My Township Schools Teachers Who Inculcated the Spirit of Excellence in Me

2015-05-04 08:43

I have decided to take a stance that I have taken-that township schools are just as good- because many of South Africans think nothing good can come out of them; however, that’s not  the case. They can be better though, provided all of the teachers: exhibit the spirit of holistic excellence in their day to day activities, they do not reduce their learners to nothing; are fair; persistent; innovative, and value diligence and most importantly, they unconditionally love this noble profession. When I reflect back at my education I realise that there were brilliant teachers who expected nothing but the best in us. These were the teachers who spent sleepless nights thinking of how to be better teachers. I feel indebted to six teachers in particular who had a positive influence in my life.

  1. Mr Popo Masilo David (Mangaung Intermediate School)

As I pen this I am overcome with emotions that can’t be compared to anything because Mr Popo illustrated the common characteristic for which teaching is known: a piece of art. This is the gentleman whom you would hate to miss his English classes because not only would you have missed his jokes but his energy, love for life and sense of Ubuntu. You will come bored, hopeless and discouraged from the preceding classes but two minutes were enough to want to be a teacher, English teacher to be precise.

I was in grade nine when Mr Masilo introduced the parts of speech to us. It was right at that moment that most of my linguistic challenges were erased. Mr Masilo taught me that instead of saying “I loves life”, I should say “I love life”. He taught me the active and passive verbs. I remember one day when I had said “the important of water” and he would gently say “my son, we say “the importance of water”. Who can forget his indescribable love for orchestra! Who can forget his undying love for brilliance! This is the teacher who would buy us newspapers in an effort to improve our English. I learnt from Mr Popo that when I read either a book or magazine, I should have a dictionary alongside me for when there is a word whose meaning is foreign to me. We knew he was excited to teach us when he would sweat profusely to an extent that we thought it rained. Thank you Mr Popo Masilo. I am a better person today because you taught me. Thank you.

  1. Mrs Mangakane (Mangaung Intermediate School)

You are yet another teacher from Mangaung who convinces me every day that it is not all doom and gloom in our township schools. Mme Mangakane taught me Natural Sciences in grade 9. She is the reason why I was caught between doing Science or Commerce in high school. Although mme Mangakane was always met with disruption and disrespect from my fellow learners, she never lost the momentum and love for her subject. It is her who taught me that as a teacher there will always be learners who disrespect and degrade you but continue to do your work with distinction.

This is one teacher who made the elements of the periodic table look so easy and fascinating. How can I forget her ability to explain all parts of the heart in a way that would propel you to want to be a medical doctor at that very moment! Mme Mangakane made the subject matter so interesting that I hated Fridays and loved Mondays. She loved her work that even now she has not developed wrinkles that many teachers, especially young, have developed. I do not have words for the level of indebtedness I have for her. Thank you.

  1. Mrs Lebitsa (Shakhane Secondary School)

How do I start to thank you mme Lebitsa? How do I even begin to write this without shaking? Mme Lebitsa was my grade 11 and the first three months of my grade 12 Economics teacher.  One thing you first see in mme Lebitsa is a mother before you see a teacher. Not once has she applied corporal punishment to any of us, amid our class’ reputation for being the Yizi Yizo of Qwaqwa, but when we got to her class two things emerged: discipline and attentiveness. The reason was because she was incredibly passionate about her subject, Economics.

You would swear we were in the midst of Mooketsi Simon Mohapi or Mike Schussler because of the level of analysis of economic concepts she brought to her Economics classes. I started to read widely on economic issues because of this teacher. Mme Lebitsa made the subject so easy and interesting that all that I wanted was to be an Economist.

Not only was she insistent on us to read widely without being part of the boat but she also walked the talk. It is teachers like mme Lebitsa who inculcated the spirit of holistic excellence in me; she never settled for any mark lower than 50 per cent in her subject. I do not remember getting any grade lower than 60 per cent in Economics because of her ability to make complex concepts look easy. My alma mater, Shakhane, is one of the worst performing schools in South Africa but it has one of the best Economics teachers in the country. I thank you mme Lebitsa.

  1. Mr T.Z Motloung (Mookodi Secondary School)

Mr T.Z taught me Economics for almost six months of my grade 12 because Shakhane was forced to close its grade 12 doors because of precarious academic prospects. Some of my school mates and I went to a nearby school, Mookodi. The thought of leaving mme Lebitsa drove me crazy but little did I know that there was an equally great Economics teacher in my new academic environment.  I wrote all my grade 12 Economics standardised assessments with ease because this gentleman never left any stone unturned. Mr T.Z, as he’d come to be pronounced, epitomised contagious hope, excellence and hunger for success.

He is one other teacher who influenced me to want to be a better person in life. He may have taught in an under resourced township school but he made damn sure that the potential in me was realised. He went all out to buy portfolios for learners who did not have the means to do so out of his pocket.  I did not know how to become an academic doctor and eventually be a professor until I met Mr T.Z. He always shared with me stories of young people who have succeed in life and after he had shared those with me I would work so hard that  I did not think of nothing but be a highly successful person.

  1. Mrs Mollo (Neo Primary School)

I was uncontrollably a naughty grade four learner to an extent that police were called to my grandma’s house to call me to order. My mother had just died in 2000 and my academic performance was one that would even embarrass the initiator of a 30 per cent promotion requirement. But Mrs Mollo turned it around. Township schools teachers, this is how you deal with learner misbehaviour: acknowledge the good that they do. I say this with conviction because this is what mme Mollo did to not only turn me into one of the well-behaved learners in my entire school but also one of the well performing learners in her English class. It was a sunny afternoon in the year 2000 when no learner knew how to translate the following sentence from Sesotho to English:”A man chops down a tree.” To mme Mollo’s astonishment I unusually raised my hand and superbly answered her question! Her excitement upon realising that one of her most disruptive learners got the “difficult” answer right still resonates with me even to this day.

Her words, “well-done, son”, —words I had never heard before, words that were reserved for “smart” kids were now told to me.  It is then that my otherwise annoying childhood mischief became my history. I started to behave so well that I started to aspire to be a priest. I am indebted to you Mrs Mollo for you spared me a miserable life that would have landed me in jail. That moment you praised me changed my life for the better. I would not have done it without teachers like you. I would not probably even be in a position where I can write this with clarity and pride.

  1. Ms Mohapi (Shakhane Secondary)

When it comes to mme Mohapi, one word crosses my mind: 'free'. This is one teacher around whom I felt at ease to share anything because I knew she would not judge but support me. We are in an era where teachers tend to judge their learners for one reason or another but with mme Mohapi you knew you were safe. This is the teacher who would pour every cent she had for me to have transport money to go to the Qwaqwa campus of my beloved University of the Free State to get application forms. Whenever my Accounting grades were poor, she'd quickly ask what was wrong and how she could help. You see, it is not all doom and gloom!

You guys may not have had the best opportunities that I have been exposed to in my life so far but you should be so proud that one of your products is one of the best young leaders in South Africa and one who is destined for greatest things in this world. Thank you. Thank you and thank you. I do not have words to express my gratitude. God bless.

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