MBOMBELA – Mike Bownes has taken over the reins from Paul Viljoen, who left behind a legacy of respect, responsibility and tradition as former head of Curro Nelspruit.
Viljoen recently traded the bush for the coast after pursuing the position of headmaster of Northwood School in Durban.
The new executive head of Curro, Bownes, has been married to Helen for 27 years. They have two children Devon (22) who works in the property industry and Shana-Lee (20), a BSc student at UCT.
He moved to Curro in January of this year as head of the high school. He has been acting executive head since Viljoen’s departure at the end of April. He officially filled his position as executive head on
Bownes moved from Michaelhouse in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands after spending 10 years there. He started out as the head of geography and was housemaster of Founders House for seven years. Prior to that he was at Grace College in Hilton. He’s also taught at Kimberley Boys’ High and St Andrew’s School in Bloemfontein.
In his spare time he likes playing golf, trying to keep fit in the gym and aims to soon get back into cycling.
“Helen and I enjoy what the Lowveld has to offer and have been able to visit the Kruger National Park quite often,” he said.
He said that the quote that best explains his leadership style is one of Tyna Charter, head of St Mary’s DSG: “Educational philosophy embraces the concept of balance between the mind and the body, between the temporal and the spiritual, between discipline and freedom, between tradition and innovation, between a sense of self and personal values and tolerance.”
Bownes added that the wealth of opportunity available to students across the academic, cultural and sporting arenas at Curro is striking.
“The staff is passionate and dedicated. The corporate backing of the Curro Group is a big advantage for an independent school. I also believe that our IEB offering in the high school is a strength. Our rapid rise in sporting success, particularly in rugby and athletics, and our vision for this is also a strength.
“I prefer using the term ‘growth areas’ rather than weakness. A growth area is, in my opinion, consolidating the education product we offer after the rapid growth of the school since its inception. Another targeted area of growth is tradition and school spirit – it takes time to establish positive traditions in young schools. This is an area of focus. The academic results will always be an area we will seek to improve on.”