A strong-willed mother’s determination to provide a holistic and stress-free education for her children was the principle on which Sagewood School was founded in 1985.
Jill Conradie, a mother of three young children, started a school in a flat in Cyrildene embodying her ideas. The school was named Sagewood, “sage” being an indigenous tree in our country. A year later the ‘school in a room’ was too small with 65 learners and necessitated a move to new premises. The school relocated to two other places and eventually settled in the Old Johannesburg Children’s Home in Observatory with 200 children. The first principal, John de Jager, an educator with immense foresight was specifically chosen to extend the school and see it grow. The school grew, in spite of having few resources, the learner numbers increased to 260 and the teachers to 16.
As a result of these two visionaries’ efforts Sagewood Education Centre, an institute that offered academic excellence and community service, progressed steadily and embraced the values of non-racialism, non-denominationalism and multi-culturalism in the environment of an apartheid South Africa.
The members of this institute developed an astute awareness of the importance of serving the community and contributed positively to these needs. By 1989 the school grew to 300 learners and attracted the attention of the Anglo American and De Beers funding of 11 million which provided the opportunity for Sagewood to plant its roots on its current 70-acre site in Midrand where its custom designed facilities now stand. Sagewood continued sharing its resources with the community and opened its doors to many other fields of study. This led to the establishment of the Adult College, The Teacher Development Programme and the Alexandra Resource Centre.
Sagewood School’s commitment to address society’s needs led them to adopt the Early Childhood Development Outreach Programme in 1993, in which child minders, with no formal training, were equipped with skills, knowledge and values to upgrade the level of teaching and learning in pre-schools. This project has had an enormous impact on the neighbouring communities and Sagewood has trained more than 950 pre-school teachers and has reached out to over 28 000 learners in Tembisa and the surrounding areas. As with all non-profit organisations funding is essential.