Last week Friday, 20 September, Patricia Bailey served her final day of work as an educator at Levana Primary School and closed the chapter on her almost 40 years as a teacher.
She was celebrated one day prior, on Thursday 19 September at a special farewell assembly in her honour.
Bailey, who is sometimes referred to by her learners as Mummy, lives in Strandfontein and has been teaching learners at Levana Primary School in Lavender Hill for 11 years.
She began her long journey in education in Lavender Hill at Prince George Primary School where she taught for three years, following which she moved to Marine Primary School in Ocean View where she worked for 24 years.
Having become a well-known figure in each of the schools she taught – and the communities at large – she said: “I was like a mother figure to them.
“They come and they hug me, and sometimes even give me a little kiss.”
She notes that the children have made her experience as a teacher great, but adds that another highlight of her time in schools has been her appointment to a position that she feels very passionately about.
“The highlight of my 40 years is that I became chairperson of the Health Promoting Schools (an international health-promoting concept introduced in Western Cape schools in 1995) and I’ve always believed that your health is your wealth,” she said – a lesson she teaches the children.
At her emotional farewell assembly attended by alumni from the school, Levana Primary School’s principal, Andre Lamprecht saluted the long-standing teacher.
Grade R learners read a poem for her, saying: “This is the end of working for someone else and the beginning of living for yourself.
“We’re wishing you all the best.”
Joy Benjamin, also a teacher at the school, wished Bailey all the best on her new journey. “You’re starting a new chapter in your life and we want to wish you everything of the best. We once again want to thank you for your warmth and your kindness, for everything you’ve done and left for us here, and we love you lots. Enjoy your retirement, you deserve it,” she said.
In closing, Bailey told those at the gathering: “I am very sad to leave you all, but I am tired and I need a break.”
She told People’s Post that she will always be there for her learners and colleagues, despite her retirement and she plans to continue to serve in the future.
She plans to make a trip to Thailand mid-year next year to visit the elderly, hoping to put smiles on their faces by letting them know they are loved.
“My mum was bed-ridden so I know what it means to them for us to just be there. I’m also going to speak to the youth and get to the roots of their problems – but I’m also going to take a lot of me-time,” she said.