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Teachers bid farewell after many years of dedication
Edith Fortuin recently retired after teaching for 40 years. Photos: Razaan Plaatjies
Hankey Primary School teacher Maurice Walsh who recently retired after teaching for 39 years.

As they say goodbye to their colleagues and pupils at Hankey Primary School, teachers Maurice Walsh and Edith Fortuin are filled with excitement for their new chapter after fulfilling their duties as educators.

Walsh began his career as an educator in January 1981, at Patensie Primary School where he learnt what being a teacher was all about.

“Other teachers laughed at how I did things as a new educator who did not have much experience, but eventually they showed me how it should be done. This is when I learnt the necessary skills that I needed to be an educator,” said Walsh.

From 1982 to 1992, he taught at Hankey Primary School and in 1993, when Hankey Secondary School opened, the Department of Education transferred Walsh to the secondary school.

In 2009, he was transferred back to Hankey Primary School where he taught mathematics and natural sciences to grade 7 pupils and was head of the science department until his retirement earlier this year.

Walsh, who was meant to retire on April 31, began his retirement earlier than expected on March 18, due to the nationwide lockdown.

He said on his last day at the school he had mixed feelings.

“I felt excited about retiring, but also wondered about what I was going to do at home with all my free time. I also felt as if I was disappointing my pupils by leaving,” said Walsh.

Apart from missing his colleagues who have become family to him, Walsh said he will miss his pupils and coaching the u/9 rugby team.

“Each year it was very entertaining to see at least 100 enthusiastic little boys making their way to the rugby field, hoping they would be selected for the school’s rugby team. It was always very difficult to decide who would join the team because from the 100 little boys, only one rugby team could be formed,” he said.

Walsh, who was recently hospitalised after hurting his back, said he plans to relax at home, but will continue doing the things he enjoys such as gardening, fishing and camping once he has fully recovered.

He also plans to continue his church duties as the treasurer at the Hankey Congregational Church.

Fortuin began teaching more than 40 years ago

Teacher Fortuin began her career as an educator in 1979, at Kleinfontein Primary School.

In 1980, she began teaching grade two pupils at Hankey Primary School until her retirement in March this year.

Fortuin said she enjoyed each day as a teacher and believed it was her calling.

Growing up in a big family she always loved children and with four of her sisters and her brother all following a career in education, Fortuin’s calling to become a teacher was reaffirmed.

“With a big family and many children around, I was inspired to become a teacher,” said Fortuin.

When Fortuin began teaching more than 40 years ago, the bond and the great communication she had with her learners further increased her love for children whom she will dearly miss now that she has left the school.

“As an educator, the pupils were the most important part of my job and it was always great that we could communicate so well with one another,” said Fortuin.

“No matter how despondent I was at times, smiles and hugs from my pupils always uplifted my spirit.”

Her advice to young teachers would be to keep going and trust God to give them strength.

“I started teaching at this school in 1980, and God has been with me throughout my time as a teacher. Today I can say that I am full of courage and I am strong. I would therefore encourage all new teachers to trust God as well,” said Fortuin.

Now that Fortuin has retired, she has found a new career path which includes baking and selling a variety of cakes.

“I have always loved baking. I’ve moved on from being a teacher and now I am a baker,” she said.

“I’m leaving this school with happiness in my heart, because I enjoyed my time as a teacher, and I did my part.”

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