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In Memoriam: Vernon Wood, Wynberg Old Boy & Educator

WOBU WBHS InMemoriam VernonWood

Vernon Wood, Rest In Peace

Saturday 17 February 2018: it was with profound shock and deep sadness that the School and Wynberg Old Boys' Union learnt of the sudden passing of Old Boy, Vernon Wood, former principal of both Bergvliet High School and Bishops. Our deepest condolences to the Wood family.

Keith Richardson, former Wynberg Boys' High School Educator and Headmaster, writes:

I well remember Vernon Wood as a schoolboy at Wynberg. He threw himself with enthusiasm into all he did, had a cheery smile and made friends easily. He finished off his Wynberg career in 1977 as prop for the first rugby team as well as serving as school prefect.

It came as no surprise, when together with classmates Greg Brown and Chris Luman, also future principals, he decided to attend UCT and become a teacher. He started off his teaching career at Queens College before moving up the ranks, returning to Cape Town as a HOD at Muizenberg High School. From the beginning of his career, he impressed all with his enthusiasm for the teaching profession and his ability to relate to everyone from parents, to school management, to pupils at the school.

His next move was to Bergvliet High School as a Deputy Principal in 1997, a position he handled with such accomplishment that he was an obvious candidate for the Principalship when it came up in 2005. He soon established Bergvliet as a school of choice in the area achieving the enviable reputation of someone who was innovative and a far-sighted educational thinker. He established a vision for the school and with his natural bubbly and warm personality, the community of Bergvliet followed him enthusiastically.

His leadership success and enviable reputation, led him to be appointed as Headmaster of Bishops in 2008 - reporting to the Principal. Hardly had he opened his office door before he found himself handling a number of contentious issues with quiet dignity - always willing to listen respectfully to both sides before coming to a carefully thought through response. Even though confrontation was not his style, staff and boys at the school soon realised that this new man had a backbone of steel.

The shining highlight of his tenure at Bishops - sadly too short - was his organisation of the International Boys’ School conference held at the school in July 2015. It was bristling with innovative and fresh ideas and delegates from all over the world left invigorated by novel and different ideas. He strived - and succeeded - in bringing together teachers from a variety of schools from every continent who argued, debated, wrangled and reflected over the latest educational issues. The best of all, typical Vernon, was that he ensured that these frank exchange of views would continue late into the night at various social functions.

Latterly, he served as head of the Quality Assurance at IQAA - where his talents as a mediator and honest broker soon came to the fore and he was destined, yet again, to make a huge impact on another sphere of education.

Alas, this was not to be and we were shocked to hear of his fatal heart attack while cycling last Saturday morning. Wynberg Boys’ High salutes this fine educationalist and passes on sincere and heartfelt condolences to Betty Ann and his children, Belinda, Nicholas and Heather. In time, may it be a source of comfort to them to know that their father and husband was a giant amongst teachers who added value to the lives of so many thousands of young people.

Keith Richardson

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