Remembering our no. 1 supporter.
Headmistress Dina Gonçalves was our Trust’s biggest cheerleader. Not one to seek the limelight, she attributed her award as the Best Secondary School Principal in Gauteng in 2018 to the Ruth First Trust, maintaining that this was the differentiator which made her stand out. As we grapple with the gap left behind on her passing, we remember and reflect on the impact she had on our Ruth First community, and our favourite memories of her.
“Ms Gonçalves’ big, beautiful eyes were always looking out, on into the world and all it had to show for itself.
She was the advocate supporting our initiatives and made us believe almost to a fault that with enough effort and the right fighter in your corner, absolutely anything in the world was possible.
Would I have learned to like maths? Would I be an engineer? Would I believe that I can contribute something good to this world? Would I be determined to be someone who can make a difference? You nurtured the core components of my being. Honestly, who would I even be without you Miss G?
The only thing that brings me comfort in knowing that you are no longer here to spread your brilliance with the world is that the person you were to me, you were to so many other young women who made their way through Jeppe. I know that your efforts are replicated 100-fold in the lives that you have shaped and moulded and those lives which by a second or third hand will be shaped and moulded for the better by the hearts, spirits, and minds of the people you touched. And that through them and the legacy you have left, you live on in those lives, in everything they touch and in the difference they make in the world ad infinitum. What a full life you lived. What a sad season this is. Re a leboga Miss G. We will miss you.”
Pelonomi Moiloa, Head Girl 2010, RF Trustee and mentor
“She entered our Grade 8 class and I'll never forget the colourful outfit she wore which showcased not only her outer but inner beauty as well. She was so bubbly and did not instil terror in us as Grade 8 learners. She made us feel like she was a proud mother as we were about to start our journey as Jeppe girls.”
Kamogelo Moila, RF 2021
“At our Matric Dance, Ms G walked up to us and asked to take a picture to show her friends how beautifully the girls in her school ‘dress up’. I was flattered. She always embraced the small moments in life and that's something I'll forever cherish.” Kgomotso Sekhukhune, RF 2014
“When Ms G was handing out our Maths textbooks for matric, she gave me one covered in yellow. And she said it belonged to a Jeppe Old Girl who went on to become a doctor. She then proceeded to refer to me as Dr Mpinga and it stuck. I loved it and it kept me motivated to keep pushing through even though I never thought I would get into Med school and now I'm in my 3rd year at Wits. I am still convinced she did it on purpose but I'm so grateful it happened.”
Mandisa Mpinga, RF 2015
“Ms G was full of life. She also knew how to dress. She always looked elegant and had the most beautiful smile.
She made maths so much fun. She always encouraged me to be better and she saw potential in me. Potential I never thought I had.
She was so passionate about everything she did. She carried Jeppe Girls so gracefully. I am so glad she got to witness the building of the bridge before her untimely passing. She worked so hard for that bridge. Every Jeppe girl knows how hard Miss G worked to make it happen.
What an exceptional woman! The Jeppe community will never be the same without her.
She will forever be remembered. RIP Ms G. Fly high.”
Ngalula Tshiembi, RF 2013
“Of the many talents our incredible Headmistress possessed, the ability to solve a maths equation was one I witnessed. Ms G ardently navigated the difficulty of a Tour De Maths paper. I recall her swift hand moving along the page, determined and yet still patiently teaching me along the way as we sat alongside in the computer centre. She often prompted me to think further, beaming in approval when I surprised myself with a new thought. As the epiphany hit her (I caught on later) there was an elusive quality that possessed her problem solving, I was simply glad to bear witness to her greatness. We both exclaimed in joy as we reached our conclusion. Math has never been more enjoyable and it’s one of many memories I will always cherish.”
Nomagugu Khumalo, RF 2019
“I met Ms Gonçalves during my scholarship interview. After talking to her, my life was so much enriched. She was an inspirational, vibrant and energetic person and a role model to many. She gave me the warmest welcome in the school. Though we met briefly, she left a very strong impact on me."
Nyaradzo Moyowachena, RF 2021
“A thousand negative thoughts were running through my mind when suddenly a warm hand gently gripped my shoulder. I looked up to see Ms G. She smiled at me reassuringly and said, ‘You are here because you are a champion, don't be nervous. You've got this.’ The reassurance she gave me that day was a huge confidence booster. It felt as if she sensed my nervousness and was an angel soothing it away. Ms G, you will forever be in our hearts.”
Sheridyn Naidoo, RF 2021
“During my scholarship interview, we were discussing some of my life challenges and it got really emotional. Ms G handed me a tissue to wipe my tears and comforted me. She did not rush for me to carry on with the interview because time was running out, instead she told me to take my time.
I found that very sweet and it got me really excited about coming to Jeppe the following year. I really wish I could have hugged her. I never got the chance to and I honestly regret it.”
S’nothile Goqo, RF 2022
“One day during break Ms G stopped to chat to my friends and me. We had a very interesting conversation about the school’s history and how flower show came about. I distinctly remember her radiant smile throughout the conversation and her laughing gracefully when a joke was told. I loved how caring and gentle Ms G was. We really lost a gem as the Jeppe nation. May she rest in peace.”
Tina Kunene, RF 2019
“There was Ms G the principal, who was very wise and proactive. Then we had Ms G the netball coach who was very supportive and enthusiastic about the sport, always open to learning and encouraged us to push ourselves. And Ms G the maths teacher who truly elevated my love for Maths which is the reason I am pursuing the degree I am.
She only had love to give. She showed that in all that she did, she loved all her Jeppe girls so much and she would do anything to make their dreams possible. From the first time I met her I’ve always wanted to have a big heart and be a remarkable leader like she was. She’ll forever be my number one role model. Her energy used to warm the school. Everything about Ms Gonçalves will be painfully missed.
Thank you Ms G for everything, you are the reason I am who I am today and I will forever love you so much. Your legacy will never die.”
Tshaamano Mabuba, Head Girl 2021 and RF 2017