Two Eden teachers honoured by the WCED

Tonight the Western Cape Education Department announced the names of the top teachers in the province at a gala function in Newlands. 

The department honoured 33 regional and provincial winners and presented awards in eight categories. 

The eight categories are: 

  • ·Excellence in Primary School Teaching
  • ·Excellence in Secondary School Teaching
  • ·Excellence in Grade R Teaching
  • ·Excellence in Special Needs Teaching
  • ·Excellence in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) – Enhanced    Teaching
  • ·Excellence Primary School Leadership
  • ·Excellence in Secondary School Leadership
  • ·Lifetime Achievement Award 

The awards follow a rigorous selection process in all eight education districts of the province. 

Retired teachers, retired principals and retired WCED  officials (office based educators) represented the WCED on the cluster and provincial adjudication panels. 

About 32 000 teachers in the Western Cape were eligible for nomination. The names of the provincial winners will now go forward to the national competition which will be held at a later date. 

The awards recognize excellence in teaching and education leadership and provide an opportunity to showcase and celebrate excellence throughout the education system.

Excellence in Secondary School Leadership  

Mr Derick Petersen 

School:        ImizamoYethu Secondary School 

Cluster:        Eden & Central Karoo  

District:         Eden & Central Karoo Education District 


Derick Petersen

Mr Petersen’s teaching career spans 28 years. In January 2011, he was appointed as caretaker principal at Imizamo Yethu Secondary School, which was seen as a dysfunctional school. He accepted the challenge and turned the school around. 

His strategy in turning the school around involved emphasizing class discipline and leading by example. He started by visiting classes to obtain first-hand knowledge of what was happening there. He encouraged teachers to use technology when compiling mark lists and reports. 

He obtained the support of the school management team, and together they introduced numerous innovations at the school. The names and photographs of pupil achievers are displayed in the corridor of the administrative block, and, in his office, Mr Petersen has put up a photograph of each of the matric pupils, each one of whom he knows by name. 

As a leader, the nominee believes in creating an environment conducive to effective education.  His turnaround strategy also involved the paving of the school quad and revamping the Consumer Studies centre. Mr Petersen is of the opinion that the external appearance of the school is important and promotes a sense of worth.  

Under the leadership of the nominee, the school’s matric pass rate rose from a previous 27% to 82% in 2011. 

The nominee believes that a good leader creates sound and reliable systems. The nominee passionately manages teaching at the school through monitoring, evaluation, measuring and analysis. He has fostered partnerships with academic institutions beyond the school. One higher  education institution has guaranteed learners access to that institution for tertiary study. 

The nominee‘s leadership style entails being a positive influence and inspiration, and having the ability to get colleagues to identify with his vision, using persuasion rather than instruction. He has also cultivated a culture of going the extra mile. 

Although he describes himself as a lion that goes for the kill, his genial manner is most endearing. 

In a short time, the nominee has turned a case of neglect into a thriving hub of educational activity for learners and the school community. 

Excellence in Special Needs Teaching 

Ms Isabel Beckett 

School:        BertieBarnardPrimary School, Stilbaai 

Cluster:        Eden and Central Karoo 

District:         Eden & Central Karoo Education District 


Isabel Beckett

Ms Beckett teaches a class of 14 disabled learners, some severely disabled, in a mainstream school. Her aims are to teach these children basic life skills, to enable them to care for themselves when no adults are available, and to take their place in society as valued citizens. 

Conscious of the fact that “ … it is easy to teach the smart, powerful and beautiful; (but)that it is quite another thing to teach those outside the circle.”,  Ms Beckett’s approach is one of giving attention to each learner’s emotional, physical and intellectual needs each day, and to developing their abilities as fully as possible. 

As many of these learners receive little supervision and involvement from their migrant-worker parents, Ms Becket has taken it upon herself to provide for them at her own expense. She takes her learners to a clinic for hearing and sight testing and then obtains hearing aids and spectacles for them. Should the parents not be able to pay for such items, she find some way of covering the cost. 

Ms Beckett arranges medication to improve the concentration of certain of the learners. She has started visiting her pupils’ homes and, as a result, has won some parents over to becoming more involved in the care, needs, and education of their children. 

She has introduced approaches, such as the following, to teach the learners basic life skills: 

  • Visiting the supermarket to teach them how to shop and work with money
  • Visiting a restaurant where they learn social etiquette
  • Visiting a library, where they learn to choose, borrow and return books
  • Shadowing work at an appropriately chosen and accommodating business 

Ms Becket has introduced the teaching of basic cooking into her classroom. This serves two purposes: to teach her learners to survive and to provide them with a skill that may enable them to find employment. She has also developed a vegetable garden where the learners have learnt to grow food. She has taught her learners to use the computer as far as their ability allows. 

She has also taught her learners to give back to the community through her “Make and Bake” project, whereby they donate their products to people in need. 

She finds that she also needs to teach the learners responsibility for their own hygiene – they are taught to  brush their teeth, dress themselves and keep their classroom clean and neat. 

Ms Beckett uses persona dolls to deal with social ills such as drug abuse, HIV/AIDS and sexual abuse. She teaches the learners that respect for the opposite sex and people ingeneralare of utmost importance. She adapts the curriculum for each learner individually, such as using a pegs system to teach vocabulary, speech and reading to a Down Syndrome child. Ms Beckett often uses play therapy to deal with a variety of issues with her learners. 

To assess her learners, Ms Beckett works very closely with a social worker, a psychologist, an occupational therapist and a physiotherapist, thereby obtaining the best all-round assessment. 

She works with a social worker, a psychologist and the SAPS to assist traumatised learners. 

She also assists the Grades 1 to 3 teachers to deal with shortcomings in learners’ abilities. 

Ms Beckett has developed a network of retired people in community who assist with certain programmes and activities – such as the Caring Group, which brings a gift and cake to school on a learner’s birthday. 

To meet the cost of learners’ transport to and from school, Ms Beckett’s class is busy making calendars which they will sell. 

Ms Beckett’s belief in lifelong learning is evident in that she herself continues to study to better equip herself to manage and teach her class.

Speech by Minister Grant – “Our Teachers – Our Inspiration” 

Address by Minister for Education in the Western Cape, Donald Grant   

National Teaching Awards – Provincial Awards 

Kelvin Grove, Newlands 

Head of the Western Cape Education Department Penny Vinjevold

Senior management of the WCED, District Directors and officials

Awards Recipients

Members of the Teaching Profession and the WCED

Ladies and Gentlemen

I am delighted to be here tonight celebrating excellence in teaching and honouring some of the outstanding teachers who inspire and motivate our children every day. 

Each of the 33 people that we are honouring here tonight has demonstrated commitment and dedication to the teaching profession. 

For your contribution towards excellence in our schools I would like publically to thank you.  

We recognize your outstanding loyalty and devotion to your learners and we are so very proud of your achievements. 

I have to admit I have been blown away by the competition this year. While reading some of your motivations I realized just how much your profession is misunderstood and sometimes even misrepresented. 

Being a teacher these days requires much more then delivering a quality curriculum for our learners.  In many cases, it requires more than it should. However, from what I have read you all go about it with both ease and optimism. 

You go selflessly beyond the call of duty to ensure that your learners receive the best quality tuition and a fair chance to live the lives that they deserve. 

Each of you is faced with a range of challenges every day – we have sadly become used to hearing about – gangsterism, drug abuse, an abused child, a community with little hope or ambition or a child that has special needs.  But we forget that gifted children, unrealistic parents, technological distractions and the central importance our society attaches to schooling are also challenges to the professional teacher. 

Creatively, lovingly, and caringly you have opened the door for further opportunities for our learners. 

You inspire me. You inspire us all. 

I have come to realize that many of you are more to these learners than a teacher. You are carers, parents, friends and mentors. 

For example, one educator here tonight has taken it upon herself to provide and care for her special needs learners at her own expense by taking them to the clinic for hearing and sight testing; covering the cost of hearing aids and spectacles should their parents not be able to pay for them. 

Another educator present here has ensured that each of his learners has an email address, an ID and bank account, giving them advice and tools that will empower them individually no matter what their circumstance. 

These are just two examples. There are many more like them, both here tonight and across the province. 

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my appreciation to all our educators that work in areas where there is high gang activity.  Recently, we have seen an increase in gang violence in some areas and I visited one of these schools this morning in order to assess the challenges they face.  

Some of the educators dread driving into work every morning. Yet they make that journey every day, not only having to face their own fears, but to also be confronted with frightened and traumatised young learners affected by violent events. 

I would like to also honour these educators tonight and others in similar circumstances, who work in these very difficult and extreme situations. We admire and value their courageous efforts in trying to create and secure a stable teaching and learning environment for our learners when there is violence and fear within the community and in their schools. 

These educators are also an inspiration to us. 

I feel blessed to be a Minister for education in a province where we have such committed and dedicated educators. 

While our educators are extremely valuable to us, and it is fit and proper that we honour them tonight, they bring even greater value to our learners. 

The other day, I picked up my copy of the “Thank you teacher” booklet we delivered to educators on World Teachers Day in 2010. 

The book contains messages from learners from across the province to their teachers. 

It was a stark reminder of the various roles’ our educators play and the value they bring to these young learners’ lives. 

I would like to share with you some examples.   

Lwandiso Nogwelela wrote: 

“My teacher, my teacher, what can I say about you?

What words can I use for my teacher?

She is a friend to me

She is a parent to me

She is everything to me. Thank-you my teacher.” 

Keagan Fredericks wrote to his teacher:

“I would like to give you this poem – “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

He then went on to say to his teacher “You are the one who taught me how to take that single step.” 

And finally, 

Rukshana Parker wrote a salute to dedicated teachers: 

“Warriors without swords and shields

But with a pen mightier than the sword

And a paper more enduring than a shield.” 

There is no doubt that here in this room tonight we have 33 warriors. 

Congratulations. I salute you all. 

You are our inspiration. 

Thank you.

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