Why I love being on staff at Ambleside |The Vine School

Our staff speak about working at the school and how the philosophy has influenced them and their families.

Management Team


Ryno von Waltzleben / Principal

Becoming part of and leading the Vine School, has been an answer to prayer. I consider myself blessed and I am truly humbled to lead such an incredible team of staff who have a desire to see the Kingdom of God advanced through education and are committed to, not only their own growth, but even more so, the growth of our pupils.

The Charlotte Mason philosophy and the Ambleside approach is nothing short of inspiring, to say the least, and it is indeed good for me to be here, with the family of the Vine School!

Gina Smith / Director of Instruction

HOD Preschool and Gr 1 JeanIn 2020 I left the position of Director of Instruction to teach a Grade 1 class. For two-and-a-half years, I thoroughly enjoyed the privilege of guiding and teaching young children and shaping their hearts and minds in the classroom.

When this position became available again, I felt God calling me back to this area of ministry from the classroom. So it was with sadness that I left the classroom in June 2023, but also with much gratitude for the time I spent learning from and teaching these precious young people.

I look forward to fulfilling my Director of Instruction role as I support the teachers, parents and children to grow in this life-giving philosophy and teaching method.

Susan Keegan / Business Manager

Deputy Principal   Gina Smith place holder

For a very, very long time - right back to school days - I wanted to reform education into something inspiring and liberating.  Twice I started studying to become a teacher, but God had other work for me, and kept drawing me into financial and HR administration instead.    

It is therefore a great joy and privilege to serve as Business Manager at a school which embodies everything that I believe education ought to be.  I am grateful too for the opportunity to work in a context where Christian ethics are respected both in the classroom and in the admin offices.   

Virtual tour of The Vine School


Tanya Adey / Past teacher

The Vine School is like a big family and I love the relational way in which we teach and really get to know each one of our pupils. It is a privilege to be able to pray for and with each other every day, and to nurture kindness and genuine care for one another. Even if there are occasionally  disagreements or unkind words, we teach the children how to resolve issues peacefully. They learn how to say sorry properly and how to give and receive forgiveness. In this world where so much emphasis is on doing things for yourself it is fulfilling to see these good traits developing in the children who come through my class.

Bernadette Williams / Preschool

Deputy Principal   Gina Smith place holder

What I enjoy about teaching at this school is the individual attention that is given to each and every child in the classroom. This offers a safe avenue for the child to express his ideas, explore new things and most importantly, to be himself. Our children are educated for a life of responsive discipleship in Jesus Christ. The Bible is at the centre of the curriculum and all subjects are taught from a Christian perspective. As the Bible says, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)

Leverne de Klerk / Grade 1

Leverne de Klerk Grade 3 Teacher

It has been a complete honour to have joined The Vine School family. Witnessing the love, respect, and kindness within the environment and between children and colleagues is admirable.

I have noticed how much the learners love learning. This is all thanks to Charlotte Mason’s philosophy as it interacts with literature that equips learners with rich language and knowledge allowing mental connections to new or existing knowledge to take place.


Dayle Reid / Grade R

Dayle Reid 3I have been teaching in the Grade R class at The Vine School for four years. Having taught at other Christian schools I was at first a  little hesitant about the methodology but soon realised how rich and beautiful it is.

What impressed me most was the atmosphere of honour and respect, especially how the teachers speak to the children and how the staff speak to one another, always building up and encouraging.

Since working at The Vine School I have become very alert to nature and things of beauty. When I go for walks, I’m constantly observing colours, birdlife and plants. I have even started painting some of my observations with watercolours.

I have noticed that I speak to my grandchildren differently and always praise effort and that which is of good character. I like to give them books which are elegantly written and rich in language. This has been a direct influence from my working environment.

If my children were young, they would be attending The Vine School.

Zamokuhle Gqweta / Grade 2

Deputy Principal   Gina Smith place holder

It is an honour to be in a school environment that supports the development of learners in a multifaceted way. Witnessing the excellence, warmth, mutual respect, and love for one another from learners and staff has been delightful. 

It is exhilarating to see how Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education is practically applied in and outside of the classroom in order to build sustainable healthy habits while fostering the development of the whole child and creating an atmosphere of education and discipline. It is evident in the pupils that there is a hunger for learning, and a desire to grow. 

What a privilege and pleasure it is to serve such a fantastic community.

Aulyn Gandanzara / Grade 2

HOD Preschool and Gr 1 Jean

After having taught in Mainstream schools for a couple of years, being at an Ambleside school is a dream come true. I am inspired greatly by the Living books, the spontaneous sharing of ideas by the learners, the calm and respectful way in which learners are nurtured.

Beth Crake / Grade 3

Deputy Principal   Gina Smith place holder

Having previously experienced other teaching methods during my years of study and a four-year internship at a local school, I already see the benefits of the Ambleside / Charlotte Mason approach to education. I enjoy seeing the children engage with the Bible's teachings each morning and they show interest in the wide variety of learning areas they are introduced to through the use of living texts throughout the day. At The Vine School the students are encouraged to think for themselves, practice good habits and develop a true love for learning.

Nadia Greeff / Grade 3

HOD Preschool and Gr 1 Jean

As a teacher I am inspired by the “living texts” that reinforce good, true and noble ideas. Ideas that help shape our children’s thinking and prepare them for life.  It is an honour to be entrusted with forming good character in children, to their benefit now and in the future.

I am encouraged by the growth I see in the pupils and in myself as an Ambleside teacher. I love seeing every pupil becoming more confident in themselves as they grow in knowledge, skills and relational maturity.

I could not have made a better decision than to join The Vine School family, where everyone is respected and valued as a unique individual.

Nikki Olivier / Grade 4

HOD Preschool and Gr 1 Jean

Coming from a different system, I have enjoyed the change to Charlotte Mason’s approach to teaching at The Vine School; where discussion is guided by the text, and students and the teacher are equally heard. As a teacher, I am facilitating learning rather than imparting information. The method enables children to take ownership of their learning, digesting and retaining what they have read. A focus on training in good habits is also beneficial to their future growth. There is an obvious love of learning – I look forward to being a part of their journey; learning alongside them about Our Father’s world.

Meggan Lewis / Grade 4

Deputy Principal   Gina Smith place holder

Charlotte Mason put it simply, "Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life".  At The Vine school pupils are educated by means of totality - surrounded by love, rich and living ideas, nurtured in the disciplines that shape good character. The warm environment is evident in acts of love, kindness and service toward one another in the classrooms and at break times. Education is so enjoyable that they develop a true love for learning, and are able to express their true thoughts and true selves in the safe environment of The Vine School.

Tracey Zyster / Grade 5

Deputy Principal   Gina Smith place holder

As a teacher of many years I have been exposed to every different curriculum introduced to democratic South Africa. What is different about the Ambleside curriculum is that it exposes children to great classical books and the finest works of art. In a world where quantity often surpasses quality, the children - including my own - are taught to appreciate what is of lasting value and to be grateful for things that are overlooked in standard curriculae.  

Our curriculum does not only challenge our children, but I too have been challenged through contact with so many wonderful, life-giving ideas.  It is not what we know but who we are becoming that matters.

Ian Smith / Grade 5

Ian Smith

After leading the school for 12 years, God led me to step down as Principal and graciously provided a teaching position at the school I have come to love so much.

I look forward to the Holy Spirit's guidance in the classroom to point pupils to ideas that will shape their hearts and minds and develop them into adults of good character. Being part of an approach to education that sees children as persons made in God's image with immeasurable potential has been eye-opening, refreshing and deeply rewarding.

Kolisa Ngcwama / Grade 6

HOD Preschool and Gr 1 Jean

It is an honour to teach at a school that encompasses my values and beliefs. The Vine School provides an environment of growth, both academically and spiritually for students and teachers alike. It is inspiring to teach students who are eager to learn and uphold Christian values and morals.

Tracey Leisegang / Grade 7

Staff Tracey L TVS 2022 95My husband and I attended a Vine School Open Day in 2015 and since then we have not looked back.  We were immediately drawn to the school’s warm inviting Christian ethos, the small personal class sizes and the refreshingly different approach to teaching and learning.  Our sons were enrolled soon thereafter and in 2017 I took up a teaching post at the school.  We have enjoyed being part of this close-knit school community where much focus is on character development and every individual’s worth is celebrated.  We are grateful to have found this little gem in the heart of Lansdowne!

Kelsey Lund / Grade 7

HOD Preschool and Gr 1 Jean

It is an honour and privilege to be part of The Vine School where students are viewed as whole persons who are active participants in their learning. As the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education inspires me to be a better person and teacher, it too challenges learners to be their best selves with Christ being at the center of their lives. I am excited to embark on this journey with The Vine School family where we are all guided by the Holy Spirit in all that we do.

Thora Mtlomelo / Previous staff member - isiXhosa teacher and Teacher assistant

Deputy Principal   Gina Smith place holder

In 2011 my grandson was in Preschool at a small Educare. He had a short attention span and couldn’t sit still. The Principal recommended The Vine School to me.  She said, “your grandson needs to go to Grade 1 in a small school, and it is a Christian school”. I applied to the school and he was accepted. I remember when I was in the interview with the Principal of the school I was open about my grandson’s concentration problem.  Even so, he agreed to support me. He and the teacher were committed to seeing the real child and not the problems. Many times I was called in for meetings with the Principal when my grandson was not doing well. He advised me what to do at home with him. I observed him at home and gave the school feedback. As years went by I could see the change in him. He finished grade 7 in 2018 and had totally changed in his character and academically. 

In 2014 I began an internship at the school to complete a National Diploma in Educare. I was worried because it is an English first language school and has a very high standard. But the support I received from the staff and my supervisors was amazing. It is a real Christian school. Once I was qualified I kept on working in the Preschool. I now teach isi-Xhosa as well in the higher grades, and together we are developing a new curriculum. 

The school doesn’t limit anyone - they believe in them.  It is a lifestyle. My mindset has changed in the way I look at children now. I really enjoy the approach of the school when they deal with staff members and children. You feel so respected after a talk or a meeting with a supervisor. The school also believed in me a lot, they trained me how to teach their curriculum. When I receive feedback about my work they don’t hurt my feelings at all they just tell me how to improve in a pleasant way. In the morning when I wake up I look forward to going to work, because it is a pleasant atmosphere to be in. 

Mariske van der Merwe / Art

HOD Preschool and Gr 1 Jean

I am grateful to be back at The Vine after 5 years of being a stay at home mom!

During my training time in January, I was inspired again with the philosophy and the living idea of the divine co-operation of the Holy Spirit as we teach the children. I look forward to having the Art platform again to give glory to Him and seeing the children grow in their drawing abilities.

Allen George / PT teacher

HOD Preschool and Gr 1 Jean

I have been working at The Vine School for almost eight years. I have never experienced such camaraderie, love and unity. Today I have a different view of education and its core values. Being introduced to Charlotte Mason's approach to education has been life changing. I am a different person today, because of it. I've learned that education is more than just numbers and letters in the classroom; it is a lifestyle. I apply the philosophy in my sports lessons to have a non-competitive environment. The children love this approach, because they don't feel pressured to out-perform their peers. Instead they get the satisfaction of improving their own performance. I never knew that education can be this loving and joyful.

Olivia September / Aftercare Supervisor

HOD Preschool and Gr 1 Jean

The Vine school has been my home away from home for over 5 years. Working in the aftercare for all these years has brought me much joy, love, happiness, strength and a feeling of belonging.  Working with such great staff (my friends), their love for God is truly evident in their character.   Charlotte Mason’s teachings have taught me that each child is born a person and they are all unique in their own way.  I love being at The Vine and I love them all.

Talitha Nikelo / isiXhosa Teacher

HOD Preschool and Gr 1 Jean

Charlotte Mason's philosophy reminds me that as a teacher I am a vessel of God empowered by The Holy Spirit Himself to impart knowledge to children and seeing them as a reflection of God's character. It is a privilege and an honour to be part of an environment that holds a divine mandate. Paying attention to the heart and mind of the child.

Mavis Gili-Picane / Aftercare Assistant

Deputy Principal   Gina Smith place holder

I joined The Vine School working as a part-time after-care assistant. I experienced the warm, kind environment that welcomes everyone with love and care. The school is filled with the grace of God.  I observed that it is rare to meet a family as organized and calm as The Vine School. They always know exactly how to behave.  The staff are warm and welcoming and the children are disciplined and well-mannered.  They treat everyone with love and respect.

I happily recommend The Vine School.


Admin Staff

Janice Thorne-Smith / Marketing and Communications

HOD Preschool and Gr 1 Jean

I started at The Vine School teaching Grade 3, and even though I had taught for 13 years I learned so much more about being a teacher from the Charlotte Mason / Ambleside philosophy. Not only did I see the students grow academically but also in their love of learning and relating to the authors and content we studied. I grew along with them in my own understanding of subjects like composer study, picture study, nature study and handwork and how these subjects add richness to everyday life.  It was natural for me to move into the marketing of our school since I had seen first hand the influence that the philosophy has on students and staff alike.

Raquel Meyer / Receptionist / Principal’s PA

Deputy Principal   Gina Smith place holder

I joined the school in a “temporary” role, relieving the receptionist when she went on maternity leave, and have been here ever since, serving for a year as the Aftercare Supervisor before taking a permanent position as receptionist and Principal’s P.A. I have two children at The Vine School.  Watching the way God is moulding them, with a rich nurturing education and a love for God that is displayed and taught through the teachers, is truly a blessing.   I love being part of the school family.  It’s a place where we work, laugh, fellowship and - best of all - pray together.

Beulah / Bursar

Deputy Principal   Gina Smith place holder

I have worked in the education industry for six years. I have been at The Vine School since 2019 and am grateful for the opportunity to be part of this God-fearing family. I love being around the kind-hearted, loving and well mannered children here at The Vine. I am a mother of two and have a son at The Vine and am very excited to learn more about Charlotte Mason’s principles and to instill them in my children's lives.



Nadine Arendse / Part time Fundraiser and Marketing Assistant

Deputy Principal   Gina Smith place holder

It is indeed a privilege to be a member of a team dedicated to serving the Lord and one another to the utmost of our capabilities. These are exciting times and it is a pleasure to be working alongside Janice Thorne-Smith. The school's expansion means intense promotion of our school, showcasing “a living education” far and wide, and ensuring crucial funding for long-term sustainability. It's truly a delight to be side by side with the next generation, deeply rooted in the vine, in the most meaningful of ways.



Margaret Serafin/ Librarian

Deputy Principal   Gina Smith place holder

First and foremost, I love The Vine School for the warm and welcoming atmosphere I feel on my arrival at the school every day.  Working as the Librarian is a wonderful blessing for me.  I am able to observe each pupil grow and thrive during their school years, and I enjoy  building trust and respect in all our interactions.  It’s a privilege to facilitate their literacy skills and foster a deep love for reading and books. 

Many children do not have easy access to books so it’s wonderful that children at The Vine School have a library with a vast and varied selection of inspirational and informative books.

Maintenance Staff

Selwyn Smith / Facilities Manager

Deputy Principal   Gina Smith place holder

My employment at the school was a godsend at a critical time in my life. I found that the Christian ethos that the school subscribes to is practiced and not only professed. Recently, a student surprised me with a written note of thanks, which was refreshing, especially from such a young person. Here are little treasures awaiting discovery, sometimes in plain sight. I really value the peaceful atmosphere at the school, which contributes to developing some key relational skills within the whole school community.

Nwabisa Matawane

HOD Preschool and Gr 1 Jean

I love working at the school because of the caring atmosphere that exists. There is a good balance between the student's personal growth and academic development. I am very pleased that my child's extra lessons take place at the school and not somewhere off-campus.  The students are taught the Gospel and this encourages me to know that they can grow in relationship with God while they are very young. I value the partnership between parents and teachers to assist the students when there are any issues. I admire the teachers' commitment to do their very best for their students.

Thembelihle Tshoka

Deputy Principal   Gina Smith place holder

I am happy at the school because everyone is kind to me. I am proud of the school because the teachers and management staff respect me. I admire the pleasant way the teachers speak to the students. The children play in a safe environment and I enjoy watching the teachers help them resolve their differences fairly.  I have an important role to play in keeping the school grounds neat and tidy.

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