Our College Head is Debbie Martin, who was born in Durban in 1964. She grew up as one of five children on a farm in Amatikulu in Zululand. Debbie is married to Alan, and they have three children, Thomas, James and Frances.
“My vision is for St Anne’s to be known and admired internationally as it proves to be the fertile ground to grow and support women of significance who will impact on others positively through their warmth, confident sense of identity, use of their voice, leadership and meaningful actions.”
Debbie has a wealth of experience in all aspects of school life. She was appointed as College Head in January 2021, after joining St Anne’s in 2017 as Deputy Head of Pastoral Care. Prior to joining the St Anne’s staff, Debbie served as Deputy Head of Academics at Maritzburg College.
OUR FIRST OLD GIRL TO HOLD THE POSITION OF COLLEGE HEAD
Debbie attended St Anne’s as a pupil and was Deputy Head Girl in 1981. She has maintained close ties with her alma mater, and many of her school friends are still dear friends. Debbie and Alan (whom she met while at St Anne’s), married in the school chapel, and their daughter, Frances, matriculated from the College in 2019.
Debbie holds the College and its values close to her heart. She is our first Old Girl to become College Head, and the first female Head since Mrs Sheila Morgan, who left at the end of 1974.
EDUCATION AND CAREER
Debbie studied English and Dramatic Arts at UKZN, and completed her Higher Diploma in Education (HDE) in 1985. She started her teaching career at Kuswag High School in Amanzimtoti. In 1987, she moved to Maritzburg College, where she taught English and Drama, and, while teaching there, she studied towards her Bachelor of Education degree. After a few years, she took a ten-year break to raise her children and join her family’s retail business. She returned to College in 2001 and went on to become the Head of English, and later, the Deputy Head overseeing Academics.
A CAREER CALLING
Debbie has wanted to be a teacher from as far back as she can remember. She is intrigued and energised by adolescents and enjoys interacting with them. At St Anne’s, she is driven to inspire the emergence of powerful, influential, modern women.
It was a natural progression for Debbie to take on the responsibility of College Head from 2021. She says: “I am passionate about education and young people, and I embrace the privilege of this exciting journey.”
CULTIVATING A SENSE OF BELONGING
Debbie’s vision for the College is to create safe, brave spaces and a strong sense of belonging for everyone on the campus. Transformation should be an authentic, continuous process of open communication to ensure St Anne’s is a haven for the positive growth of all girls and staff.
“We will ensure a holistic education which gives young women a relevant, powerful springboard to have a significant impact on their families, workspaces, and communities whilst finding personal fulfillment.”
Debbie draws inspiration from a number of women currently, and the common qualities she particularly admires is their courage, strength, compassion, sense of justice, conviction and eloquence. The fact that they are also human and flawed, and yet they have made such a positive impact on so many people while juggling numerous roles is also encouraging. To Debbie, they are remarkable women but are not perfect superwomen as the quest for perfectionism is unrealistic and in fact, harmful. Debbie lists Kamala Harris, Jacinda Ardern, Brené Brown and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as some of the women for whom she has so much admiration.
In her spare time, Debbie is an avid, eclectic reader who loves gardening, walking her dogs and spending time with her special family and friends. She is in awe of the natural world – particularly flowering plants, beautiful trees and wildlife. Her faith is a source of strength and comfort to her and anchors her life.
“Even though education is my work, it’s also my deep passion. I read about it all the time, and I never tire of discussing approaches to education and listening to other people’s views on it.”