The Mountain Cambridge School’s new primary school headmaster, Anrieke Olivier, views her role as a calling to prepare a generation that is ready for the real world.

“I think I was born a teacher. I grew up in a teaching family. My dad has a Doctorate in Education, and my mother was a speech therapist at Meerhof School and in private practice for 35 years. Since I was little, I had one dream: to teach,” says the energetic educator, well-known for her passionate teaching methods.

Anrieke was born and raised in Hartbeespoort. After school, she received a full scholarship to study teaching. During her studies, she worked as an intern teacher from the age of 19. After completing her Bachelor’s degree, she was awarded an additional scholarship to complete her Honours degree in Education. Anrieke holds an Honours Degree in Early Childhood Development and Foundation Phase Education and has completed postgraduate studies in Barriers to Learning and Learning Difficulties. Recognised for her dedication, she earned a full scholarship and internship at Africa’s largest private education provider.

“I specialised in learning difficulties in my postgraduate studies because I have a passion for identifying and solving problems. It was important to me to know how to spot a potential problem and what to do about it. I believe in early intervention and have seen many success stories in my teaching career. Having a mother as a speech therapist also inspired me to support learners who have the potential to excel with the correct action plan,” she says.

Her early career focused on developing assessment instruments and conducting teacher training workshops across South Africa. Since joining Mountain Cambridge School in 2011 as a Grade 2 educator, she has completed numerous specialised certifications and played a key role in obtaining accreditation and establishing MCS as a Thinking School with the University of Exeter in the UK.

Anrieke teaches mathematics with a focus on removing the “stress” from the subject. “A learner’s emotional well-being and mathematical skills are closely linked. If a child is stressed or anxious, they can’t make plans and solve problems. One has to look at a child’s well-being and then concentrate on mathematics. I focus on eliminating anxiety from mathematics as it negatively affects learners’ problem-solving skills. I cultivate a growth mindset in the learners to embrace the process and learn from their mistakes. I teach Grade 2 and 3 mathematics and believe you have to hold math in your hand before you can hold it in your head. Math lessons in my class are filled with manipulatives, play dough, counters, and even pizza when we do fractions!”

Anrieke Olivier was appointed deputy principal of the Foundation Phase in 2020 and now serves as headmaster. She recently co-authored two children’s books with her Pre-Primary and Foundation Phase teachers to encourage critical thinking.

Beyond teaching, she is passionate about her family. “I live and breathe teaching, but my family is everything. Spending time on holiday with them is most precious, as I get to catch up on their lives and just ‘be’ with them in the moment. Especially since my husband and I work long hours, family time is treasured. I have so much energy and use family time to recharge!”

She also loves walking. “I go for a long walk every morning to clear my head, recharge, and visualise my day ahead. My job is a calling, and my superpower is transforming dreams into action plans to make them attainable.”