“A change is as good as a holiday”, my late mother used to say.
In its 29 years of existence, the Natural Learning Academy has seen many changes happen. The Academy, which started out as an art centre to which surrounding schools would outsource Visual Arts as subject, has evolved into a fully independent art-focused school. Over the years we have adapted to our students’ needs and have incorporated subjects such as Mathematics, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Hospitality Studies, Dramatic Arts and recently isiXhosa.
These changes called for a new school name and in 2005 the Mills Street Art School thus became Natural Learning Academy to reflect the well-rounded education that the school now offered. “Natural Learning” is a psychological concept that is used to explain different individuals’ propensities to recognise different patterns in learning material. Each of us therefore has a unique approach to learning and should be taught accordingly. Individualised education is therefore the mainstay of NLA.
A more recent change was the incorporation of Dramatic Arts as subject at the school. We were privileged to have Stefan Erasmus, 2017 Fiesta Best Actor, as the pioneer of this exciting venture. Stefan led the Drama department for three years and our students excelled under his guidance. In 2018, NLA took part for the first time in the Helderberg School Drama Festival with a play written and directed by Stefan – The Age of Nahara. Stefan and the students won several awards, including gold for acting, directing and best script. Stefan has left to pursue his acting career and we wish him the best of luck. At the beginning of this year we welcomed a new fantastic Drama and Design teacher, Marelize Visagie. Our Drama students regularly attend performances and will also be attending performances at the annual Woordfees in Stellenbosch.
Another new and exciting development is the addition of isiXhosa First Additional Language and Second Additional Language to the school’s repertoire of language subjects. Teacher Victoria Ndinga has cultivated much enthusiasm for the subject ever since she joined the school in the third term of last year. Victoria also teaches isiXhosa to our grade 7 – 9 students as an enrichment subject and assists mother tongue isiXhosa students with other subjects.
The most phenomenal of all developments would be to have my daughter, Maria de Villiers, succeed me as the new manager and headmaster of the school. Maria’s fresh insights and excellent management skills allow me the opportunity to pursue what I love and enjoy most – helping students and teachers with academic work. It is such a privilege to have this opportunity.
Through all these changes and developments, one thing will remain constant and that is NLA’s educational philosophy based on our motto: A balanced life comes first. Here at NLA we value a balance between academic work and all other qualities that students need to become well rounded young adults and to reach their full potential.