Our Principal, Gavin Keller, has been at our school since 1993. He is the school’s second Principal, following in the footsteps of the Founder Principal, John Florence.
Mr Keller is a SACS “old” boy, having completed his Matric in 1976 after which he went on to study at Port Elizabeth Teachers’ College, Cape Town Teachers’ College and Rhodes University. He started his teaching career at Kirstenhof Primary School in Cape Town in 1985, after which he moved on and was appointed Head of Department at Muizenberg Junior in 1989. He became the Principal of Sun Valley Primary School in 1993.
Gavin is passionate about education. He firmly believes that if the first few years at school are dynamic—a child will develop all the necessary skills, concepts, attitudes and values, necessary for success in life. Success, he believes, is dependent on having a good self-value, being in a learning organisation where there are high expectations, and being given the skills to cope effectively with what the world demands. Therefore, it is the school’s role to develop a good self-value in each child, to set high but realistic, expectations, and to predict what the world will demand by the time the learners reach graduation.
In order to achieve this, Mr Keller and his staff have set about to create a curriculum that is fully integrated with exciting, future-based, relevant and dynamic programme organisers. Supported by outstanding teachers and visionary leaders, the school has become well known both nationally and internationally as a model outcomes-based school. Mr. Keller travels regularly within Southern Africa and abroad sharing his expertise on Brain-based Teaching and Learning, Curriculum Integration, Outcomes-based Learning and Teaching, Co-operative Learning, and Inclusive Education. He has run seminars and workshops in Nambia, Botswana, Swaziland, United Arab Emirates and in most provinces in South Africa.
He is currently the CEO of Silvermine Academy, an association incorporated under Section 21 which serves as “The Business Behind Public Education”. This company raises money to make sure that our public school has the capacity to function at the same level as some of the best schools – found anywhere in the world. The Academy runs the Sunbird Pre-School with 75 students, a Home Base after-care unit for 120 students, a Teaching Academy offering a B Ed degree for 13 full-time students, a School Uniform Boutique, an Independent High School with 125 students, a Music Academy with 300 students, Birdie Num Nums - a caferteria & that feeds the students and staff, and a Funscapes (Art & Culture) programme. Profits generated by this company are invested into Sun Valley Primary School.
Mr Keller enjoys keeping abreast with international education trends. In 1999 he attended the International Confederation of Principals’ Conference in Helsinki, Finland and in 2002 he participated in the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) convention in San Antonio, Texas. In 2004 he attended an Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Convention in New Orleans. In 2006 and 2008 he attended the Brain Expo in Orlando, Florida, USA and returned with a great deal of information and knowledge on whole brain strategies for teaching and learning.
Mr Keller is an active member of the teachers’ union, NAPTOSA. He serves as a presenter on their Professional Growth Team. This team runs weekend seminars for teachers in the Western and Eastern Cape. Here, teachers and school leaders are equipped with the latest methods and approaches used internationally. He is the past President of the Western Cape chapter of the South African Principals’ Association (SAPA) and served as the National Executive of this Association. He currently serves as a consultant to SAPA, guiding them in professional development programmes and running the academic programme of their annual conferences held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
“Whether I work with teachers in wealthy, modern, well-equipped schools or teachers who work in rural, under-privileged environments—I remain astounded how South African teachers have an insatiable desire to improve their teaching capacity. There is an urgent need in our country for good teacher training from practioners who know what they are talking about!
“School is about making memories! We have 13 years from Grade R to Grade 12 (a mere 13 000 hours) to offer them the best possible education, but more than that—we have 13 years to generate memories that learning is fun and that school is a good place to be.”