Even those of us familiar with the geography of South Africa and the southern province of KwaZulu Natal will not be familiar with the very small town of Boston. It is home to 153 people who milk cows and talk ‘dairy’ most of the day.
However, one of its best exports has made her way to Southern Hills Christian College – introducing Mrs Jennifer Groom.
Following a youth that included boarding schools, a gap year in the United Kingdom working at the famous Oratory Preparatory School and numerous tertiary studies which now allow her to be tri-lingual, Jennifer comes to SCEA with the knowledge that “God has a plan for all of us, and he is the ultimate provider and perfecter of our faith.”
Jennifer (and her husband John) had plans to move to Germany and be a part of a Christian mission there. Sadly, visa troubles closed this door and the students at Southern Hills are now the rich beneficiaries of Mrs Groom’s Religious Education lessons as she delivers lessons and talks at school assemblies that are reaching the hearts and minds of today’s teenagers.
“There were people who really shaped my life and my faith in fairly tumultuous times growing up. I hope I can be like those people who helped me when I needed it most,” said Jennifer this week.
Dr Andre Van Rensburg, the school’s Head of Curriculum, has high praise for Jennifer: “Seldom have I seen someone so comfortable and confident with speaking God’s word in front of an audience.”
What makes a person comfortable with sharing their faith in front of teenagers?
“We all need a level of direction, especially in those adolescent years. There were a few key people along the way with my faith. One teacher in my schooling, Mr Andrews, gave weekly bible studies in our boarding school and was a great role model in consolidating my faith. That was crucial for me.”
Jennifer has had the opportunity to teach in South Africa, England and now in Australia, which has afforded her the opportunity to share the gospel with students of all ages and stages:
“I believe that teenagers sometimes feel apprehensive about where they are at, what their life plan is and how things are changing for them. They can search and search, or they can go to the ultimate guide who can help them and inform them.”
Dean of Students Mr Joel Vallance is rapt with Mrs Groom’s positive influence on the students at the College: “Jennifer is just what we need. She lives out God’s grace and the students here see her as someone they can confide in and they respect her and listen to her opinions on different subjects.”
So, what’s with the talking stick?
“It is exactly what it says: students in my class can speak when they have the talking stick. Its originally from the Native American tradition. It works!”
Southern Hills Christian College continues to grow in its enrolments, recently crossing the 400-student mark for only the second time in its history.
Since 2017, the College has doubled its enrolments and College Principal Mr Paul Beacham is thankful for new and existing staff that are passionate about gospel-centred education:
“We are very blessed to have Jennifer and others that live out their faith. Parents are searching for schools that really care for their children and I am pleased to say that we are attracting great teachers and support staff who are wonderful assets to our organisation.”