Teachers for Change: The jewels in our schools

By admin
03 January 2013

You’ve nominated the teachers who make a big difference in the lives of our children. Here’s what’s in store for them during the year.

THERE’S a lot of pessimism around the world but it’s good to remember the world has been pessimistic before and circumstances will come when it will be pessimistic again.

“There are ways of dealing with pessimism. Optimism and hope energise people and bring vitality to organisations. We can either sit and wallow in our pessimism or tackle the challenges.” These words by the late Professor Jakes Gerwel, who served as director-general in the office of former president Nelson Mandela and was vice-chancellor of the University of the Western Cape and chancellor of Rhodes University, sum up why we at YOU are so passionate about teachers – especially the optimists among them who empower children for the future.

We call them Teachers for Change. From the days of Young YOU, as our education pages were previously called, to the current YOU in the Classroom features, this magazine has always been committed to empowering the youth with knowledge. And who better to do this than stalwart teachers who daily push the envelope in schools and communities?

When we decided last year to reward 12 of South Africa’s best teachers with choice technology and other aids that would empower them, it was more than just a tribute; we wanted to make it easier for these educators to pass knowledge on to learners who yearn for it. Now we’re getting ready to announce the winners: 12 special people who excel in front of the blackboard; selfless educators who put their shoulder to the wheel to help get their schools and communities into shape with positive energy and a healthy dose of daring.

We received more than 1 000 entries for our Teachers for Change project from schools bursting with pride, eager to promote their heroes. One school nominated its principal for his exceptional dedication. Not only did he have two treehouse classrooms built, he started dairy production in the school grounds, earning the school first and second place in the SA Dairy Championships for the goat’s milk cheese it produced in 2011 and 2012.

Another nominee is an educator who teaches sick children at a small hospital based school. Some of the learners are orphans, while others’ parents don’t have the means to take care of them. This situation saw an exceptional educator becoming both childminder and carer – each of his learners has his cellphone number so they can reach him day or night.

Then there’s the teacher who sacrificed his holiday and traveled to Belgium and the Netherlands to brush up on his knowledge of teaching learners with special needs so he could educate those in his classes more effectively. Not only did he return with valuable knowledge for his learners, he’s also keen to share it with other educators at district and provincial levels. The contribution he makes in his community even became the subject of a documentary. These are true teaching heroes.

THE PRIZES: FROM iPADS TO TEXTBOOKS

Our Teachers for Change winners and their schools are really deserving of these prizes, which each of them gets: An Apple iPad lab for the school worth R120 000. Each lab contains 20 iPads, each with a cover, WiFi and a 16 GB memory; a MacBook Pro laptop and multi-adaptor; a projector; and an iTunes budget adequate for downloading as many educational apps as the teacher might need.

Each teacher receives an iPad for classroom and personal use courtesy of iSchool-Africa, an initiative of the Core Group, which is the authorised  distributor of Apple in South Africa. iSchoolAfrica also provides all the training and facilitation required for each school. Each teacher becomes part of the iSchool-Africa iPad community where they can share skills and best practice.

An analysis will be done by Oxford University Press of what each teacher’s school needs in terms of textbooks and study guides. After the analysis the school will be supplied with textbooks, reading books, study guides and dictionaries worth R20 000. Each school will also be included in the Oxford Focus School project which offers a range of benefits, including teacher-training workshops.

iPADS

iPads in the classroom empower teachers and learners with the latest technology. This encourages them to experiment and removes many barriers to teaching. “The winning teachers have already proved their potential to create change in the classroom and community,” says Michelle Lissoos, head of iSchoolAfrica. “The iPad offers numeracy, literacy and special-needs apps that will support our winners in their mission to improve skills, engagement, motivation and a passion for learning. “Joint projects and cooperation among learners will not only boost their confidence, it will make the learning process fun and more interesting and empower them to make a difference. Teachers will also learn new skills they in turn can pass on to the children.

“We’re excited to work with teachers who believe in excellence and offer learners the best possible solutions to achieve success. We’re looking forward to seeing the further changes our winners will make in their schools and communities. “Our winning teachers, through iPad and iSchoolAfrica, will have access to a world of quality content and applications. Apps include curriculum-relevant lessons, games, assessments, audio books and e-books.”

POSTERS

As part of the project, Oxford University Press is sponsoring a series of posters specially for our younger readers and their teachers, the first of which  appears with this issue. The first poster has a mathematical theme, with times tables on one side and the periodic table on the other. Make sure you get the second and third posters in the series in our 21 February and 21 March issues. Each poster, suitable for primary and high schools, is ideal for the classroom wall and can also be used at home when doing homework.

“We believe education is the gateway to success,” says Botho Mothibi, schools director at Oxford University Press. “The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow and the investment we make in the education of children will shape the future growth of our country. Teachers play a huge role shaping young minds and that’s why we’re so excited about the Teachers for Change project. “To celebrate the successes of our teachers is to celebrate the future successes of our country. Our hope is the educational posters in the magazine will go a long way to help teachers and learners in the classroom.”

GET INVOLVED

Many companies are sponsoring the Teachers for Change project and we’re grateful to each of them. It costs R150 000 to donate an iPad lab to a school but all donations are welcome, big or small. Every bit helps. YOU readers can also make a difference in their personal capacity and help us to sponsor another iPad lab.

If you’d like to make a donation, e-mail Elisma Roets at elisma.roets@media24.com or call 021-406-4599.

MORE INFORMATION ON FACEBOOK

Through Facebook we’d like to create a support network where readers can ask questions and experts can provide input. Teachers can also use this platform to share tips and encourage one another. For more information go to facebook.com/youmagazinesa.

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