Star teacher of the week

03 November 2020 | Education

Brigitte Lotte Louw

1. Why did you decide to become a teacher? And what did you want to be when you grow up?

When I was still very young, the career opportunities were somewhat limited for girls. I was seriously considering a career in nursing, but my father, who was also a teacher, nudged me toward the teacher's college. I have no regrets, and I am grateful for my father for the guidance. My mother was a homemaker, and she was the one that taught me crocheting, knitting and sewing, which I enjoy doing in my spare time. She always encouraged me to be the best that I can be, to always give 100%, no matter the task at hand.

2. What motivates you every morning to get up and go to work? And how long have you been in the education sector?

I have a passion for working with children, especially the young ones, pre-primary and grade 1. They arrive at school for their first day; some happy, some crying and most unsure about what to expect. Then the challenge is yours, to make them feel welcome and relaxed. My dream has always been to be a successful educator, and that my learners will always remember me as the one that taught them to read, write and be disciplined. I want to instil a passion for continuous learning and the pursuit of success in my learners. I have been a teacher for 40 years and the last ten years as the principal of J.T.L Beukes Primary School.

3. Tell us about your challenges and how you overcome them?

As a devout Catholic, I believe that you gain strength through faith in our Lord. He does not allow challenges to your path unless He gives you the tools to overcome them. As a teacher, parents entrust their most precious possession to you, and sometimes the expectations placed on you can be overwhelming. When interacting with parents that are concerned and sometimes confrontational, it is important to stay calm. As parents and teachers, our goals are aligned, but our views might be from different perspectives. As an organisation, the teaching staff can also offer some challenges to the management of any school. I have always tried to use a mixed leadership style, being democratic when it is possible, but sometimes an authoritarian approach is most suitable. Financial resources have always been limited in public schools, but I have found that by keeping tight cost controls, and planning can help you achieve the seemingly impossible. Parent participation with fundraising is also very important for the school to complete projects such as the development of sports fields, feeding scheme operations and building additional classrooms. Bullying is a major problem in schools, and I have seen that the children that become bullies are not born this way. Many factors enable this negative behaviour, and early intervention by teachers and parent involvement can stop this. With the current challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, schools have been severely affected and the emotional and mental impact on learners have been significant. Return to structure and routine will be one of the key factors that will help the learners, and teachers, adjust to the new normal.

4. What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned from your learners?

Be humble, be thankful and always share. I have seen how children who have the least are willing to share what they have with those that need it. By sharing, you free up your hands to receive more…

5. What are your talents? What are you passionate about?

I believe that teaching is not only a profession but also a calling. When you teach, you add value to society, and you feed your soul. I will always be passionate about teaching, and although I might no longer be able to provide the service to the larger community, I will be providing this service to my four grandchildren. Whatever I take on, I give 100%. And before I do, I plan, I organise, I prepare. I do not go into a task or project without an action plan, and I never start without knowing what resources are required and where I will get it.

6. What is your favourite book, song, favourite place to visit in Namibia, dream car?

John Maxwell has always been one of my favourite motivational writers. I like music from my youth, with artists such as Dolly Parton and Jim Reeves being my favourite. I enjoy the wide-open spaces and calm on the farm, and a couple of days in Swakopmund do wonders to rejuvenate body and mind.

7. Tell us about your journey.

I started my career in 1981 at the ‘Laer Staatsskool’ (now Origo Primary School) in Rehoboth. I was young, with a head filled with dreams and aspirations about making the world a better place. In February 1982, I was fortunate to be asked by the late Mr K H Denk to join the JTL Beukes team. I accepted, and have never, not for a moment, regretted my decision. My love for the white and sky blue grew stronger and stronger with each passing year. I started as a grade 1 (sub-A) and this was the bulk of my teaching career, but have also taught in Grade 3 and pre-primary. Before I was appointed as the principal, I was the head of the department for the lower primary phase of the school. In 2010 I was privileged to start the first pre-primary class in J.T.L Beukes Primary School and in 2011 I was promoted to principal. This was a dream come true. With the staff of J.T.L Beukes Primary School and the support of parents, we have been able to complete many projects for the betterment of the school. Installation of shade nets, painting the school, converting storerooms to classrooms, construction of a kitchen for the school feeding scheme, constructing five classrooms for the pre-primary classes, refurbishing the netball court and planting grass on the sports field with a lawnmower. Although I have now retired, my loyalty and support for J.T.L. Beukes Primary School will not waver. To me, you will always be number one. To the staff, secretaries and cleaners of J.T.L Beukes Primary School, I hope that you continue to show the commitment and work ethic that I know you are capable of, and to the school board and parents, I hope you continue to support and uplift the school onto greater heights.

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