Shaun ‘Fush’ Fuchs is so much more than just a brawny ex rugby player and provincial powerlifter… he’s also a beloved headmaster who came out as a gay man in SA in the 80s

And now he is adding published author to his list of achievements

In his memoir Fush, Shaun tells the story of a life dedicated to changing the lives of others. From his school days at Jeppe High School for Boys and his activism heading up the SRC of the South African Student Teachers Union,
to his time as an army infantry officer and his memorable teaching career, Shaun has always had an irrepressible instinct to succeed and to lead no matter what happens, no matter the challenges.

Because he has had to leap hurdles and overcome adversity almost every step of the way, Shaun has sought to leave the institutions he has been a part of as better, more diverse, more inclusive environments, where children feel safe and everyone has a space to be themselves.

Covering love and loss, pageants and coups, life-affecting homophobia, false accusations of terrorism, and the love of hundreds of students who have passed through schools Shaun has been part of, Fush will make you laugh, cry and reconsider what it truly means to educate and lead by example.

All4Women spoke to Shaun about his memoir – the inspiration for the book, the people who shaped his life, his passion for teaching and helping young people feel safe in their environments

Shaun resigned as MD for Reddam at the end of March this year to pursue his own ventures, one being the launch of his book, Fush, and the other being the founding of S2 Innovations, a company that optimises organisations (including schools) through Innovative Technology.

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“The book tour has sadly been limited by COVID-19 lockdown levels which is a pity as I really want to get into the schools and talk to staff and students about inclusive environments, tolerance and mutual respect.”

From getting to know Shaun a bit through reading his book, I found out he was inspired by a headmaster who carried on teaching a maths class in his head position, and he resolved to do the same because of his love of history – and teaching. He misses the classroom contact with pupils.

“I miss the classroom terribly! I had so much fun teaching. The energy that takes place in the classroom with the students and the learning process is incredibly exciting and stimulating. You can never get bored as each lesson and interaction is different. It is one job where every 30 minutes or so, something different will take place.”

Shaun describes painful moments in his life as events that strengthened his resolve to be open about who he is, but says that he has always tried not to dwell on negative influences and events, no matter what, and that is not always easy.

“However, once you understand that there are certain things that have happened and you cannot change them, then you move on. I often feel that individuals who constantly go back to negative events and dwell on them cannot let go, tend to build up unnecessary anxiety and stress.”

Shaun shares his opinion on the employment of counsellors at schools and describes how the importance of student wellness was one of the motivators for him to found S2 Innovations PTY LTD

“There are many schools, particularly private schools that employ counsellors to work with the students. Unfortunately, student wellness is not always an area that schools tend to focus on with all the challenges they have on a daily basis. This was one of the motivators for me to found S2 Innovations PTY LTD. Together with partners in Holland, we have developed a tool that effectively tracks wellness in schools (students and teachers) and businesses (employees).

“By drawing on my 30 odd years of experience in education, and together with a team of coding engineers, Industrial and Educational Psychologists, our App, GetInsight, uses a set of easy to answer questions that takes about 20 seconds to complete.

“This is done on a weekly basis, the data is then fed completely anonymously into a central data base and through the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence delivers onto a friendly dashboard critical information for management teams to be able to take immediate and effective actions to help and improve student and employee wellness.

“Anxiety, stress, harassment, discrimination are a few of the areas that can now be effectively dealt with. As far as I am aware we have nothing like this in South Africa. What has been even more exciting for me is that my Co-Founder of S2 Innovations, is a past student of mine, Stephen Tyszowiecki… exciting times!”

Advice for teenagers to help them develop entrepreneurial skills while still at school?

“My belief is that entrepreneurship is intrinsic. You either have it, or you don’t. Often it is about identifying opportunities that no one else can see. My advice would be to read, review, watch as much as possible on serial entrepreneur and learn from them, you will soon develop your own traits as an entrepreneur. Any student reading this that gets excited by these comments is already an entrepreneur.

If you were 18 again, would you do anything differently?

“WOW! No, not really. I have loved my life and the journey I have taken. I am who I am and where I am because of decisions I made and people I met along the way, good and bad.”

FUSH By Shaun Fuchs (with Tudor Caradoc-Davies) is available in SA bookstores now.

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