Experience worthy of praise
Dingiswayo Joseph Mthethwa
Orhovelani High School
This principal has made such a significant impact in his community that he has had to come out of retirement to continue his winning streak in the fields of mathematics and science.
“I had actually retired when my school called me back to continue teaching maths and science,” Mthethwa says. “This is because of my track record of producing As in these subjects across all the years that I have been with the school, since 1992.”
After failing to make it to medical school because of his low marks in maths and science, Mthethwa made a vow: “I promised myself that when I became a teacher I would make up for my failure.” He makes a point of driving his matriculants to their first day at university or paying their travelling expenses.
Most of his students have become doctors, mathematicians, engineers and chartered accountants. Mthethwa is proud to say that the youngest doctor ever to graduate in South Africa, at the age of 21, was a product of his teaching. His love for children and inspiration from a former- principal give him the drive to support learners with such enthusiasm.
“I admired the way that man showed his love for us as his students; most of us couldn’t even afford to pay school fees.”
His principal organised a bursary for Mthethwa and many others so they could finish high school.
“He also disciplined us with wisdom- and love, rather than a hiding when we didn’t listen,” he says.
The area where he lives has produced the most maths and science graduates in Mpumalanga because of his influence, he says. This includes his own daughter who has a master’s in civil engineering.
Nonceba Florence Khanyile
Lakeview Primary School
Nonceba Khanyile has been a teacher for 34 years and has taught at Lakeview Primary since 1996. In addition to producing learners who have gone on to achieve distinctions and who have been awarded scholarships to study overseas, she has raised the profile of the school through extramural activities. “I am a choir conductor,” she says. “I have brought many trophies to the school, a feat that has put Lakeview on the map.”
Khanyile is also known for her generosity- in assisting learners who cannot afford to buy school materials.
“I go out of my way to try and assist learners who are in need, either out of my own pocket or through fundraising. In terms of fund-raising, I approach people and businesses for donations to support some of our learners.”
Khanyile, who is a head of department, has established a food garden for needy learners too.
“There is a feeding scheme through which learners can have a balanced meal and be able to focus at school,” she says.
Lakeview Primary recently became a full-service school to include children with barriers to learning.
Meanwhile, to address the challenges of other socioeconomic problems affecting the area (its high crime rate, for instance), Khanyile has employed security personnel at the school.
To encourage academic performance, which is generally not quite where Khanyile would like it to be, she has sourced 20 computers for the school and has even organised library corners in classes to encourage a culture of reading.
”The Star sends us free copies of its newspaper, which helps a great deal in this regard.”
Khanyile credits her father for arming her with the zeal to be the best educator she can be.
“He was the best teacher I ever had in my life,” she says. “He would say, ‘This is your God-given duty. Every time you wake up in the morning, think of the learners’.”
ERRATA: At the time of Francois Naude being nominated for the National Teaching Awards, and ultimately winning the Excellence in Secondary School Teaching category, he was employed at Hoërskool Florida, Gauteng. He has since moved to Maragon Private School.
Also, in our National Teaching Awards supplement last month, we attributed accolades to Maskew Miller for sponsoring the Lifetime Achievement Award category, when in fact it was sponsored by McMillan South Africa.
NEXT MONTH: We follow Leigh Dunn to Europe on his special tour. Dunn was the winner in the National Teaching Awards 2011 category of Excellence in Special Needs and Inclusive Education. We also check in with Bonakele Nyandeni, who was placed third in the National Teaching Awards for Excellence in Secondary Teaching, on a farm in Mpumalanga