In 2021 i became part of the Partners for Possibility program.

i have mentioned this a few times recently, but thought it might be helpful to give a bit of a bigger glimpse into what it is as it feels like such a super inspiring program that i am truly privileged to be a part of.

In their own words, on their website, they describe themselves in this way:

Partners for Possibility is a creative solution to South Africa’ education crisis – it is a co-action, co-learning partnership between School Principals and Business Leaders, enabling social cohesion through partnerships, and empowering Principals to become change leaders in their schools and communities. The Partners for Possibility Programme facilitates cross-sectoral reciprocal partnerships between Business, Government and the Social Sector.

Partners for Possibility Infographic

My journey with PfP

At the end of 2018, my friend Hani du Toit invited me to an end-of-year function dinner for something she called Partners for Possibility. i jumped at the chance [free food! Okay, maybe more because of what a positive and educational influence Hani had been in my life that year] despite not really knowing what it was about.

It was an evening of inspiration, particularly of story-telling, as each partnership [one business partner and one school principal] presented feedback of their journey through the year. Each story very different from the one before, but all truly inspiring and seriously hope-giving for the state of education in our country, particularly in lower-resourced areas.

The typical journey of Partners for Possibility [me being me means mine is a little bit different] is that of seeing a Principal and a Business partner join together to learn together and be mentored in small groups and larger groups with the hope of seeing the school, staff and learners benefit tremendously from this year together. And the hope that when the program ends after a year, that the partnership might continue for years to come.

That as 8 principals are effected in one Circle [there are a number of circles running around the country at any given time but the one i am in has 8 partnerships] so that leads to 200+ staff members being affected and in turn over 5000 learners [our group represents 7600 learners i think it was].

While at the same time, business leaders are being affected and changed which will hopefully have an impact on their businesses and in the country in a variety of ways.

As for me, i am not what you would call a traditional business leader and so i am a bit of an anomaly – which adds to my gratitude of being invited on this journey – but i am hoping that my twenty years of Improv and story-telling experience will add a different but significant flavour to my particular partnership and am excited to see that in action.

Toward the end of last year, Hani had a conversation with me about the possibility of being part of Partners for Possibility. i was in from the beginning, and my only hesitation was trying to imagine what i might bring as a non-traditional-business-leader type to a business leader space. But Hani was convinced and so i said “Yes!” and before i knew it this journey was on the way.

Our first two connections with the Circle of 16 had to be on Zoom cos Pandemic, but then i was able to visit my partner’s school and meet him in person and recently the Circle was able to get together for an incredible day of training called Time to Think. One of the benefits of this journey is that beyond our partnership and the triangle with Hani [our circle leader] we also get to connect with principals and business leaders from the wider circle and having met them, i can truly say that i am excited for those connections as well.

Mr Fuad Viljoen – Lavender Hill High School

Due to unfortunate Covid circumstances, my partner was changed up at the very last moment and i was assigned to journey with Mr Fuad Viljoen who is the fairly new principal of Lavender Hill High School.

After a few tentative Whatsapp messages as we started connecting with each other and i tried to get used to a grown man calling me ‘Sir’ i got to drive out to Lavender Hill High School for our first face-to-face meeting. We instantly hit it off and i was quite blown away with some of the incredible facilities the school has [especially in terms of sport where they had some amazing sponsorship come through for a variety of sporting fields and equipment that they are in partnership with along with three nearby primary schools] and just starting to hear some of his story.

The day we spent together with the Circle cemented our mutual respect [well, i guess i can only call it from my side but it feels that way!] as we had some more time in pairs and smaller groups to dive deeper into our stories and values and vision. Followed by a second visit to the school  yesterday to hear the end of one of the stories that was cut short from the Circle day and build a sense of what is going on over there.

If this photo is anything to go by, there is a big chance that Fuad and i will be releasing a boy band single by the end of the year. But more seriously though, i am super excited for this invitation to journey with Mr Viljoen and his school and community through 2021 and possibly beyond.

During the first part of the program you are encouraged to turn off your desire to do. Take time to listen and watch and learn and understand the context and get to know each other and don’t rush to suggest or fix or bring or add. Which is hard for me as a white male i think with inbuilt DNA tendencies to swoop in and white Saviour the place. And Lavender Hill High School certainly does not need any of that anyway – as the security person let me on to the premises on my first visit she announced that i was entering the best school in the Western Cape and Mr Viljoen confirmed later that from the moment of stepping foot on the property he wants people to start to understand the heartbeat of the school. So i am leaning in to that – to listening and asking questions and observing and building relationship. In the back of my mind the story-telling gears are moving as i can imagine that when we move to any kind of doing that will be something i can bring to the table in terms of creative ways of sharing the stories. But for now it really is just an incredible honour to be in this space, with these phenomenal people who are seeking to change the world around them.

Spend some time on their page and get to know them a little better and watch this space as the story unfolds…