End of an era

2018-10-30 06:00
Four of Levana Primary School teachers will retire at the end of the academic year, with three of them teaching there throughout the school’s 41-year history. Here are (from left): Cheryl Rushin, Velma Abrahams, Kamilla Martin and Farida Mohamed. PHOTO: Earl Haupt

Four of Levana Primary School teachers will retire at the end of the academic year, with three of them teaching there throughout the school’s 41-year history. Here are (from left): Cheryl Rushin, Velma Abrahams, Kamilla Martin and Farida Mohamed. PHOTO: Earl Haupt

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For four teachers at Levana Primary School, life will become very different when the school year begins in 2019.

Farida Mohamed, Velma Abrahams, Cheryl Rushin and Kamilla Martin will become the last remaining teachers who have taught at the school since its inception in 1977.

Mohamed remembers how she and her fellow colleagues went knocking on the school’s door as 18-year-olds fresh out of teaching college all those years ago.

“We took a walk down from Square Hill to look for a post because we heard a school was opening up in Lavender Hill.

“The first principal, the late Francois Kiewietz, was taking names to enrol children. When it came to our turn, we said we were not enrolling our children, but that we are coming for posts because we had just finished studying. He gave us each a pen and forms that we had to fill in. Afterwards, when all the parents were done, he gave us the application form to teach here the following year and that was it,” she says.

During the early years, Levana Primary School had a 2000-strong learnership, with as many as 52 teachers over two shifts in order to accommodate everyone.

Meanwhile, Abrahams says teaching is a calling and that they were taught that school means everything, but the time has come for her to take a well-earned break at the end of the year when she retires­.

“Sometimes in your life you think that you have reached your goals. You’ve put everything in which you are supposed to put in even though you think you should put more in, but your body speaks to you,” she says.

Abrahams plans to increase her involvement in the church as well as lend a hand in caring for the elderly as it is one of her passions.

Meanwhile, Rushin remembers all the sporting highlights the school experienced over the years, especially the mini-cricket children who got the opportunity to be flag bearers at a Proteas match at Newlands.

“With the World Cup in 2010, we had the privilege of going to the stadium before the matches were played and we took the children by bus. That atmosphere, it was just great and I will never forget that,” says Rushin.

Martin taught at the school for 10 years before moving to teach in Mitchell’s Plain, but returned 14 years ago after stepping in to fill a vacancy.

“School is everything. Your family is at the back and the school is the most important. Teaching is not about the money, it is about the calling. You come here, you teach the children of Lavender Hill. I did not grow up in Lavender Hill, but I could tell my children that I stayed in Lavender Hill. My sister still stays here. It is not the place. It is what you do in the place. What you do of yourself to bring yourself out and lift yourself up and to make the most of it.”

Rushin hopes the school remains an institution the community of Lavender Hill will look at with pride. “Levana is a haven of hope for the people, the community and the children. People outside would say that they have to send their children here,” she says.

Mohamed will miss Levana when she leaves, but says the children who are still at the school should aspire to improve themselves to make the world a better place.

“When you teach so long in a school like this, you become so attached to the children. You feel sorry for them because you know the conditions they come out of. You are a nurse, a social worker, you are everything in the class. Sometimes you have more time for the children than their own parents. Over the years I’ve been asked why I am still in Lavender Hill. I always answer with a question, why not? The children here need me more than across the line. I always felt that.”

For four teachers at Levana Primary School, life will become very different when the school year begins in 2019.

Farida Mohamed, Velma Abrahams, Cheryl Rushin and Kamilla Martin will become the last remaining teachers who have taught at the school since its inception in 1977.

Mohamed remembers how she and her fellow colleagues went knocking on the school’s door as 18-year-olds fresh out of teaching college all those years ago.

“We took a walk down from Square Hill to look for a post because we heard a school was opening up in Lavender Hill.

“The first principal, the late Francois Kiewietz, was taking names to enrol children. When it came to our turn, we said we were not enrolling our children, but that we are coming for posts because we had just finished studying. He gave us each a pen and forms that we had to fill in. Afterwards, when all the parents were done, he gave us the application form to teach here the following year and that was it,” she says.

During the early years, Levana Primary School had a 2000-strong learnership, with as many as 52 teachers over two shifts in order to accommodate everyone.

Meanwhile, Abrahams says teaching is a calling and that they were taught that school means everything, but the time has come for her to take a well-earned break at the end of the year when she retires­.

“Sometimes in your life you think that you have reached your goals. You’ve put everything in which you are supposed to put in even though you think you should put more in, but your body speaks to you,” she says.

Abrahams plans to increase her involvement in the church as well as lend a hand in caring for the elderly as it is one of her passions.

Meanwhile, Rushin remembers all the sporting highlights the school experienced over the years, especially the mini-cricket children who got the opportunity to be flag bearers at a Proteas match at Newlands.

“With the World Cup in 2010, we had the privilege of going to the stadium before the matches were played and we took the children by bus. That atmosphere, it was just great and I will never forget that,” says Rushin.

Martin taught at the school for 10 years before moving to teach in Mitchell’s Plain, but returned 14 years ago after stepping in to fill a vacancy.

“School is everything. Your family is at the back and the school is the most important. Teaching is not about the money, it is about the calling. You come here, you teach the children of Lavender Hill. I did not grow up in Lavender Hill, but I could tell my children that I stayed in Lavender Hill. My sister still stays here. It is not the place. It is what you do in the place. What you do of yourself to bring yourself out and lift yourself up and to make the most of it.”

Rushin hopes the school remains an institution the community of Lavender Hill will look at with pride. “Levana is a haven of hope for the people, the community and the children. People outside would say that they have to send their children here,” she says.

Mohamed will miss Levana when she leaves, but says the children who are still at the school should aspire to improve themselves to make the world a better place.

“When you teach so long in a school like this, you become so attached to the children. You feel sorry for them because you know the conditions they come out of. You are a nurse, a social worker, you are everything in the class. Sometimes you have more time for the children than their own parents. Over the years I’ve been asked why I am still in Lavender Hill. I always answer with a question, why not? The children here need me more than across the line. I always felt that.”

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