Meet the 'Olympians' of Western Cape teaching

2016-11-07 14:16
Henry Alexander, who received a lifetime achievement award (Supplied)

Henry Alexander, who received a lifetime achievement award (Supplied)

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Cape Town - From using movement, rhymes and songs, employing puppets as teaching aids, to advocating that "maths is fun," top Western Cape teachers were acknowledged for their contributions at an awards ceremony last week.

"Our good teachers should be regarded as our marathon champions, because in this business you sure need staying power," provincial education MEC, Debbie Schafer, said in a speech delivered at the awards ceremony on Friday.

The theme of the awards was "Our teachers, our Olympians".

Establishing Bernadino Heights High School in Scottsdene as "an oasis of hope in the community" is the secret to Henry Alexander’s more that 30 years of success at his job.

He received the lifetime achievement award for his transformation of the school into one that boasts excellent technological, cultural, and sporting facilities.

Marika Smit, of Bottelary Primary School in Kraaifontein, received an award for excellence in primary school teaching.

She was inspired by her own sister’s struggles at school.

She designed her own learning material and created a "colourful and friendly" environment in her class and loved using song and dance to reinforce learning, the department said.


(Marika Smit)

Hermanus High School’s Life science teacher, Miralese Wiegman, brought her subject to life by incorporating experiments, dissection, videos, and visits from experts. She was the winner of the award for excellence in secondary school teaching.

She started an environmental awareness tour for Grade 10s and a "service pillar" club to promote outreach work.

(Miralese Wiegman)

Sharone Opperman, of Dellville Park Primary School in Pacaltsdorp, was a hairdresser before she became a teacher. She won the excellence in Grade R teaching award.

She used unconventional methods such as puppetry and role-play to enhance her students’ listening and speaking skills. Her reward system allowed students to get a tuckshop treat.

(Sharone Opperman)

With a focus on special needs and inclusive teaching, Tanya Ernstzen of the Ligstraal School in Paarl East, has proven her excellence over the last 19 years.  Originally a volunteer at the school for special-needs children, she became an occupational therapist and then a foundation phase teacher.

She worked with autistic children, shaping her teaching methods to their individual needs and placing them in relevant working experience.

(Tanya Ernstzen)

For excellence in teaching physical science, Portia Naidoo of Bernadino Heights High School, created interactive learning experiences and encouraged pupils to get involved in various expos.

As a life-long learner, she was always attending various professional development courses.

(Portia Naidoo)

Bernadino Heights had another superstar, in the form of mathematics teacher Stephen Adams.  He used games, songs, a smart board, and computer resources to prove the fun-filled potential of his subject.

(Stephen Adams)

Techno-whizz educator Cecelia Campbell, of Mossel Bay's Erika Primary School, used her white board, data projector, and laptop to teach the alphabet song, diagram song, and maths games. She used e-books and YouTube to enhance the classroom experience.

(Cecelia Campbell)

The principal of Blomvlei Primary School in Hanover Park, Dawn Peterson, was acknowledged for her go-getter leadership in creating a safe school in a community struggling with drugs, crime, and gangsterism. All good deeds at the school – ranging from good behaviour to academic achievement – were acknowledged.


(Dawn Petersen)

The equivalent award winner for leadership in a high school, Conrad Koegelenberg of the West Coast School of Skills in Saldanha, was determined to unleash the talent in every pupil, teacher, and parent. He believed his approachable demeanour helped ensure a positive environment.


(Conrad Koegelenberg)

At the awards ceremony, Shafer acknowledged all these contributions.

"A person who is appreciated will always do more than is expected. Tonight we are here to appreciate you, because you have done more than expected.

"Your resilience, unreserved passion and undeniable commitment to education will leave an indelible mark on the lives of our learners and together we can make a huge impact on our province and our country," she said.

Read more on:    debbie schafer  |  cape town  |  education  |  good news

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