Michelle Swart, a Grade R teacher at Hermanus Pre-Primary, received a hero’s welcome on Monday after she won the National Award for Excellence in Grade R Teaching over the weekend.
“The award for Excellence in Grade R Teaching perfectly describes what Michelle does,” said Hermanus Pre-Primary’s principal, Lorna Such. “From the moment she started the process, her motto was she was in it to win it. Now Michelle is reaping the fruits of her perseverance and dedication.”
Swart received the prestigious award during a glamorous event in Pretoria hosted by the National Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, and the Minister in The Presidency, Jackson Mthembu.
The NTA is an annual event held by the Department of Basic Education to recognise and celebrate teachers for their dedication and outstanding work. Nominees go through a rigorous selection process judging them on teaching practice and excellence.
Swart says she was completely overwhelmed when it was announced that she was the national winner in the category Excellence in Grade R Teaching.
“It is really amazing and rewarding to receive recognition and validation for the work you do every day,” she added.
Swart walked away with fantastic prizes including a brand new car, a new cellphone, a modem, cash and an online course. Her interest in teaching, says Swart, was piqued when she worked as an au pair in America.
“My host mom was a teacher, she inspired me to study Early Childhood Development when I returned to South Africa,” she recalls. She also went on to attain her BA (HSS) psychological counselling degree and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) Foundation Phase. She did several courses, including the Happy Handwriting and Early Identification to Learning Barriers, Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) training and the Western Cape Emergent Literacy Project.
“This is a great achievement, not only for our school but for our whole town, the Overberg and the Western Cape,” said Danie Olivier, chairperson of Hermanus Pre-Primary’s governing body.
Wendy Colyn, Circuit Team manager of the Overberg Education District, congratulated Swart on her achievement and added: “The children at this school are fortunate to have this calibre of teacher.”
Edward Kies, the district coordinator of the National Teaching Awards, pointed out that Swart is the latest in a long line of teachers from the Overberg who have excelled in the National Teaching Awards since its inception in 2000.
“Every year our district has a winner. Susanna Pietersen of Hawston Primary was the provincial winner in the Excellence in Grade R Teaching a few years ago and Lorna Such also made it to the national level of the competition,” he added.
Kies urged all teachers to enter the annual competition, adding that it is the most prestigious incentive offered by the Education Department.
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