We aim to encourage and guide children to achieve their full potential in a Christian environment in which they feel safe, secure and happy.
Sunnybank is a place where numerous little persons over the years have learned to take the first steps into a bigger world than just home. They become confident to venture from here to “big school”. Our school was established in May 1974 under the supervision of Mrs Bee Elliot, Mrs Renee Schwikkard and Mrs Yvonne Glasspool and soon had +- 30 children, most of whom were full day children. Granny Ryan (Renee’s elderly mum) had a small flat here and cared for the very early children. She sat with them while they built puzzles and if they had built 2 or 3 puzzles before going out to play they got a sweet! In 1978 Bee left Newcastle and Liz van Niekerk (who was already working at the school) and Yvonne Glasspool (who would later become principal) purchased a share in Sunnybank and continued its “good work”. At that stage the school catered for about 50 children and the numbers slowly increased to 80 children. Liz moved on to start Bergsig (currently Huttenpark Kleutersentrum) and Renee moved to the family farm. After 30 years of service Yvonne Glasspool sold Sunnybank in 2007 and went on a well deserved pension. Sadly she passed away in 2014 but her legacy continues. Since January 2008 Sunnybank has been owned and run by Mandy van Staden and learner numbers increased significantly. In January 2012 we became the English feeder school for Huttenpark Primary School and our Grade R classes are part of Huttenpark. We purchased the property next door and we now accommodate almost 200 1-6 year old children in 10 classes and in 5 separate play areas. Sunnybank has always given children good grounding in preparation for Grade 1. Over the years we have seen many Sunnybank learners who are now parents bring their own children to Sunnybank because they remember their time here with happiness.
We are very blessed with staff that has a passion for working with young children. Our teachers are all very loving, caring and dedicated to the task they have in preparing the children to eventually go into Grade 1 and indeed into the wider world. Currently the staff members are:
Principal: Mrs Mandy van Staden
Elephant Class Mrs Bronwyn Apperley
Giraffe Class Mrs Mijlka Egan
Tiger Class Mrs Sarah Kriek
Zebra Class Mrs Cathleen von Benecke
Duck Class Mrs Janine Louw
Mice Class Mrs Michelle Plank
Ant Class Ms Jessica Pienaar
Bee Class Mrs Natalie Schnuir
Ladybird Class Mrs Thelma Nel
Snail Class Mrs Cheryl Muratori
Teacher Assistants: Katie Muratori, Taylor Harkness, Ané Kriek, Lungelo Bhengu, Zané van der Westhuizen and Shiriska Britz.
General Maintenance: Zarius van Staden and Victor Sithole
Kitchen: Martha Nkosi.
Cleaners & Caregivers: Sibongile Mbatha, Gugu Manyoni, Nokuthula Nkosi, Jane Thwala, Linda Ndebele and Ncami Khoza
To start with, Sunnybank had only the main building. It was built as a play centre with ample space inside, a convenient veranda, sufficient toilet facilities, a kitchen and pantry, the office, as well as a small room, shower and toilet. That building is now our Free Play and Rest Area and accommodates the Ladybird Class. The house used as classrooms for the Mice, Zebra and Tigers was previously Aunty René’s house. In December 2011 the Duck Class was added, as well a reception area. In December 2012 we added a shaded area to the Duck Class and in January 2015 our new Ants and Bee Classes were built. A new Maintenance Building was erected early in 2018 and we added the new property next door in 2019 which houses the Snail Class, Elephant Class and Giraffe Class as well as a large indoor playroom and sleeping area. After a busy December 2020 we also added a new restroom facility for our Grade R’s.
The playground used to be veldt grass, camped off with an ordinary diamond mesh wire fence. There used to be a fairly high “bank” or “hill” just to your left as you enter the premises, hence the name Sunnybank. Over the years it has been trampled down under all the little feet and is now almost non-existent. Even today children stand on “top” of the “Bank” when ringing the bell! A Jungle Gym was erected, the adventure area, with commando net, was a later addition. The swings have been repaired or replaced a number of times, as they are in use most of the day! In 2010 we welcomed the addition of a new “Wendy House” which is used for our Dolly’s Corner, a fantasy play area. We later added a separate playground for the Bees and Ants next to the main school building, as well as a play area for the Ducks and the Mice behind the main school building. The playground would not be the same without the glorious trees! How the shade is the envy of many other pre-schools. To climb a tree is a very important step for a child and signifies several important things: He is big enough to reach, he feels the thrill of a little danger and he has control (they will not climb where they do not feel safe) and of course, he is seen by all the other children as “big”. In December 2012 our new “grass” was added and we spend many happy hours playing on our artificial “lawn”. In 2016 a new Jungle Gym was put up and a new Play House was installed in in the 3-4 year old area and we upgraded our 2-3 year old play area with artificial grass. We are continuously upgrading our playground and the latest addition was a new jungle gym in 2019 and we now also have a separate playground for our littlest learners, the Snails and Ladybirds.
Newsletters, emails and WhatsApp communication
The earliest newsletter on file dates back to April 1977. The newsletter always served as an effective way to communicate important matters to parents such as announcements regarding outings, lost and found and dates for events. We still send out termly newsletters but also use emails and WhatsApp Class Groups to communicate and share special moments at school with our parents.
In the past parents joined together for working parties. The toys and equipment in need of repairs were tended to and new equipment was constructed and erected. The Spring – and Autumn teas were always very popular, as was the Spring Parade. The children still feel the mystery and excitement in preparing for a visit by the Easter Bunny and Father Christmas. This is reflected in the eagerness and care they take in making the Easter- and Christmas cards, and practising for the annual concert. The same industrious activity and anticipation precedes Mother’s and Father’s day, not to mention birthdays! Even Baker’s Day, every Friday, receives its’ fair share of expectation.
The children were introduced to many, many, places during the numerous outings: Farms, the clinic, the optician, the fire station, the post office, the pet shop and the game farm to name but a few. The athletics meetings at St Dominics, Busy Bee and Drakensberg Primary were lots of fun. The train rides were every bit as exhausting as they were interesting. This was also the case with the visits to Newcastle Winter festival. Due to the increased number of children, the problems with reliable transport and increased safety risks, the number of outings has diminished, but those we still have, are much enjoyed and appreciated. Our Grade look forward to traveling to Huttenpark for Computer Lessons every second Friday. We also enjoy the annual Soap Box Derby, Hippo-Run and Carnival presented by Huttenpark.
A new theme is introduced weekly to make the children aware of a wide variety of subjects. Our creative work for that week centres on the theme. The children are encouraged to visit the theme table and the theme is discussed in ring time.
Children’s Creative Work
The children are exposed to a great variety of media in which to express their creativity, examples are: painting (making use of starch-paint, mud, water paint etc.), cutting and pasting, construction, collage making, drawing with different materials and handcraft. This is done in a well-planned program so that they do not lose interest and are keen to do their “work”. The learners are extremely proud of their artwork and love “showing off”. They learn new skills, how to follow instructions, and the importance of responsibility. The work also provides them with practice and experience to be able to tackle more advanced work the next time. If at first a child does not succeed, he is encouraged to keep on trying, without ever letting him feel that he failed, this builds his confidence.
The Elephants and Giraffes work from the National Curriculum Statement to prepare them for Grade 1. In the School Readiness programme we cover all aspects of the child’s development namely social, emotional, creative, intellectual and physical needs. We do our best to prepare the children for formal school. We follow a school readiness programme, which covers concepts like: shapes, colours, classification, directionality, laterality, number concepts, spatial perception and many more. The Grade R’s “read” a wide variety of advanced books during “story-time”, which improves their vocabulary and memory. They also learn speech rhymes and songs and actively participate in “music-” and “drama-rings”.
In March, June and again in December a progress report is prepared for every child provided that he/she had been in Sunnybank for longer than 3 months. Our Grade R learners receive a report each term based on continuous assessment. Parents who wish to discuss their child’s progress are free to make an appointment with the teacher or attend the parents’ evenings.
The equipment at Sunnybank is aimed at the development of the child, be it physical, emotional, cognitive, creative or social. It ranges from a well equipped library, puzzles, toys, paint, etc. to the use of waste materials and nature’s bounty in the form of leaves, sand, water, flowers, acorns, etc. The construction area, as well as Dolly’s Corner, opens ways for creative and imaginative play.
To read or tell a child a story is one of the best investments any person can make towards a child’s development and a very rewarding experience for the reader or teller! Once a child is “hooked” on stories, reading will come as a natural next step in his development which is a necessity for coping with schoolwork, etc. Children can watch television and “hear” a story that way, but it cannot achieve the same result as reading.
The wealth of rhythm, in both rhymes and songs, is needed in so many ways; for instance in reading and development of memory. You just have to watch or hear any small child sing a song to understand what the worth is to their projection of themselves. This includes: drama, role-play, fine and large motor development and increasing vocabulary through theme discussions.
All children are welcome to have breakfast and a morning snack at Sunnybank. Morning snack is Rooibos tea and peanut-butter toast (a great favourite). The children who are registered for full day enjoy a well-balanced meal together with a pudding or a fruit every day. For learners staying after three there is an afternoon snack of yoghurt or a fruit and juice (or Milo in winter) and sandwiches.
We are a Christian school and embrace Christian values as part of our daily programme.
We would like to thank each and every one of our parents, grandparents and guardians for entrusting your child to Sunnybank. Over the years parental support had been invaluable. Thank you for supplying us with stationary and waste materials. Thank you for testifying about Sunnybank, many “new” parents’ application forms state that they prefer their child to attend Sunnybank on the strength of what “existing” parents say about us. Thank you for your time and efforts regarding outings, Baker’s days, concerts etc. Thank you for keeping the crown on the head of your child’s teacher, as your child spends many hours at school.
Sunnybank children grow and develop in a warm, loving environment. Every effort is made to develop each child so that he has a healthy self-image and a positive outlook on life in general. Be assured that our aim is to equip your child for an independent and creative future. Sunnybank is not just a school to your child, they become part of a larger family, and many children have made lifelong friendships which have started right here at Sunnybank.
Thank you for considering Sunnybank as the Pre-school for your child.