In August of this year, UCT Online High School became the most affordable, fully accredited online school in Africa to offer the Cambridge International curriculum with Tessa Venter heading up the Cambridge International curriculum as Head of School.
As a teenager, Tessa always said that she would never be an educator. Tessa spent her childhood growing up on school campuses across Southern Africa, her dad was a teacher and ‘school’ was all she had ever known. In true teenage style, the idea of following one of your parents into the same profession was definitely not okay.
Instead, Tessa decided that she wanted to be a broadcast journalist who specialised in news and so she went off to study Journalism and Media Studies. Four years and two degrees later, Tessa and her now husband moved to South Korea to teach and it was here that she finally realised that education was where she was supposed to be.
UCT Online High sat down with Tessa, asking her a few less formal questions to get to know her a little more and find out who she really is, outside of her important role as UCT Online High School’s Head of School for Cambridge International curriculum:
Q: What would learners be surprised to find out about you?
A: That I have lived in three countries, seven towns/cities, and 19 houses. I have also been lucky enough to travel to 23 countries.
Q: If you were trapped on a deserted island, what’s the one thing you couldn’t live without?
A: My kindle! I love to read and if I can’t take all my physical books with me then I need a device that can hold all my books.
Q: What meal/dish can you cook to perfection? And are you willing to share the recipe?
A: My go-to is roast chicken, roast baby potatoes, and veggies! Easy, yet always a winner.
Q: What’s your favourite book, movie, and song?
A: My favourite books would be any historical fiction – I have recently finished London by Edward Rutherford. My favourite song would be anything I can sing (badly) along to… and my favourite movie is Downton Abbey (the series and the movie).
Q: If you could pass on any wisdom to your learners, what would you share?
A: Be okay with making mistakes or failing at something. When this happens, this is your chance to learn and grow!
Q: The best advice you’ve ever been given?
A: Don’t be afraid to say yes. Something I try to live my life by is to say yes to the big, scary, overwhelming things. If it doesn’t work out, well at least I can say I tried and it didn’t work or wasn’t for me. I never want to look back and say “I should have done that, why didn’t I take that leap”.
Q: How do you show your school spirit?
A: By showing up with passion and excitement, especially for the Cambridge International curriculum. I can’t say enough good things about this as a curriculum option for learners.
Q: What’s the best thing about being the Head of School for the Cambridge International Curriculum at UCT Online High School?
A: The incredible people I get to work with day in and day out as we get ready to launch the Cambridge International Curriculum in January 2023 – they really are amazing! I’m also really looking forward to meeting all our learners and families.
Q: Why should guardians and learners be open to online schooling?
A: If the pandemic taught us anything about education, it’s that school does not need to conform to a physical space. We can literally move learning beyond the four walls of the classroom and make it accessible and applicable for as many learners as possible.
Something I believe very strongly in is that different schools work for different learners. We cannot assume a one school fits all approach when it comes to our children. Online schooling gives us, as guardians, more choices to find the right space for our children.
Q: If you weren’t the Head of School for Cambridge International curriculum at UCT Online High School what would you do?
A: I would still be in education in some way, shape, or form. More than likely teaching English and Drama.
Q: What’s your favourite way to be active?
A: Wow! This is a tough one for me. I have recently started running again, but I also enjoy going for walks with my family.
Q: What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
A: Move overseas to a country that had a completely different culture and where English was not widely spoken. I left knowing that I would not be able to come home for at least a year.
Q: What makes you laugh?
A: My three-year-old daughter. It’s just incredible to see her curiosity and her eagerness to learn – it leads to a lot of her asking ‘why’ and some very funny questions.
Q: If you could invite four famous people to dinner, who would you invite and why?
A: Queen Elizabeth 1 – she was never supposed to be queen and as a woman, her leadership was often called into question and doubted.
Betty Friedan – her writing sparked second-wave feminism in the 1960s.
John Kani – I have had the privilege of seeing him on stage and was blown away.
William Shakespeare – for the English and Drama teacher in me. I do wonder what he would think of 21st-century life.
Q: If you were a superhero, what would be your superpower?
A: To make time stand still! Imagine being able to make time stand still while on an amazing trip, or for the times when my daughter is doing something particularly amazing or when I just need a little bit more time in a day!
Q: What was your favourite subject in high school?
A: English! I was incredibly lucky to have the most amazing English teachers who became mentors for me.
Q: What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
A: Write a book
Q: Any advice on how to cope with stress and anxiety?
A: To keep the five minutes, five hours, five days, five months and five years lens on things. Will this still be critically important or cause me anxiety/stress in five minutes? five days? five months? five years?
Q: Why education as a career path?
A: Education is one of the most challenging, but immensely rewarding fields to be in. If there is one field that is going to change the world, then education is it. It’s a real privilege to wake up every day and be part of something bigger than me.
Q: What’s your ideal studying environment?
A: My home office! A great desk set-up (that includes a second screen!), good lighting, nice notebooks, colourful pens and highlighters to hand, and some music. I also like to be surrounded by mementoes that have special meanings. For example. on the bookshelf above my desk, I have a small ceramic lighthouse figurine from a childhood trip to the USA, a file filled with poetry written by my grandfather and family photos.
When it comes to the Cambridge International curriculum, Tessa believes that the spiral curriculum approach that Cambridge International adopts, really sets learners up for success. The Cambridge International curriculum is recognised by over 2000 tertiary institutions worldwide, “our learners will automatically be eligible to apply to any university in the United Kingdom, over 800 universities in the US, and many other learner destinations, including Canada, Australia, Singapore, Germany and the Netherlands.
I do also want to stress that this offering is not only for learners wishing to study and work overseas, with all major South African tertiary institutions accepting learners with their AS-Levels,” she explains.
Feeling inspired to unlock a more global future? Make the switch today, and you’ll receive a 20% early bird discount on your placement fee until 31 October 2022!
Want first-hand information? Join the live UCT Online High School Cambridge International Curriculum webinar on Wednesday 2 November at 1pm or 6pm – book your spot now HERE.
If you’ve still got questions, or need some more guidance, please contact one of the UCT Online School’s friendly admissions consultants on 021 140 1792 or email [email protected]; they’ll be more than happy to assist.
Picture: UCT Online High School