From a tiny children’s clothing shop in the small English village of Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight to a school on the Cape Flats is quite a stretch of the imagination but not when it came to honouring Jo’s life, and Jo’s School in Vrygrond is proof of that.
Today, the 5th October 2020, we celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Jo’s School – and what a journey it has been. The seed of the school germinated from the funding generated by this little shop and then it grew and branches were added by donors big and small until it became what it is today: a beautiful Montessori preschool providing 56 disadvantaged children from an impoverished community with an excellent learning foundation to propel them into their future formal education.
From the moment that Jonathan Schrire gave us premises for our school things just began to come together; Niki, our amazing principal joined us and became my dear friend and partner in this wonderful adventure; the Rolf-Stephen Nussbaum Foundation was our first funder and continued to support us so generously; Strilli Oppenheimer donated all the classroom furniture and Montessori equipment; the Jephcott Foundation (UK) caused the sandy, windswept playground to turn green overnight; John Caulcutt (UK) donated the proceeds of his annual summer party (and it’s quite a party); Man Investments (Switzerland) donated generously; Mary Oppenheimer and Daughters became funders and continue to support us so generously; as does Catalyst Fund Managers; Laurium Capital; DG Murray Trust and many, many more.
Family, friends, advisers and supporters gave of their time (and countless hours of listening to me planning on and on) and donated whatever they could – business plans were created, advice was given, murals painted, websites designed, Cape Argus’ were cycled, lakes were swum, sponsors pledged to donate… the list goes on and on and you all know who you are and how eternally grateful I am to you.
This anniversary is proof that all your time, effort and donations were not wasted as Jo’s School continues to flourish and bring joy to so many deserving little souls. Since my retirement at the end of 2016 Jo’s School has been in the experienced and capable hands of Hawa Tayob and her enthusiastic team at the Montessori Early Learning Foundation and continues to grow under their energetic watch and will do so into the future. I am so grateful to them.
For me Jo’s School embodies love in all its forms and I am sure we all agree with the Beatles that ‘love is all you need’.