oa Litnet Akademies : 'n Joernaal vir die Geesteswetenskappe, Natuurwetenskappe, Regte en Godsdienswetenskappe - 'n Positiewe profiel van 'n buitengewone hoofmeisie as rolmodel : Emme-Lancia Veronique Faro van die Sekondêre Meisieskool Oranje : geesteswetenskappe

Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1995-5928



Die behoefte aan suksesvolle rolmodelle vir skoolleiers in die sukkelende Suid-Afrikaanse onderrigstelsel dien as begronding van en motivering vir hierdie studie. In hierdie navorsing is waarderende onderhoude met ses onderwysers en sewe leerders van die Christelike en Nasionale Sekondêre Meisieskool Oranje gevoer om 'n profiel van Emme-Lancia Veronique Faro - 'n buitengewone voormalige hoofmeisie van die skool - saam te stel. Sewe positiewe temas is uit die onderhoude geïdentifiseer wat gesamentlik die positiewe kern van haar leierskap en termyn as hoofmeisie van die skool verteenwoordig. Hierdie temas word aangebied as haar nalatenskap aan huidige en toekomstige skoolleiers.

There is a growing crisis in the South African education system. Bloch (2009:17) describes this grim situation as follows:
There is no shortage of evidence showing how badly the South African education system is performing. International comparisons evaluating literacy, numeracy and science ability clearly show that South African children are not getting it. [...] There is no doubt that is something that needs to be put to rights. Education is the key to growing the skills required in a cut-throat competitive world - the skill to design, plan and implement the changes we need to go forward as a great nation.
One of his suggestions for improvement is to identify successful learners as role models for other learners, "to act as an anchor in making decisions about what is possible in life and how to go about achieving it, especially in terms of what might be required educationally speaking" (Bloch 2009:164). According to Northouse (2012:30) charismatic leaders serve as strong role models for the values they desire others to adopt. This type of learner shows competence in every aspect of leadership, so others trust their decisions. They also articulate clear goals and strong values, communicate high expectations for followers and show confidence to meet these expectations.
The aim of this study is to study the attributes of such a charismatic leader and to compose a profile of excellent leadership.
The study is embedded in the theoretical framework of leadership studies. The attributes of an excellent learner leader are identified and compared with those identified in current leadership literature, with specific reference to the work of Northouse (2012).
The methodological framework for the study was provided by the 4D cycle of Appreciative Inquiry (AI): Discovery, followed by Dream, Design and Destiny. Cooperrider, Whitney and Stavros (2008:xxviii) summarise these four phases as follows:
The process is dynamic and interactive. It builds on imagination and flexibility for its success. It starts with Discovery. At this stage, the "best of what is" in a system is identified as the positive core. The second stage is Dream. This stage teaches a visioning process to suggest "what might be". The third stage is Design. The Design [phase] outlines the steps to create the ideal system for an organization. It builds on the positive core and the envisioned results of the first two stages. It allows for coconstructing the ideal design, "how it can be". The final stage is termed Destiny. The Destiny [phase] covers the implementation and model for sustaining an appreciative learning environment, "what will be".
An AI is started by identifying the change agenda and the choice of the affirmative topic (Whitney and Trosten-Bloom 2010:6, 7). In the case of this study the change agenda was to compile a profile of an excellent school leader, Emme-Lancia Veronique Faro, head girl of Oranje Secondary School for Girls in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Cooperrider et al. (2008:xv) describe this introductory step as follows: "AI begins by identifying what is positive and connecting to it in ways that heighten energy, vision, and action for change."
During the Discovery phase of this AI appreciative interviews were conducted with six teachers and seven current and previous learners who were closely involved with Faro when she was a learner at the school. The following questions were asked as part of this phase:
  • What is your first or fondest memory of Emme-Lancia?
  • Tell me about an occasion where she meant a lot to you.
  • Tell me about one of her speeches that made an impression on you.
  • What makes her a good leader?
  • What is the one thing that would describe her - without which she simply would not be Emme-Lancia?
The following question was asked as part of the second or Dream phase:
  • What would you wish future head girls could learn from her?
The responses were recorded and coded to identify the attributes of Faro's leadership and to compile a profile of her positive core. This profile is presented here as a framework for development and change. This might inspire others to use her profile to design a personal framework for development (the third phase of AI). In the process it is possible that her profile and legacy might become other learner leader's destination (Crous, De Bruyn, Roodt, Van Vuuren, Schoeman and Stuart 2006:4) (the fourth and final phase of AI).
The following themes were identified from the interviews and were presented as the attributes of an excellent learner leader:
  • She embraces who she is and possesses inner peace and acceptance - self-confidence.
  • Purposeful, principled, commitment and perseverance - integrity.
  • Sincere, friendly serving and support of everyone she leads and who follows her - sociality.
  • Inspiring speeches, tact, wisdom, sincerity and diplomacy - charisma.
  • Enthusiasm, passion, zeal and spontaneity - determination.
  • Religious conviction and values as a functional spiritual basis.
  • Love for and commitment to the school as an organisation and its ethos/traditions.

It was possible to link these attributes to those presented by Northouse (2012:22-33) in his descriptions of the traits of excellent leaders. The selection of Faro as the subject of this investigation is therefore validated. She is a young lady who was seemingly effortlessly able to conquer the hearts and minds of one of the most tradition-bound schools for girls in the country. She did groundbreaking work with her principled application of discipline and with the persevering manner in which she strove to realise her stated mission and objectives. She knew almost every learner in the school's name and smiled while conversing with them. She was a friend of all the learners, but even her best friends knew that she was incorruptible in enforcing the school's rules.
The girls and teachers of the school were inspired by her moving speeches and they would cry while she was delivering them. They were - and still are - proud of the determined manner in which she accepted and executed the ambassadorship of the school. She supported the teachers when they needed that, but likewise reprimanded them if necessary. She was and is a role model par excellence.

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