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ST TERESA’S PRIMARY SCHOOL, SCHAUDERVILLE

Perhaps the history of St Teresa’s, Schauderville, has to begin with St Teresa’s in North End.

On 9th June 1914, Bishop MacSherry asked the Assumption Sisters to take over this school formerly run by Miss Daly at North End. It received no grant or government aid. In the early days it served the white community of North End. Then in 1934 Assumption Convent, Sydenham, was opened and gradually most of these children moved there.

From the beginning of 1935 the Assumption Sisters had been trying to obtain a plot of land in Korsten, which had been proclaimed an area for “coloured” settlement, realising that there would be a need for a school there. However, this attempt did not go smoothly or speedily, so on 8th October 1935, the school at North End was opened as a coloured school. It opened with over 40 children which by December increased to 78 – all Catholics. It was met with a great deal of opposition from the local non-Catholic white population who were keen to have the school closed down.

Sr Catherine Byrne was one of the first Sisters on the staff and, according to Mr D Allie, “She was a person revered and loved by all who knew her for her unfailing kindness, love, sincerity and unbounding energy”. Sister Catherine was assisted by Mrs Brutus, mother of the brilliant anti-apartheid leader and poet, Denis Brutus.

When Korsten was declared a coloured area, all the coloured families began to move there and finally, towards the end of 1939, the Assumption Sisters decided to build a room that would temporarily serve as both Church and school. The Sisters borrowed the necessary money and the building, standing like a huge “shoe-box” on the highest point in the township, became the beginning of St Teresa’s Primary School, named after, and following in the good tradition of the old school in North End. The Sisters who set it on its feet were Sr Agnes Boyle, Sr Catherine Byrne, Sr Ethna Dalton, Sr Paul Keane.

There was a great demand for places in the school and an equally great lack of equipment, so the Sisters had to improvise and try to teach as best they could.

In 1940 a second storey was added. Bishop Colbert had asked the Sisters to care for orphans as well, so the Sisters and the children slept on the second storey. (These children were orphans originally, then committed children, then boarders.) The single large ground floor room or hall served as classrooms during the week and from November 1940 to 1947 as a Church on Sundays and during School holidays. Building of the church was completed in August 1948 which meant that the one large school room could be divided into classrooms.

Meanwhile the numbers in the school were increasing and the classes had gone as far as Standard 8. This meant that provision had to be made for two distinct divisions – Primary and Secondary. As the numbers continued to increase each year, it was decided in 1950 that boarders could no longer be kept. This left the second storey of the building free to be used for classrooms. The Primary school occupied the top storey and part of the ground floor while the Secondary division was housed in two classrooms of the same floor.

Every effort was made to get a Government Grant for the Primary school. On the first Friday of October 1953, which was also the feast of St Teresa, a letter from the department of Education confirmed that the school would receive a Government Grant. The primary school was registered as St Teresa’s Primary School, the name it originally had at North End. Needless to say, this was a cause of great rejoicing and the community joined in fervent to God. New equipment arrived very soon; altogether 178 dual desks came within three days. Naturally, Sr Josepha, the Principal was delighted.

The school could now engage additional staff – Sr Josepha remained principal and the staff members were Sr Thérèse Dalton, Mr J Baatjies, Mr B Adamson, Mr D Anthony, Mr D Adriaan and Mrs Potgieter. By 1963 the staff had increased to 15 teachers and by 1993 St Teresa’s had a staff of 25 teachers, all of whom are remembered for their dedication and loyalty.

On Sr Josepha’s retirement, Sr Vianney took over the principalship of the school, and Sr Vianney was in turn succeeded by Mr D Allie, in 1973. Great credit is due to Mr Allie for his untiring zeal in consolidating and expanding the scope of the school. Sr Thérèse, the last Assumption Sister to teach in St Teresa’s, continued to teach there until her retirement in 1973. She is affectionately remembered by quite a few generations of past pupils and is always very happy to meet them. Mr Allie was succeeded in 1990 by Mr K Perils under whose gifted leadership the school continued to flourish. On his retirement he was succeeded by Mr R Sauls.

From the initial enrolment of 150 pupils, the school by 2001 had an enrolment of 650 pupils. Due to the very dedicated teachers, the work has always been of a high standard and St Teresa’s can be proud of its achievements. It has produced its quota of secondary and primary school teachers, nurses, technicians, religious vocations, clerks filling responsible positions in businesses and banks etc.