Once a teacher, always a teacher. This rings true for retired teacher Nicholette Frank who spent four decades at Steenberg Primary School and still continues to help out when called on.
Last month teachers from all over the province were honoured at the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa’s (NAPTOSA) awards for their dedication and passion through the years.
Ms Frank, who started teaching at Steenberg Primary School in 1980, was overjoyed at the sentiment and proudly accepted her award for outstanding service at a glamorous ceremony at the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands on Saturday October 30.
“I am honoured to have received the award whilst paradoxically I was also humbled by the splendour of the prestigious occasion. Receiving the award has made me feel special and appreciated,” said Ms Frank.
She said her mother and father had both been teachers – George Sampson was the principal at Kranshoek Primary in Plettenberg Bay and her mother, Denise Sampson, his deputy principal. Both her grandfathers had also been teachers and all her paternal aunts and uncles were involved in education, either as principals, lecturers at Hewat Training College or inspectors at the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).
“It is in my DNA” she quipped.
She retired in October last year because she needed spinal surgery due to her osteoarthritis. While she’s still recovering, she can’t quite lay down her teacher’s hat permanently because she still enjoys helping the school when needed.
But when she’s not helping out at the the school, Ms Frank enjoys spending time in her garden, spending time with her elderly mother and grandson and creating art pieces at home.
Her favourite teaching moments include taking her pupils on excursions. “On these excursions education was taken to another level, as height above sea level, karoo, vegetation, urban and rural terms we used in the classroom were no longer mere terms, but experiential. This was the best way to influence the mindset of our learners.”
Asked what teaching had taught her over the past 40 years, she said the most valuable lesson was that the love you exude, you get back from the pupils.
Ms Frank advised the next generation of teachers to prepare themselves psychologically, not just academically. “Currently children are influenced by a plethora of factors which a teacher has to be equipped to deal with – societal factors, single parents, child headed households, violence, drugs, the impact of social media and poverty are realities which impact education,” she said.
While there have been many highlights, Ms Frank said there had been challenges, among them the behaviour of some children in her latter years of teaching.
“The type of behaviour that some children exhibited can only be classified as disrespect with inappropriate language and no interest in the academic programme.
“Younger teachers must have patience and the love to impact and nurture children in a gentle yet stimulating and supportive academic environment.”
She thanked everyone who played a role in her career as well as her past pupils who fostered an even bigger love for the profession.