Eugene Daniels leaves a legacy for Education

  A tribute to Eugene Daniels, Education District Director of Metro South

There I was, an apprehensive novice education district official being spoken to by the Education District Director of Metro South Education District, Western Cape, Eugene Daniels. Eugene had joined us during our induction and enquired in a calm, warm voice how I was adjusting.  He looked just like one of us, except he had copies of the book “Leading in a culture of change” by Michael Fullan nestling on his table. Needless to say, by the end of the session, I went home armed with my personal copy of that book. I devoured every page and pencilled in key bits of information like a new student.

Eugene at a Staff  forum held at Rondevlei Nature Reserve.

Over the next four years, I experienced this MBWA-styled leadership embraced by Eugene. He was, as far as possible, part of our professional spaces. He joined us when we held professional development workshops for our educators, becoming a participant like any other. When schools celebrated, Eugene was there. Educators loved this!

Eugene Daniels with the Prospective Matrics 2016, currently  in Grade 8.
When Lavender Hill, an impoverished, crime and gang-infested community on the Cape Flats was under siege by yet another  turf war amongst the gangs, Eugene Daniels was there. It is during such episodes of escalating crime and gang violence, that when Eugene showed up, our school communities found renewed resilience. They knew that they were standing on the shoulders of a giant.

Eugene with a few colleagues at the Principals' Conference 2011

Yes, there are many challenges and lessons to learn as we traverse the complexities of the educational landscape. You need a leader with vision, a leader with a tough, yet gentle approach to be there to steer the ship. It takes political, professional and personal will to stay focused on the real mission of education: to foster nation-building and active citizenship for all.  Eugene Daniels is such a leader. I have been blessed to be initiated into officialdom by this man.

We should have seen his resignation coming. We should have known that Eugene would be head-hunted to move to another space where we need courageous leaders.  The challenge now for us is to build on the transformational agenda of the education district left by his (her) predecessor. 

Snapshots of the Director at grassroots...
Eugene in conversation with principals about safety concerns at Levana Primary  School.

Eugene celebrating with Zerilda Park principal and GrowSmart Champion Teacher  in 2011.


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