Teacher inspires learners to dream big

2019-02-28 06:00
Gerhard Grundling, Grade 6 teacher at Gamtoos Valley Primary, was able to follow his dream and achieve his goal with the assistance of Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm’s education bursary programme.                                               Photo:SUPPLIED

Gerhard Grundling, Grade 6 teacher at Gamtoos Valley Primary, was able to follow his dream and achieve his goal with the assistance of Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm’s education bursary programme. Photo:SUPPLIED

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GRADE 6 Gamtoos Valley Primary School teacher Gerhard Grundling’s journey to become a teacher, is now a beacon of hope and inspiration to learners who want to follow their dream.

Grundling is one of seven local school reading-assistants who took up the opportunity to study teaching with the assistance of the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm’s education bursary programme, put in place specifically for these reading assistants.

The bursaries are education focused, designed to foster an interest in the teaching occupation while addressing the national shortage of quality educational practitioners.

Having developed a passion for teaching while working with children at the horse-ri-ding school, Grundling began studying towards a teaching diploma at a local university after matriculating, but had to transfer to distance learning due to financial constraint.

“After moving back home and starting my UNISA studies, I became a reading-assistant which gave me an opportunity to learn so much about teaching, in a practical way, while earning some extra money to go towards my studies.”

Even with this income, finances were very short, but it never deterred him. “Becoming a teacher was my absolute dream and I knew that I would do whatever it took to finish my qualification. When I heard that I would receive a bursary to complete my studies, it was such a huge relief for me and I was beyond excited.”

After five years of studying, Grundling is now a Grade 6 teacher at Gamtoos Vallei Primary School.

He gets to teach some of the children that he used to help as a reading-assistant when they were in the foundation phase. This has been a great advantage for him to better understand each child and address specific learning challenges head-on. He is also aware that these learners, who come from diverse backgrounds and home environments are best approached with kindness and tolerance.

“I know their backgrounds and their struggles, which has helped me to adapt my approach so that they can continue to grow and learn better,” says Grundling.

“I also know that for some children, I am the only person who compliments or encourages them, so I make an extra effort to offer support and enrich their lives. This makes a big difference personally and their school work improves along with their confidence - this is a wonderful feeling.”

Grundling supports the belief that an emotionally safe and supporting learning environment makes children feel valued, respec-ted, and connected to and engaged in learning. He sees this role as more than just a teacher. He works at making school a safe place for each of his learners.

“I truly do my best to make the classroom a safe haven for each child, no matter what their background or what they face. I believe that every child needs to feel acknowledged in a classroom in order to learn and reach his or her full potential,” says Gerhard.

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