Teaching makes a difference.
This is the sentiment Muizenberg High School principal Dave Shaw leaves with staff as he retires.
The school said farewell to Shaw on Tuesday (“Shaw takes a permanent break”, www.peoplespost.co.za, 31 January 2016).
Learners gathered on the schoolfield to form “1993 – 2017”, representing the 24 years Shaw has worked at the school. He joined the school as a deputy principal, and took over leadership of the school 17 years ago.
Over the last two decades, the school has transformed into a multicultural school, says Shaw.
When he started at the school there were around 350 learners, the majority of them white. The total number of learners has almost doubled and learners are now from various races and areas.
“This has happened naturally,” he says. “At this school there is respect for each other. It doesn’t matter if we are different. There are wonderful children at this school.”
Although Shaw’s mother was a teacher and his father lectured law, he initially chose to pursue studies in law at Rhodes.
“I realise a lawyer gets people out of squabbles and decided I wanted to stop young people from getting into those squabbles,” he says.
Having coached rugby and held leadership roles in the Scouts and the army, teaching seemed like a natural fit.
After over 40 years of teaching, Shaw plans to take time to pursue other interests, such as photography and travelling locally. But he will not be leaving education completely, with continued involvement teaching theology at the George Whitefield College and acting as an external examiner for UCT’s education department.
As a farewell gift, Shaw was taken on a helicopter tour of the peninsula before viewing the learners’ display on the schoolfield.
Shaw will be remembered for his devotion to both staff and learners, says acting principal Leonie Jacobson.
“He will be remembered for his mentorship. His legacy is giving others the opportunity to grow. He always believed a child could change if we just help. He taught us this job makes a difference.”
The helicopter ride and welcoming on the schoolfield was followed by an assembly in Shaw’s honour.
Shaw says his favourite memories are of children prone to misbehave – “the pupils you work hard at because they are not doing what they should”.
“You spend time with them and eventually they turn [around]. Often they come back and thank you that you cared,” he says.