Ms Pam Van Dyk, once a pupil of the school and a graduate from UCT, became Superintendent of Erinville in 1999. She has a long background of working with teenage girls as a high school history teacher, Head of Department, Deputy Principal and Hostel Superintendent of a similar all girls’ high school.
She notes that she was never a boarder herself, but carries a great many memories of her teenage years spent at Rustenburg. A particularly poignant recollection is of Ms Margaret Thomson, principal at the time, who was affectionately nicknamed ‘Tommy’, but never to her face! Ms van Dyk vividly recalls that ‘Tommy’ had a pet spaniel named Shadow. Shadow used to walk in front of her which meant that pupils could always tell whenever Ms Thomson was approaching. The forewarning was often appreciated. Ms van Dyk remembers, "I had nothing to do with the hostel back then. We were not allowed near the building and certainly never saw the inside. I just knew that I felt very sorry for the boarders who were 'imprisoned' there, had to wear special dresses on a Sunday, and were hardly ever allowed out."
Much has changed at Erinville since then and Ms van Dyk feels that this is essential in mirroring the changes in South Africa, in South African education and in the outlook young people now have.
"My greatest challenge is to create an atmosphere which is de-institutionalised and where each girl is related to individually. This is difficult to do in a building which was designed to operate as an institution, where there are institutional expectations and traditions. Parents do not treat their children like that in their homes and I believe that Erinville girls will respond better and be much happier if they are not treated like that in the hostel either. I do believe in providing a strict framework for the girls which keeps them safe and provides emotional security. Some rules are strictly applied, but ultimately Erinville is a home for young people who benefit from support and understanding far more than having every minor offence documented. I aim for our boarders to feel loved, wanted and happy, but also that they understand the consequences for their actions as they are part of an extended family."