Teacher on top

2017-11-14 06:00
After only 10 months at the chalkboard, Andre Rix has been named High School Teacher of the Tear in the province. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

After only 10 months at the chalkboard, Andre Rix has been named High School Teacher of the Tear in the province. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

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Education is the answer to uplifting a community.

This is the belief of a Lentegeur man who is making big strides in the teaching world.

Andre Rix (31), a teacher at Westridge High School, won top honours at the Western Cape education department’s Year of the Teacher awards last week.

Having started out as an accountant, his love for teaching was realised while giving back to the community.

Rix worked as an accountant for five years while also tutoring at various schools after hours to help learners with Maths, Physics and Accounting.

“I did a B.Com Honours and worked in the corporate world as an accountant. I always believed I wanted to be an accountant,” says Rix.

“In Grade 11 we were asked to write an essay about what we wanted to become after school. Accountant was my first choice and math teacher my ­second.

“I did not know that it was destined for me at that time. I did tutoring for 10 years as a way of helping the ­community.”

After five years he realised his passion did not lie in accounting.

He then completed a PGCE course and changed direction to become a teacher.

“We were supposed to choose two subjects to major in, but I chose three. I was the only one doing that,” he says.

His stint as a tutor helped him solidify his decision to teach.

His win last week was unexpected, but a sign for him that his dream of making a difference in the lives of youngsters was being realised.

“I tutored but being a formal teacher is new to me. I only started teaching 10 months ago,” he says.

Nominations for the awards opened in August and were presented to the learners for nominations.

Rix was chosen as one of the top 10 teachers in the province, out of hundreds of nominations.

He was named the winner at the awards ceremony on Friday 3 ­November.

“When I got the call from the minister’s office, I thought I was in trouble because I thought the process had ended. I could not believe it when they told me I was a finalist,” he says.

His nomination was the result of several letters and video submissions from his peers, learners and their parents.

“The minister told me: ‘Mr Rix, your learners, their parents and your colleagues, they love you.’ And the learners have told me: ‘Sir, you are the best teacher.’

“I could not believe it. I walked up to the stage, holding my heart in disbelief,” he says.

“I was happy just being a finalist. When they announced the winner, I was shocked. The children all told me I deserved it, but I had doubts. My tears just fell. I could really not believe it.

“Here I am the winner and I only started 10 months ago,” he says.

His passion for education has led to a change in the learners too.

“The children love school again and their results have improved,” he says.

These were included in the submissions, which were handed to Rix after the awards.

The experience has been humbling and the honour is still sinking in, Rix says.

He is also involved in the school’s athletics club. He is an avid runner and has completed several half and full marathons. He is preparing for his first Comrades next year.

His other extramural activities include coaching, a Cape Malay choir and a band called the Juvie Boys.

He is a member of the Mitchell’s Plain Titans Athletics Club and is actively involved in the weekly Mitchell’s Plain parkrun.

“This year has been a blessed year for me. Since the start of my teaching career, a lot of doors have opened for me,” he says.

His move from the corporate world was one of his greatest decisions, he says.

“I have knowledge and I want to share it and I know I am making a difference,” he says.

He has big plans for his future, starting work on a Masters degree next year. His end goal is to hold a doctorate by the age of 51.

“When I was an accountant, I did not have this much respect for teachers,” he says.

“I want to make a difference. If you stay focussed on that one goal, the money and the stress will not be important,” he says.

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