BY SHANAAZ JATTIEM
As published in the Rhodes University Magazine, 2020.
Being a teacher is one of the most fulfilling occupations you can find. If you have a passion for children, teaching will not be seen as a job, but rather as a hobby. When I think of a teacher who made an impressionable impact on my life, I think of someone who drove me to excel, someone who was approachable and believed in me. Her name is Ms Eleanor Taai, my Grade 11 and 12 Afrikaans teacher. When my family relocated back to the Eastern Cape from the Free State, I expected an adjustment in schooling but I never anticipated I would shine academically and enjoy school as much as I did. Port Alfred School, a well resourced ex Model C School, has amazing teachers who push and inspire their learners. I enjoyed school because of the attitudes of the teachers and children, the respect between the learners and educators made me realise just how special this school is.
My first week at the school, I thought Ms Taai was horrible. She gave me my first detention on my second day of school because I did not read the story she asked us to read. Keeping in mind the fact that she gave me my first detention, I was determined to prove to her that I was a hard worker and that I was committed to pass her subject. In my first Afrikaans test I passed very well and as the year progressed she did not accept anything lower than 80% from me. She pushed me to reach a mark I thought I would never be able to achieve and that year I got a Distinction in Afrikaans.
She is one of the best teachers because she never believed in giving up on her learners; she always encouraged them to do better. She was approachable, the one teacher we could go to with any problem and you could trust her enough to give you advice or just listen. When we reached Matric she was the teacher who gave us information about universities and how we should apply. She encouraged further education and even went to lengths of helping us fill in application forms.
She made an impact in my life in the sense that she showed me how a teacher cares for and shows interest in the learners’ lives. If I was absent I would get asked why I was not at school and if I was sick she would ask how I was doing. She showed general concern for all her learners and although she was strict, it only made us work harder and appreciate her more. I missed my distinction by 1% in my final Matric results, however, she made sure I asked for a remark so that I could receive the distinction I worked so had to receive.
I would love to be a teacher like Ms Taai one day.
Thank you Ms Taai for everything you’ve done and still do for your learners.
Thank you for the tough love for always pushing us to do better, Juffrou is een in n duisent.