School’s out for GHS ex-principal after 43 years in the classroom

2013-04-10 00:00

AFTER more than four decades of teaching, the former principal of Girls’ High School, Mary-Ann Akerman, has packed away her box of chalk and is ready to wind down a little.

She already has a piano tuned and will start playing soon. She is also starting a computer course on Monday.

“I’ll get involved in all sorts of things,” she told The Witness.

After spending 43 years in the classroom, the veteran teacher certainly deserves a break.

She retired at the end of the first term this year.

Akerman’s love for children attracted her to teaching and at the age of 21 she was already practising.

Her career began in Durban and she joined the staff at Girls’ High in 1980.

“Firstly, you teach subjects, but most importantly you teach children.

“You get a lot of feedback by spending time with kids and whatever you give you get back 100%,” she said.

One of Akerman’s highlights was when former Model C schools opened to all race groups.

“This opened our eyes to different cultures. It took a bit of time to happen but it was a very positive thing and it added diversity to the whole school.”

She said she would encourage any young person who was interested in the profession to pursue teaching and not think of it as a second grade career.

“I’ve always been proud to be a teacher and have been privileged to work with some children who were more intelligent than me and get them where they need to be.”

She recently visited a dentist, who turned out be a former Girls’ High pupil.

Akerman said it made her happy to see old girls getting on in life.

She described her career as “rewarding and fulfilling” and said she would miss everyone at the school.

“I think what makes the school special is that everybody works together for the good of the school,” said Akerman.

“There are good vibes and the children can feel that too.”

Girls’ High deputy principal Valeria Fowler said: “As a friend and colleague she always epitomised generosity, intelligence, wisdom and compassion.

“Her colleagues appreciated her willingness to help, which went far beyond the academic sphere.”

Fowler said Akerman was able to instill self-belief in her pupils and share with them her love of English, so that they could develop and flourish under her care and guidance.

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