Embracing Fresh Starts: The Love Trust’s Future Aspirations

Embracing Fresh Starts: The Love Trust’s Future Aspirations

A new year brings with it so much more than simply a new calendar. Internationally, the new year is seen as a chance to set resolutions and have a fresh start.

It brings with it the promise of fresh beginnings and the gentle whispers of hope. In the chronicles of our journey, The Love Trust exemplifies the strength behind a united and unwavering vision. Originating from humble beginnings, our organisation has experienced significant growth since our founding in 2009.

As we approach a new phase for the not-for-profit organisation, with Erik van den Top proudly taking the helm as our newly appointed CEO, we pause to acknowledge our past milestones, celebrate our biggest achievements, and actively plan for a fulfilling future.

Origins and milestones

As a long-standing staff member at The Love Trust, Erik has been with us since 2012. Straddling a dual-role over the past decade as the COO and the Head of Strategy and Governance, Erik has had the privilege of witnessing the organisation’s phenomenal growth first-hand. With his intimate knowledge of our operations, he is the first to say that the vision for our organisation and school remains unchanged and hyper-focused.

In full support of continuing our mission to provide quality Christian education, he passionately believes that his predecessor was a visionary. Martin Morrison, was an exceptional leader, serving The Love Trust for 14 years. He started such an extraordinary organisation out of nothing, and he continued stretching us to grow.

While Erik acknowledges that he and the outgoing CEO are very different, the vision for our organisation remains constant. It’s this vision that pulls both the organisation and Nokuphila School together and the resolute clarity of that should remain, no matter who is at the helm.

With a background focused in IT (Information Technology) in the mining sector, Erik changed tack in 2012 and decided to follow his heart by taking on the role at our organisation. As a long-standing member at Christ Church Midrand, he was already involved through the church on a volunteer basis.

He came on board as the COO (Head of Operations), and with his natural affinity for structure, he began to develop policies and to put important procedures in place.

 Newly appointed CEO of The Love Trust, Erik van den Top.

Present successes

With such a dynamic growth trajectory, Erik recalls that the things that stand out and make him the most proud are all the ‘firsts’. Having started on a small property with pre-primary learners only, all the milestones stand out as magical moments. The first primary school. The first remote training centre. The first internship programme. The first high school class. These firsts are so important because they provide the organisation with a platform on which to build a new programme or area.

Great examples of new firsts achieved in the last year is the inception of our internship programme and our expansion into the Western Cape, with the establishment of our teacher training centre in that region.

Our internship programme has a strong focus on mentorship which allows the students to complete their B.Ed degree on a part-time basis over a four year period. The students study three days a week, and actively hone their teaching skills in the other two days per week at Nokuphila School. These interns will complete their studies whilst gaining valuable teaching experience, putting them ahead of their peers in terms of practical hours. This smartly designed programme also gives us a valuable pool of familiar teachers to look to when recruiting new staff.

Looking ahead: Short-term goals

During the past year we have spent time developing our ‘Theory of Change’, which gives us clarity on what our mission is and guides our short-term goals. This exercise has helped us to crystallise certain aspects of our vision.

Erik’s biggest focus area in the immediate future will be developing our people within the organisation, through investing time in fully developing and understanding the value of the staff. He wants to ensure that the staff are provided with the training and support that they need, and hopes to inspire them. He believes that having happy and fulfilled staff will lead to organic growth externally.

Perhaps the most exciting short-term development is the addition of our first high school class, with the introduction of Grade 8 into our school in January 2024.

With the new ability to extend our learners’ experience into high school, our plan is to introduce Grade 9 into the school in 2025, adopting the same approach of holistic growth that has gotten us to this point. Year-on-year growth that allows room for maximum learning whilst keeping agile, with the ability to adapt as the environment sees fit.  

Ambitious aspirations

Erik’s ultimate goal is to extend Nokuphila’s grades all the way to Matric, but the dream requires a very slow approach to introducing Grade’s 10 – 12. Extending the school at a pace that is sustainable in the long-term is top priority. Our vision for the high school is to equip our learners with a set of practical technical skills that translate into finding full-time work, or becoming entrepreneurs.  

In essence, our vision in the long-term is to develop our high school as a technical school – a costly exercise. Not only does it require special equipment but staff needs are in line with lecturers that come with a very specific skill set. In 2024 we will deeply examine what the requirements are to run a technical high school.

Optimism towards tomorrow

As we embrace the possibilities of a new year, The Love Trust stands poised at the threshold of endless possibilities. Fresh beginnings are accompanied by a surge of renewed energy. All of which is only made possible by the involvement of equally dedicated donors and partnering organisations, that invest vast amounts of energy into our shared vision to uplift future generations through quality Christian education and dedicated and empowered staff. 

As the Greek Philosopher Socrates wisely said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”