredible foundation and being a part of the St Mary’s family as a parent has been amazing. As a staff member St Mary’s has grown me and encouraged me to try new things. They (the management team) have taught me that it is okay to fail and that your self-worth is not defined by results.” Wendy has grown from a class teacher to a phase leader and now Head and that is because St Mary’s believed in her and saw something in her that she didn’t know yet. “I love the feeling of belonging and connectiveness , making people feel of worth, it has been such a privilege, this is what St Mary’s means to me” says Wendy. Networking and visiting other schools, calling other Deputy Heads around the country friends and learning from them and the amazing JP Staff have been invaluable.

Wendy has been married to Rob, a Divisional Managing Director at Southey Contractors, for 24 years and they have lived in the Upper Highway Area for as long.  Rob, Wendy, Tayla and Jordyn are an incredibly close family who love spending time together. Wendy adds that she “couldn’t ask for a more wonderful and supportive husband and treasure the special relationship I have with my two girls!”

In her spare time she loves reading, photography, travelling and trying new recipes in the kitchen together with Rob. Wendy always reads two books at a time, one for pure pleasure and one for inspiration. At the moment she is juggling a book written by renowned psychologist Brene Brown and a Lesley Pearce novel.  The Ross family love to holiday in Knysna, this being Wendy’s most favourite place in the world! They are happiest when there is water around and admit that they choose not to holiday in the bush. They love to paddle board, boat and Rob enjoys his fishing. The two smallest members of the family, who are “in charge of the house”, are Yorkshire Terriers called Chelsea and Teddy.

Wendy has treasured her friendship with Wendy Laatz as they have travelled their professional journey together, growing and guiding onen aother. Wendy describes her as a calming friend who always listened and added value. They look forward to staying connected as they both take the next steps in their careers. School Chaplin, Caitlin Barnes, has been an inspiration to Wendy and she and her family look forward to Sundays at Westpoint Church, led by Caitlin and her husband, Brian.

As Wendy steps up in to her new position as Head of JP on the retirement of Carolyn Cuthbertson she reminisces on her time working with Carolyn. “Carolyn saw my potential; she encouraged and exposed me and shared lots which helped get me to this point of being ready. She trusted me and included me. She put me in a position to grow as an individual and is incredibly supportive of me as a person and as a mom and wife.”

 “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” is a saying that resonates with Wendy. This reminds her to “dare greatly” (Bene Brown) on a personal level as she prepares to lead, for the girls as they are always growing and learning and this encourages them to remain curious, and finally for the parents as they put their faith in to the staff of St Mary’s to be a part of their daughters journey. Wendy believes wholeheartedly that St Mary’s encourages one to take that first step whether it results in a failure or a success as everything is an opportunity to learn and grow.

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