Teaching the difference between success and significance

Brescia House head girl Tadiwanashe Mutambara presenting the gift of a beaded logo to Sibongile (Bongi) Mkhabela, chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital

Brescia House head girl Tadiwanashe Mutambara presenting the gift of a beaded logo to Sibongile (Bongi) Mkhabela, chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital

Brescia House School, a private school situated in the heart of Bryanston, celebrated their jubilee year (50th anniversary) during 2016. It was an eventful year, both inside and outside of the classrooms. At the annual prize-giving evening at the end of last year, headmistress Benedikte Nott addressed the school on the difference between success and significance.

“Our Jubilee Year has given me, and us, the opportunity to answer this question.
And so as this year draws to a close and another begins, I think there is no better time to consider the role we each played in bringing something more than material success to the school and to our lives.

“Much more goes on at school over and above the sound educational work that is done, and generally it is driven by personal values and is offered as a gift by individuals — a gift that cannot be purchased.”

Founding ethos

Nott reiterated the words of founding headmistress Mother Xavier Rowntree, who 49 years ago said: “School is a society that can provide children with a sense of belonging, without which there can be no community, and if there is no sense of community there can be no interest in serving it. One of the first things a school must do is to provide a sense of community.

“Pupils must be trained to [adopt] a sense of responsibility to themselves, to their school and to the wider community to which they will one day belong.

“Service in the school — and there are many opportunities for this (even if it is only a little thing like picking up sweet-papers) — will inevitably lead to service in one’s local community, whether it be the home, the church, or in one’s profession or business.”


It is the school’s vision to ensure that the girls achieve success that is imbued with a generous spirit. The word Serviam on the school badge encompasses this very aspect. It means “I will serve” and all staff and pupils, from grade R through to grade 12, are encouraged to become actively involved in various community outreach programmes.

One such programme is the For Kids, By Kids project in support of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust. The school has been involved with this project since 2013 and is officially the longest supporter of the trust.  On December 2 2016, the head girls and Serviam Committee attended the official opening of the hospital. The school commissioned a beaded version of the hospital’s logo to local street bead vendors, which was presented as a gift to the hospital at the opening.

Brescia House School head girl for 2017 Tadiwanashe Mutambara proudly handed over the gift to Sibongile Mkhabela, chief executive of the hospital. It was a very moving event, with dignitaries from around the world attending. At the end of the celebration, Mutambara assisted Graça Machel in the unveiling of the hospital plaque.

Head of community outreach at the school Liz Norman adds: “Despite the economic constraints we all face every day, Brescia House School pupils, parents and staff continue to give geneorusly of their time and energy, as well as in terms of donations for worthy causes. We are proudly South African and strive hard to live up to our motto of ‘service to others’.”

Find out more at www.brescia.co.za or email admissions@brescia.co.za

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