Fourty-four years after starting his teaching career, Retreat resident Patrick de Waal, 65, is excited to embark on a new chapter of his life in retirement.
Described as a diligent servant of the community who pioneered technology as a subject at Sibelius High School, Mr De Waal officially retired at the end of May following 43 years of education at the school and a year prior at Thomas Wildschutt Senior Primary in 1980.
He was transferred to the school when it was a junior secondary facility in 1981, was Head of Department (HOD) as well as woodwork teacher and built the school from the ground up alongside other colleagues.
Being in teaching for over 40 years, Mr De Waal said he has been witness to significant changes in the educational landscape such as curriculum changes, the implementation of Outcome-based Education and many others and worked alongside nine principals.
A firm believer in lifelong learning, he furthered his studies at the universities of Johannesburg and Stellenbosch and completed the International Computer Driving Licence and with his digital skills, Mr De Waal introduced innovative practices to the school’s administration and taught technology.
With a focus on holistic development, he also practised the school ethos of the school developing through sports and culture and helped in the struggle against Apartheid in the 80’s and 90’s as the school was a central point for political rallies.
Earlier this year, Mr De Waal was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, which requires him to be on dialysis twice a week and he has to have a knee replacement surgery soon so he hasn’t been able to do the many things he has on his retirement bucket list but said as soon as he’s better he’ll be spending his time gardening, travelling and spending more time with his family.
He thanked his colleagues and family for all the support and tolerating his idiosyncrasies throughout the years: “I extend my heartfelt thanks to the Sibelius community for allowing me the privilege of being part of a remarkable institution… it has been an honour and privilege to serve the community and I hope that in some way I have made a positive difference in the lives of learners and all those I had the pleasure of interacting with.”
He also thanked students past and present who gave him purpose and for being the driving force behind his passion for teaching.
Mr De Waal wished the school well for the future and added that although standards have changed in the schooling landscape and at Sibelius, he hopes the school will reach its full potential.
Sibelius High School principal Armien Samodien commended Mr De Waal for his work over the years and wished him well.
“He’s been a dedicated servant of the community. He was a shining example of delivering in terms of the curriculum and always got close to a 100% pass rate in technology. He has truly served our community well and we wish him everything of the best for his years of retirement.”
Wife Mercia de Waal, a teacher as well, said she was proud of her husband’s commitment to his calling as a teacher.
“He fulfilled his passion with great integrity and I salute him for doing what Mandela envisioned and using education, the most powerful weapon, to change the world. Cheers to a happy and healthy retirement.”