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Introducing Shelly Matthews: A visionary leader with a passion for continuous improvement



Image: Shelly Matthews, Head of College at Reddam House Waterfall
Shelly Matthews, Head of College at Reddam House Waterfall

Shelly Matthews, a seasoned educator with a passion for excellence, took on the role of Head of College at Reddam House Waterfall in January 2024. With a career dedicated to fostering inclusive learning environments and promoting academic achievement, Matthews brings a wealth of experience and a clear vision for the future of education at Reddam House Waterfall. In this Q&A session, she shares insights into her personality, leadership philosophy, goals for the school, and personal interests.


Q: What do you believe are the qualities every teacher should have?

A: A love for learning, a good communicator and collaborator, empathetic, patient, strong work ethic, belief in all children and adaptability.


Q: What is your favourite quote?

A: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela


Reddam House Waterfall Campus
Reddam House Waterfall Campus

Q: If you could give your teenage self-one sentence of advice, what would you share and why?

A: Embrace self-discovery: Take the time to explore your interests, passions, and talents. Try   different hobbies, join clubs or organisations, and engage in activities that allow you to learn more about yourself. This will help you build a strong sense of identity and pave the way for personal growth.


Q: What children’s book do you most cherish? Why?

A: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I think it’s is because my children loved the story so much. I read the book to them many times and it is one of the special memories of our happy times we shared together.


Q: What are you most grateful for in your life?

A: My family.


Q: What interests do you hope to pursue this year?

A: I am learning to play golf.


Image: Reddam House Waterfall Campus
Reddam House Waterfall Campus

Q: When solving a problem in life, how do you approach it?

A: I take time to ponder the problem before proposing a couple of possible solutions. After much reflection and possibly gaining some input from others, I decide on how to proceed. The process cannot be rushed. 


Q: Do you think the journey or the destination is more important, and why?

A: The journey. Along the journey you will make a lifetime of beautiful memories and learn many valuable life lessons. A destination is reached, and the experience is short lived.


Q: What motivates you in your personal and professional life?

A: I want to be the best possible version of myself. I don’t want to live with regret. My goal is to live a values-based life and to make a difference in the lives of young people.


Q: What do you do in your spare time (interests and hobbies)?

A: I love to read and I enjoy photography.


Q: Do you have children and, if so, what are their ages?

A: I have two children: Shannon (26 years old) and Connor (24 years old).


Image: Nonhlanhla Sibiya, Student at Reddam House Waterfall with Shelly Matthews, Head of College at Reddam House Waterfall
Nonhlanhla Sibiya, Student at Reddam House Waterfall with Shelly Matthews, Head of College at Reddam House Waterfall

Q: What is your leadership philosophy?

A: Leadership philosophy for me is about collaboration and inspiring others to do their best work. I am grateful that within a school as I have opportunity work alongside a team as well as students, sharing and living my vision while leading by example.


Q: What are the biggest lessons you have learned in your career in education?

A: In my journey as an educator, I have realised that a career in education can be fulfilling and rewarding, but it also comes with its unique set of challenges. Education is fast-paced and ever-changing, so it is crucial to be adaptable to new teaching methods, technologies, and curriculum changes. Teachers and leaders in education need to embrace innovation and continuously update their skills to meet the evolving needs of students. We are all lifelong learners. In the most challenging situations, I have learned that building positive relationships with students, parents, and colleagues is vital for success in education. Effective communication, active listening, and empathy are key to fostering a supportive learning environment.

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