More than a job

2010-06-30 00:00

A BURNING desire to work with children is what caused Margie Odell to abandon nursing in pursuit of a teaching career.

Today after 33 years of teaching and working with an estimated 18 000 children, she believes her career has been more than a job. It has been a life calling which she is not quite ready to turn her back on even though she is retiring.

Odell bows out of the profession at the age of 65 after 17 years as the commander in chief at Ridge Junior Primary. While sad, she leaves with a great sense of satisfaction.

“It’s been wonderful working with the children and making a difference in their lives. I think I would have hated to work in England where I could not touch or hug the children. They are spontaneous, loving and so naughty. But they are so responsive to love. They say the funniest things and sometimes you have to turn away to hide a smile.”

On the whole, Odell believes her relationship with parents has been wonderful. She has also loved working with her staff.

“I have felt intense warmth which I have received wherever I have taught. That is what I will take with me.”

Odell began her career in 1967 at Pelham. In 1968 she moved to Krans­kop where she spent a year before taking a break after the birth of her son. Three more sons followed before she went back to teaching in 1978.

Upon her return, Odell spent 15 years at Richmond Primary School. She started off as a junior primary teacher but left in 1993 as the head of department.

From there, she moved to Ridge to take on a position as deputy principal. The next year, she was appointed as the principal. Odell said she chose the primary level route since she believes it is of vital importance to develop the root system at this age for pupils to do well at higher levels of education.

Living in a technological age, she regards the biggest challenge facing teachers today to be the fact that children find it difficult to listen.

Odell also laments the poor training teachers now receive and described the closure of teaching colleges as “a crying shame”.

“I think the practicality of teaching has been lost and students are spending too little time in classrooms with the children. I think they need to spend more time in classrooms working with experienced teachers who can act as good role models. That will help bring passion back.”

She hopes to leave behind a legacy of good relationships, enthusiasm and determination, and a culture of treating every child as an individual, and of developing each child’s gifts.

Having had the privilege of teaching all four of her sons, Odell leaves two of her grandchildren at Ridge after spending the past five years as their principal.

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