An Applewood Story
I moved into the Elgin valley in July 2001 with a two and a half year-old and a 6 month old baby. After two weeks of trying to entertain a very lonely toddler I asked the neighboring farmer if he knew of a school in the Elgin Valley. Applewood was mentioned. Sophie joined this tiny school in September 2001 and we never looked back. Olivia after much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the school field was allowed to join her sister two years later. These two apple-pips are now 18 and 20 and we still sometimes drive to Applewood to see what’s going on or to show their friends.
For an authentic and truthful account of Applewood I thought it best to get the low down straight from the horses’ mouths so to speak.
“Barefoot, outside in the sprinklers, the teachers, the small classes, not much choice of friends (Ha! Ha!) the scenery, the drive to school in the morning. I’ll think of more but I’m just doing my meditation now …” Sophie Bauer Gunn. October 27, 2019
“The small size of the school was super nice because it meant that you literally knew everyone from Apple Pips to Grade 7. Friendship Day was the best because every grade was assigned to another so you made friends with all the little ones and when you were in the younger grades you had mentors which was so cute. Every break-time and lunch-time was so nice because we all ate outside and ran around and just had so much fun.” Olivia Bauer Gunn. October 27, 2019
As a parent I am of the opinion that the grounding, security and education, as well as the love and respect for nature, that was engendered at Applewood has to a large extent enabled these children to thrive independently often far from home, in our case boarding school in Grahamstown. The DSG did phone me shortly after Sophie arrived there to inform me that they were having difficulty persuading Sophie to wear shoes to breakfast and that she loved climbing on top of her cupboard … I suggested it was due to a country school education and was sure they had larger disciplinary fish to fry. The phone calls from DSG dried up after that.
Applewood children seem to have deep roots which hold them firm even when thrown into the big world. I believe in this preparatory education so strongly that we as a family continue to send disadvantaged children from Iona to Applewood. This has further endorsed my opinion of the Applewood community which includes the parents as well. By including our underprivileged children in their own children’s parties, weekend sleep-overs, helping make an extra costume for Dramatic performances and filling in for their own
parents in terms of contributing to cake sales and providing lifts to outings, I believe that the Applewood community has been the Village that it takes to raise a child. My admiration and gratitude to these parents is immense. It is the small privileges that we take so much for granted such as being confident at a dinner table with knives and forks, speaking fluent English, experiencing proper road safety and etiquette by being lifted by parents to outings, an abhorrence for littering are all small but invaluable life lessons which have been passed onto our significantly less privileged farm children. A school cannot operate optimally without a supportive and sensible parent-body and I firmly believe that Applewood parents are one of the school’s secret assets.
I know we cannot change the world, but hope lies in small pockets of excellence and taking charge within our own sphere of influence. And I use the word hope in the deep and powerful sense that unlike optimism which is the conviction that something will turn out well, hope is the certainty that something makes sense, and the ability to work for something because it is good, regardless of financial or egotistical success.
I believe Applewood is such a school, and a pocket of educational excellence.
October 27, 2019
It takes a village to raise a child
Is there anything more daunting than the responsibility of making the right choices for your children’s future? The right “start” is such a make or break choice. Primary school is the foundation of my children’s future academics, the personal relationships they’ll maintain, the “whole individuals” I hope they will become. In short: Primary school provides the footing for the rest of their lives.
Being a teacher myself and having taught at schools with 40-45 learners per class – the biggest selling point to Applewood is it’s wholesome, nurturing environment. They don’t allow their classes to become too big. My child doesn’t just become a number. A report card. I believe a child can only fully benefit academically after they have established an emotional bond with their teacher and surroundings. I know these teachers. They are heartfelt, dedicated educators who aim to develop and build up each and every little individual that comes through their door. I have often seen them in action and I know without a doubt that my child is not just a number to them.
To further enhance the overall development of my children, they have the exhilarating future prospect of loads of outings and camps which are nature and activity orientated. With a qualified occupational therapist and speech therapist at school, super music and drama and art teachers, enthusiastic and highly acclaimed sports teachers we are confident that “all the boxes are ticked” when it comes to the all round development of our kids.
We are so thrilled to see the role that Applewood and its holistic approach to shaping well rounded, confident children is already playing in our little ones’ confidence and trust. We feel totally secure in the love and nurture and personal validation our little ones are receiving at school.
I love the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”, – Applewood is our village.
Part of the Applewood Family
Having been both a teacher and parent of Applewood, I can highly recommend Applewood Preparatory School as a school for your children and family.
I say family because when you join Applewood, you become part of the Applewood Family. Your child will not only receive an education of excellence but your family will be embraced into the community where personal involvement is encouraged and friendships are formed. The staff care about your child holistically and are highly motivated to not only give them a stimulating education but care about their positive personal growth and life skills so that they may mature into confident, caring and consciously aware teenagers. Your child’s time at Applewood will be a meaningful and enriching experience.
The staff are highly innovative and energetic, always researching the latest trends in teaching and education. As Applewood is a small school, the staff get to know all the Applewood children well and this removes any stress when your child progresses through the grades. Applewood encourages positive interaction between children and teachers resulting in good social skills and personal relationships.
Applewood prioritises environmental education and this forms a large part of their curriculum. School camps are an important aspect across the grades. My children loved their time at Applewood; they made lifelong friends and they often speak of their camps and class projects which remain some of their favourite memories. After leaving Applewood, my son was confident and well prepared to enter high school as a boarder. He was able to manage his school work and studies very well and held his own on the sports field. We believe that his years at Applewood helped him to grow into a happy, well-balanced young man, ready to stretch his wings and face the challenges of teenagehood.
Real childhood for kids
I have four very different boys of different ages currently attending Applewood School and each one loves the school and loves going to school each day. The school is small enough that my kids know everyone in the school, which creates such a secure environment for them, but it is big enough that there is a wide range of activities, sports, music, art, drama, academics and therapies to keep them busy. The setting is idyllic, surrounded by apple orchards with chickens running through the school and nature at the heart of the school, it is very removed from the frenetic pace of city life. Combined with the nurturing, creative and energetic teachers at the school, this makes for kids that are relaxed, happy, confident, inclusive and are super proud of their school. I personally love the way the school has embraced its surroundings by offering activities and events suited to the environment – mountain biking, cross country, swimming, gardening, eco-challenges, apple pie contests, night relays through surrounding farms, mountain to coast challenges, school camps, harvest festivals, and school trips to local businesses and farms. All my boys have found their unique interests at Applewood – from birding, to hip-hop, to piano, to mountain biking and reading. I can’t recommend the school highly enough for those wanting a real childhood for their kids.
Simonne & Chris Moodie
Applewood Preparatory has provided a safe and happy environment for our children to learn and grow in confidence and maturity. Our older child has been doing well at high school due to the foundation built through the education at Applewood. Our daughter currently in Grade 2, goes to school smiling and comes home happy. We appreciate the weekly newsletters, class updates and reminders as well as the improvements in the facilities in recent years. Keep up the #GoodRootsGoodFruits work.
Erna and Jurie Muller
The Learning Support Hub at Applewood completes the picture
The constant strives of the staff within Applewood for all children to realise their full potential, is what makes this school such a special place for them to learn and grow. To this, the peaceful location in nature with all the space to go out, sport and explore makes it a save environment to enjoy. As parents having a daughter challenged by dyslexia, the Learning Support Hub at Applewood makes the picture complete.
Yvonne van Heiningen and Stan Stolk
Respect, integrity, grit and perseverance
We are a family that relocated from the Cape Town to the Elgin Valley 5 years ago. Although we were slightly anxious about the transition from a bigger and more mainstream schooling environment to a much smaller school, our concerns were immediately put to rest once we saw how our girls settled in. There are many things that make Applewood a special place for kids to grow and develop. A smaller school naturally allows for more individual attention, which enables the growth of self-confidence and it encourages interaction across age groups, leading to varied and special friendships. What I love the most about Applewood is that the children are recognised and celebrated for showing respect, integrity, grit and perseverance – which are values that will stand them in great stead throughout their lives. It brings me a great sense of comfort every morning when I drop my girls at school and see how happy they are to be there and belong to such a wonderful family of friends and community.
Catherine and Selbourne Boome
The best start in life you can wish for your child
There are so many things that I love about Applewood – the amazing teachers and staff who know and care for each of our children as individuals, the way the children all know each other and have fun together playing across grades, the incredible outdoor activities/challenges and outings/camps that they go on and the beautiful spacious environment they have to play in, the way every single child gets to participate and perform in sport, musical and drama/art productions, and the way the children get to learn about the importance of hard work and ‘grit’ without the enormous pressure that seems to perpetuate many schools these days … allowing the kids to just be kids and experience the joy of having a real childhood!
But the thing that I love the most about Applewood (which I guess is just the outcome of everything that the school offers) is the confidence and self-esteem that it builds in our children. The children get to try so many different things, they have the opportunity to be themselves, and most importantly, they learn to truly believe in themselves! What better start in life can you wish for your child?
Nicky du Toit