TWO Port Elizabeth educators have been announced as the Eastern Cape winners of the Woolworths Educational Programme and MySchool’s 2018 National Teachers Day Competition. Nicole Venter, a business studies and EMS teacher at Theodor Herzl High School, won the high school category, while Zoleka Zinto, a teacher at WB Tshume Primary School, was named as the primary school winner.Described as passionate about their subjects and determined to make a difference in the lives of their learners, the duo were nominated to the competition by the children in their classes. This year, a record-breaking 33 835 entries were received from school children across South Africa who felt inspired to submit a 200-word motivation about the teacher who has made a life-changing difference to them. In telling their heart-warming, and often heart-wrenching, stories, learners highlighted that there are a great number of devoted teachers in South Africa.In her motivation letter, Megan Potgieter, a Grade 12 learner, said in addition to Venter’s inspirational, innovative teaching which has transformed business studies from the least liked to the most popular subject in school, “Mrs Venter has been the mother and friend to all students in the school. She is the teacher I feel is my safety blanket at school and the teacher that I turn to when I face a problem academically or emotionally.”Sihle Mgca, a Grade 7 learner, chronicled the devastating death of his mother and subsequent abandonment of his father that temporarily derailed his progress as a school leader, good student and sportsperson. He credited Zinto’s care and compassion, provisions of food and school necessities, as well as the constant encouragement and motivation as the reason he has, against the odds, managed to stay in school and continue to strive to achieve.Through the annual competition, Woolworths aims to encourage learners, parents and schools to recognise and reward those teachers in their midst who provide an extraordinary service every day in their communities. Both teachers won a laptop, a R5 000 Woolworths gift card and enjoyed an all-expenses getaway with a partner to Sandton. The two learners who nominated the teachers each received a R5 000 cash prize. Theodor Herzl High and WB Tshume Primary School also each received a R10 000 cash prize.