Two Parow primary school teachers have scooped top awards, at the 18th annual provincial teaching awards, for making a big difference in the lives of their pupils.
The awards are held annually by the Western Cape Education Department. This year the theme was: “The Year of the Teacher”.
During the awards ceremony at Mutual Park in Pinelands, last Friday, Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said the department had used the theme to encourage parents, pupils and teachers to nominate teachers and principals who were doing a great job.
Dr Tanya Spamer, of Parow West Primary, clinched the teacher award for primary school teaching. Dr Spamer, 48, lives in Wellington and has been teaching on and off for the past 15 years.
“I was very humbled by the award. I got a phone call from Ms Schäfer’s office a week before the awards ceremony to tell me that I had been nominated,” she said.
Dr Spamer grew up in Durbanville and holds a PhD in teaching from the University of the North West.
She was hailed as “a hero and an inspiration, filled with passion, who tirelessly supports her pupils until they cross the finish line”.
She was nominated by a pupil who credited her with getting him to compete in national athletics championships.
Dr Spamer said she was shocked when she was named the winner as she felt there were many worthy candidates nominated for the same award.
“I come from a family of teachers, and I have always wanted to become one,” she said, adding that she believed in nurturing the values pupils needed to be good citizens.
“Teachers cannot do it on their own.
“We need the help of our pupils and the entire school community to enable our pupils academic success,” she said, urging parents to be involved in their children’s education.
“The highlight of my job is when I can look into the eyes of a child whose horizon I have broadened by the knowledge I have bestowed on them. I love the feeling of actually making a difference in a child’s life.”
Elani Bezuidenhout, of the Parow Inclusive School, clinched the primary school teacher of the year award in the special needs education category. She has been teaching for 17 years and has a BEd degree in early childhood development and a Honours degree in special needs from Unisa.
She said she had been working in mainstream schools when she realised she was not paying much attention to the pupils who formed part of her “bottom group”.
She was described as a diligent, committed and hard-working teacher who made her pupils feel special and safe.
“I currently focus on children with learning barriers and what I have found is that you can be much more creative in the way you convey information to them.
“In many instances, some of my pupils won’t be able to become a doctor, lawyer or teacher, but they will be able to work with their hands,” she said.
Ms Bezuidenhout, of Wellington, said she was “quite surprised” when she was announced the winner.
“The highlight of my job is when I see my pupils achieve what they thought they could not. I would like to tell society that they should never, ever underestimate the potential of a child who has special needs.”
Ms Schäfer said: “Every child deserves a teacher who will not give up on them; will see their potential, and will encourage them to be the very best that they can be.”