Trevor Waller matriculated at King David Victory Park in 1985. He then chose to study in Israel rather than join the South African army. After graduating from the Hebrew University with a degree in English Literature and Education, Trevor went on to complete a post-graduate Teacher’s Diploma in Open Experimental Education at the David Yellin Seminary in Jerusalem. It was here that Trevor was exposed to the revolutionary and progressive theories of Moshe Caspi, the father of the open school movement in Israel. Because his Hebrew was not good enough for higher grades, Trevor qualified as a nursery/foundation phase teacher (making Trevor a rare male species in the world of education at the time). During his teacher training, Nelson Mandela had been released and Trevor decided to pursue his passion for education and return to South Africa to be involved in the changing educational landscape of the country.
Trevor spent ten years teaching at various schools and was also one of the founders of The Foundation School in Johannesburg, a bridging school designed to assist children from township schools to gain acceptance to the previously ‘whites only’ schools. Trevor headed up the management of the school, and also ran a Matric Rewrite Programme and Adult Education Centre from 1993 to 1995. He then embarked on a two-year journey of travel and work, which included teaching in London, making sandwiches in Sydney, and a very brief stint at a Jewish Day School in Melbourne. Trevor also worked at King David Sandton as a bridging class teacher in 2000/2001, making him a double alumnus!
Since returning to South Africa in 1999, Trevor has moved from primary school teaching to the field of personal and entrepreneurial development. For nine years, he worked as Head of the Raizcorp Academy, where he was closely involved in the field of entrepreneurial education and development. In 2016, Trevor decided it was time to walk his talk and left the world of employment to set up his own business. During this time, Trevor also qualified as a logotherapist, using Viktor Frankl’s (the author of “Man’s Search for Meaning”) philosophies to assist people to find meaning and purpose in their lives.
Education remains Trevor’s passion and he is now involved in various projects where he supports entrepreneurs to build their businesses while building their own resilience. Trevor uses a course he has developed, called “I Matter”, to do this. This life-changing course allows participants to see the connection between their thinking and their reality and provides tools for improved communication. Trevor also offers the course to employees in both small and large businesses. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the course, which enhances people’s resilience to deal with uncertainty and to live life with less fear, is growing in popularity and is changing mindsets and workplaces all over South Africa.
Trevor lives by his personal philosophy of “Trust The Process” (TTP). “I live with gratitude for, and faith in, both God and life,” says Trevor. As Viktor Frankl said: “We do not ask life what the meaning of life is. Life asks us, what is the meaning of your life? And life demands our answer.”
Trevor’s latest project has seen him travel to rural KwaZulu-Natal where he is working with 30 entrepreneurs who have all survived Covid and are building businesses to support themselves, their families, and their communities. “This is the kind of work, I live for,” says Trevor. “The ability to truly impact grassroots communities in South Africa, and to give them the knowledge and tools to thrive. When I experience their hunger to learn, to grow and the excitement displayed by people who have been neglected for so long, I am able to reflect on my own life and how grateful I am for the opportunities life has afforded me.”
In 2018, Trevor wrote a book called ‘The Lessons’ for his beloved niece who was leaving South Africa for Israel. It contained 22 'lessons for life' – tools & principles he had learned through experience and education, ideas he had developed whilst teaching and training, and life lessons that he wanted his niece to carry with her as she made her way into young adulthood.
At the start of the first 21-day lockdown in March 2020, Trevor decided to post a lesson a day on Facebook, and added a little Corona 'twist' to the mix, knowing what a confusing and difficult time it was for so many people. With the enormous positive feedback he received, Trevor quickly turned the lessons into a blog and then a book. “22 Lessons for Corona Time and After” is Trevor’s personal take on the importance of living with meaning and purpose.
In addition to his education and training endeavours, Trevor is also a writer. He wrote Allon Raiz’s two best-sellers on entrepreneurship, a memoir for a prominent South African Jewish family, and is currently ghost writing a book for an Israeli hi-tech businessman . Trevor was also privileged to write the memoir, “You are Here. A story of presence” for his King David classmate, Stefan Brozin, which describes a family’s courage in the face of losing their beloved wife and mother to cancer.
As a result of the popularity of his book, “22 Lessons for Corona Time and After”, Trevor aims to build the brand in the hope of sharing the simple wisdom of the lessons with as many people as possible. A second edition of the book is currently being prepared for print and Trevor's dream is to have it published in Zulu.
“We live in Africa, yet there is almost nothing available in the field of personal development for people who do not read English,” says Trevor. “I would really like to start learning Zulu,” says Trevor, before admitting that his inability to speak an African language is one of his few regrets in life.
“I love being South African. I believe that South African Jews are uniquely situated to impact our society in ways that many other communities don’t have. It may be a hard place to live but it is also an amazing place to be, with a lot of opportunities to make a real difference. We often lack perspective, comparing ourselves to the wrong places. The majority of us have lives that are blessed in so many ways. I prefer to focus on what is, and what I do have, rather than on what may be missing.”
Trevor’s most recent blog, written in response to the chaos that engulfed South Africa for a week in July expresses this sentiment poignantly.
I am replacing the three C’s “out there” (cold, Covid, and chaos) with my own 3 C’s: to stay clear, calm, and courageous. I can work with those three C’s; the others are beyond my control. I will be clear in my thinking, calm in my actions, and courageous in my responses. I will turn the predicament into my own achievement. And that achievement is to stay hopeful no matter what. Positivity is no less ‘real’ than negativity (although the naysayers will often have us believe it is). They are merely different uses of your imagination. If anxiety or hope are on offer, my choice is hope. Always was; still is.
For more on Trevor, visit www.tswconsulting.co.za.
“The gifts I got from King David only became apparent to me after school when I realised how privileged I was to receive such a high quality of education. Barney Meyers, the famed principal of KDVP Primary, was a huge inspiration. He knew every child by name and, in 1970s South Africa, he made sure we had a weekly lesson in Sotho! It was impossible, at the time, for me to know how revolutionary, as well as progressive, this was. My Grade 4 teacher, the late Hilda Shakinovsky was undoubtedly my most inspirational teacher. She knew how to instil a love for learning in every child and devoted herself to making learning fun. Years later when I became a teacher, I used many of Mrs Shak’s techniques in my own teaching. Other teachers who inspired me include Michelle Miller who taught us what was really happening in South Africa in the ’80s, making history current and relevant, as well as Bernice Goldstein who allowed me to teach a Grade 8 class when I was in Grade 10. This was my first experience of real teaching, as opposed to ‘playing school’, which I had done my whole life, and I knew that that was what I wanted to do with my life.”