A Grassy Park school principal, recognised for being an inspirational role model, was chosen as a winner in the Woolworths Educational Programme and MySchool Teacher’s Day national competition.To commemorate the competition’s 10-year run, it was decided to add an additional category for principals. Kannemeyer Primary School principal Ridwan Samodien won the category.“When it happened I was quite surprised,” says Samodien, mentioning that this was not his school’s first time entering this competition, but that it was the first time a nominated candidate from the school won. “It was unexpected, but once the shock had settled, a warm, fuzzy feeling of appreciation and affirmation resonated with me,” says Samodien. “The organisers contacted me in September and brought out a video crew to do a promotional video about the school.”Samodien says he is well informed about the past and this makes him the mindful person he is. He says it may take generations to overcome the layers of slavery-colonial-apartheid imposed conditioning. According to Samodien, it is up to principals and teachers to restore children’s sense of belonging, generosity and independence.“We all carry the scars of our broken past. It is edged into our DNA, and there are many broken and fractured people,” Samodien says. Referencing Reverend Paul Volkwyn. he says, “We as teachers need to create a ‘home away from home’ environment at school and to instil a sense of belonging.”Samodien, whose career in education spans nearly 40 years (of which 19 have been as a principal), says we need to be mindful in tackling the huge challenges faced by the education sector.“At present, 80% of Grade 4’s cannot read with understanding. We have to do everything in our power to instil a love for reading,” says Samodien. “We need all the adults, every single citizen, to assist us in getting our kids reading for enjoyment.”One of Samodien’s many accomplishments as an educator is being the inaugural founding principal at Capricorn Primary school in Vrygrond.“The joy and privilege of starting a school from scratch, with not even a paper clip or drawing pin, and then after six months to walk away from a fully functional school has been a great experience,” Samodien says. His career began in the 1980s at the historical Salt River Moslem Primary School when it was still known as Kipling Street primary. According to Samodien, the school was closed down three years ago by the department of education. Samodien was nominated by Grade 6 learner, Leah Mohammed, who praised Samodien for the role he plays in building an environment suitable to learning in an inspired context.“We feel we belong here,” Mohammed wrote in his nomination. “Mr Samodien is passionate about giving the best to the learners and making the school a place where children want to be every day.”Woolworths educational programmes and events national marketing manager Thando Tladi says this campaign aims to recognise and reward teachers who routinely go beyond the call of duty.“We congratulate all the incredible 2019 winners of the Teachers Day Competition who have highlighted the life-changing role that teachers can play for our children,” said Tladi. “Our panel of judges comprised of individuals from Woolworths, MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet programme, the National Education Collaboration Trust as well as the National Department of Education. “Mr Samsodien is a shining example of true leadership and commitment to quality education in our country and we are honoured to recognise him for all his efforts,” Tladi said.