Yolandi Smit29 June 2023
Yolandi Smit’s life and memories are uniquely woven into Curro’s humble beginnings. She joined the school in January 1999 as a Grade 4 learner, when classes were still held at a church in Durbanville and was part of the initial group of learners to attend class in the first building. ‘A photo on the Curro Alumni website shows children playing on concrete pipes; I am the girl right at the top in the black pants.’
The day that photo was taken is imprinted in Yolandi’s memory clearly. She remembers how she and her classmates played in the trees and how there were no other buildings in sight. ‘We each had the opportunity to lay a brick as part of the construction of the first building.’
When the church was not available, they would have class around Dr Chris van der Merwe’s dining room table. ‘During recess we would play on the field opposite the church,’ she remembers, ‘and when we built small boats in Technology, we tested them in Dr Chris’s swimming pool.’ She fondly recalls the school’s first whole-school outing: There were only 60 learners in the school and they went to Ratanga Junction wearing matching T-shirts.
Some other firsts she remembers are the drummies team, athletics days at Blue Downs Sports Stadium and Bellville Velodrome and the concert held at the Kraaifontein town hall. She also remembers being a ‘popper’ during the school’s attempt at the Guinness World Record for the largest box of popcorn.
The relationships built during Yolandi’s school career had a lasting impact on her life. She is still close friends with many of her teachers and classmates. ‘Each learner was important to the teachers as well as the school; they made us feel loved, respected and important.’ These relationships helped teachers to guide learners as individuals and created a lasting sense of belonging. ‘Being part of the Curro family creates a bond that lasts forever; it cannot be explained to anyone else.’
Yolandi’s mother, Arina Boshoff, had always been a great role model for her. Arina was an aftercare teacher at Curro (in the church), which is why Yolandi initially joined the school – and where her love for children and education originated. After a few years as a hospital administrator at Mediclinic, she decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps by becoming an aftercare teacher at Curro Durbanville. ‘I was honoured to work at the school of which I am so proud and that meant so much to me. I have always felt at home there.’
Her time as an aftercare teacher showed her that she made the right decision in shifting careers. After furthering her studies, she started working as a morning teacher at Curro Rosen Castle. She became the designated person to take prospective parents on a school tour. Her personal experience as a Curro learner and the lasting impact the school had on her life, was greatly inspirational to parents. ‘I grew so much as a person and as a teacher,’ she said.
After passing her studies at Embury College with several distinctions she accepted a job as a preschool teacher at another school in the northern suburbs of Cape Town. She works closely with the principal to manage the school and helps with their marketing and finances. ‘I will always be grateful to Curro for my incredible education. I believe that the school prepared me for the workplace and contributed to the person, teacher and leader I am today.’
Her advice for current learners is to grab every opportunity provided by the school. ‘You are part of a great legacy; appreciate it. Attend all the functions, participate in all activities, and remember that you have a great advantage in being part of Curro. It was a dream of Dr Chris; a dream that seemed so big, but he believed in himself and turned it into a reality. Now we have a wonderful foundation and amazing stories upon which we can build our own dreams.’