“Celebrating Heroes” – Two local teachers honoured by WCED

On Friday evening the Western Cape Education Department announced the names of the top teachers in the province at an event at the CCIC.

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

The awards follow a rigorous selection process in all eight education districts of the province and regional finals involving clusters of districts.

Approximately 33 000 teachers in the Western Cape were eligible for nomination. The names of the provincial winners will go forward to the national competition.

The awards recognized excellence in the following ten categories:

  • Excellence in Primary School Teaching
  • Excellence in Secondary School Teaching
  • Excellence in Grade R Teaching
  • Excellence in Special Needs Teaching
  • Excellence in teaching Natural Sciences (GET)
  • Excellence in teaching Mathematics (GET)
  • Excellence in Technology–Enhanced, Teaching and Learning Award 
  • Excellence in Primary School Leadership
  • Excellence in Secondary School Leadership
  • Lifetime Achievement Award (Minimum of 30 years without a break of service in a public school/centre in South Africa)

The 2019 Leadership Excellence Award in After School Programming was also announced.

Speech by Debbie Schäfer, Western Cape Education Minister
Western Cape Teacher of the Year Awards
Friday, 12 November 2019l

Premier Alan Winde and Tracy Winde – wonderful to have you with us for the first time as Premier
Members of the Provincial Cabinet
Chair and Members of the Standing Committee
Our Acting DG, Harry Malila
Special guests representing every sector of the education community
Brian Schreuder, Head of Education in the province
WCED Top Management, Senior Management and officials
Gerrit Coetzee, Acting Chief Director, Educator Development, at the DBE
Capitec, our sponsors tonight
Representing my family, husband Mark and daughter Caitlin
And of course, our provincial finalists, and your supporters

Thank you so much for gathering here tonight in your numbers to celebrate our teachers, who do so much to ensure quality education for every child, in every classroom, in every school in this province.

While celebrating our teachers, we are also celebrating excellence in teaching.

We received no less than 247 nominations for teaching awards this year.  Our districts, through cluster adjudication, nominated 47 cluster winners for adjudication for the provincial awards.  And we will announce the Top 10 provincial winners tonight.

While celebrating all of the teachers considered for these awards, we know that you represent the tip of the iceberg. We know that the vast majority of around 33 000 teachers out there are giving their best to serve the interests of every child in every classroom.

This celebration tonight gives us the opportunity to applaud and acknowledge all of our teachers.

We are also using this opportunity to celebrate excellence in our province’s after schools programme, which has set the standard for the mass provision of such programmes in the country.

This is a great time to be celebrating winners, as we bask in the afterglow of South Africa’s success in the Rugby World Cup last weekend.

It’s inevitable that we reflect on this success at this time as we look at other success stories, that point to our potential as a Winning Nation.

Siya Kolisi and the Springbok team are now touring the country to show off the trophy they so richly deserve. The tour will end in Cape Town on Monday, which will include a team photograph on the steps of Parliament, near the statue of Nelson Mandela.

South Africa is welcoming the Boks home as conquering heroes. While we savour the moment, it is also worth reflecting on what exactly makes a hero and why are they so inspiring.

Psychologists have applied their minds to this intriguing question and have come up with various explanations.

Heroism takes various forms, for example, someone who rushes into a fire or jumps into the sea to rescue a drowning person.

Others, for example, spend a lifetime serving others, applying their knowledge and skills with endless care, to comfort the sick and the dying, and yes, to nurture and educate children. They are our life-long heroes.

The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has identified a long list of traits of a hero, including moral integrity, courage, self-sacrifice, determination, inspiration and honesty.

A web site called Very Well Mind has summarised some of the characteristics that researchers have ascribed to heroes.

  1. Firstly, heroes are concerned with the well-being of others. Empathy and compassion for others contribute significantly to heroic behaviour.
  2. Secondly, heroes see things from the perspective of others. They easily understand the concerns of others and are willing to walk the extra mile.
  3. Thirdly, heroes have useful skills and strengths. It’s no good trying to rescue someone or win the World Cup is you don’t have the right skills and abilities. You may cause more heartache if you don’t know what you are doing.
  4. Fourthly, heroes have a strong moral compass. Heroes live by their values and are willing to expose themselves to considerable risk in doing so.
  5. Fifthly, heroes are confident and competent. Heroes have the skill and self-confidence to rush in where others fear to tread. Think of Faf de Klerk or Herschel Jantjies bringing down massive centres twice their size.
  6. And lastly, heroes face fear. Heroes are positive thinkers. While normally aware of the dangers, they know how to overcome fear and get on with the job.

It is for all these reasons that we find heroes so inspirational. They bring people together. We come together to celebrate what they mean to us and the values they represent.

I’m sure you will agree that all of these characteristics apply to Siya Kolisi and his team. They have won against all odds and have done so representing all 57 million people of this country.

Of course, these characteristics all apply to the teachers sitting here tonight – and to thousands of your colleagues in schools across the province: strong values, determination, selflessness, competence and courage.

We thank you for this and for everything you are doing for the youth of this country, for everything you are doing to realise our potential as a Winning Nation.

Premier Winde introduction

It is now my great pleasure to introduce our keynote speaker, Premier Alan Winde.

Thank you Premier, for joining us tonight. We are deeply honoured by your presence, which reflects your commitment to education, and your deep regard for our teachers, who we celebrate this evening.

Premier Winde has a background in business, and entered politics as a councillor in the southern Cape in 1996.

He became a Member of the Provincial Legislature in 1999, and joined the Cabinet when the Democratic Alliance came to power in the Western Cape in 2009.

He has served with distinction in various capacities over the years, including as provincial Minister of Finance, Minister of Economic Opportunities, and as Minister of Community Safety.

He therefore has deep insights into what makes this province tick, how to realise the potential of the Western Cape – and the country, for that matter, as a Winning Nation.

He is also a people person.  He was therefore a natural choice for Premier earlier this year.

His commitments include getting the basics right, for example, in education and health, improving household and economic prosperity, improving safety and public transport, and improving government services, through innovation and new technology.

And yes, Premier Winde enjoys family life and life outside politics (although not as much now as I think he would like), including cycling and a good cup of coffee. He has an inside track on education, having served until very recently on the governing body of his daughter’s school.

So, as the leader of our province and as a father, he has every interest in celebrating our teachers tonight.

Ladies and gentlemen, please give Premier Alan Winde a very warm welcome.

Excellence in Special Needs Teaching

Ms Hazel Human: Olympia School of Skills, Dellville, Pacaltsdorp, George

Lifetime Achievement Award    

Ms Edna Loxton: Hillcrest Secondary School, Mossel Bay 

Excellence in Special Needs Teaching

Ms Hazel Human

Nominee: Ms Hazel Human

School: Olympia School of Skills


Ms Human is a young, dedicated and passionate teacher who started her teaching career in 2011 at Haarlem Secondary School as a learning support teacher. Her responsibilities were to support teachers with the identification, screening and placement of learners within a normal school setting. She wrote individual education plans for learners with behavioural challenges to assist fellow teachers to teach more effectively. With her newly found passion for the special needs child and armed with new knowledge and mainstream experience of special needs, Ms Human was appointed at the Olympia School of Skills in 2018 where she became a teacher. At this school she was hopeful about all her dreams, could dare to be different and could live her passion for and dedication towards special needs learners hailing from disadvantaged areas.

Ms Human believes that teaching should come from the heart, especially where learners with special needs are concerned. She acknowledges and respects each and every learner as an individual, despite age, race, gender, ethnicity or language and is a passionate teacher who has made a commitment to not exclude anybody from the opportunity of getting quality education. Ms Human is achieving great success in using alternative and adapted teaching methods in class, working with learners on an individual basis. She uses eLearning methodologies in class with great success. Her holistic approach towards the individual learner is dear to her heart and she invests her time and energy in coaching sport as part of her extramural program at school.

As an enthusiastic and driven special needs teacher, Ms Human has studied further to strengthen her knowledge of the special needs learner. Apart from having a teaching qualification, BEd (Intermediate Phase), she also completed an honours degree in learner support and is currently studying for a BA in psychological counselling. She regularly attends workshops in various applicable specialised fields of education, such as HIV and AIDS, teenage pregnancy and grief and loss programs.

With her positive attitude towards the teaching profession, she endeavours to motivate and support her learners. Her initiatives has resulted in turning challenged learners with severe barriers to performing and adapting into positive individuals with new hope for the future. She believes that the attitudes and actions of a dedicated special needs teacher can determine the future of a special needs learner in a very positive way and is therefore nominated as a worthy recipient of this award.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Ms Edna Loxton

Nominee: Ms Edna Loxton

School: Hillcrest Secondary School


Ms Edna Loxton started her teaching career in 1984 and is in her 36th year of teaching. She has dedicated her life to improving the lives of the marginalised and disadvantaged learners of her community.

As a teacher, one of her primary aims from the start of her career was to build the self-esteem of learners and to take them beyond their socio-economic environment which is having such devastating effects on the children of our country. Part of this drive includes regular home visits to learners and parents to emphasise, encourage and counsel.

Through participation in various organisations, Ms Loxton has actively and successfully dealt with the impact of social challenges on the learners of the school and especially the broader community where the school is located.

Her activism and relentless drive to tackle the social challenges of teenage pregnancies, discrimination, diversity and inclusivity have resulted in a change in attitude by the community of Hillcrest, with the school as its core of action. She was responsible for drawing up the teenage pregnancy policy of the school.

She has been on the governing body of her school for more than 25 years. This has provided her with extensive knowledge and experience of school governance and led to her becoming an expert in the field. Consequently, she became a trainer and coach to schools in the Mossel Bay area. The district office has also made use of her expertise to provide training in this regard.

With diligence and passion, Ms Loxton has consistently continued with the teaching of the values and norms of good citizenship and worked hard to ensure that it is instilled in learners to make them aware of their role in society and to encourage them to become active and well-balanced citizens. Learners have been taught to expect only the best of themselves despite the many negative socio-economic challenges that they face daily.

Ms Loxton has also been the coordinator for sports, cultural awards, spelling bees and job shadowing at her school, as well as trauma counsellor and peace builder, values in education champion and cultural activist.

While she has been a very successful Mathematics and Physical Sciences teacher, she also has a love of languages and encourages her learners not to view English as a foreign language, but as a powerful tool for self-reliance, asserting themselves and building self-esteem.

Ms Loxton is an innovative lifelong learner and has applied a variety of teaching and assessment strategies learned over the years to meet the individual needs of every learner in her class and the school as an educational institution. The results in her teaching subjects speak volumes for her dedication to quality teaching and learning. She was also responsible for introducing Xhosa as Home Language at the school, thereby ensuring further cultural diversity and inclusivity.

She is leaving a large footprint at her school. She is well loved and respected, and learners from all walks of life pay tribute to the impact she made on their lives: educationists, doctors, engineers and the ordinary man in the street.

This educator has made a lasting impact on her colleagues, the learners and the community by being a role model and a mentor. She is someone who gives life to the words of Paulo Frere: “Education does not change the world. Education changes people. People change the world.”

Ms Loxton is a principled leader who is worthy of being nominated to receive this coveted Lifetime Achievement Award.

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