Former Alpine Primary School teacher and head of department for the foundation phase, Zelma Johnson, 59, from Strandfontein, served the school’s community for 37 years.
Walking down the aisle as teachers of Alpine Primary School surprised her by demonstrating the guard of honour last month, left the retired teacher emotional.
She started her teaching career at Floreat Primary School, in Steenberg, where she taught for a few months. In 1987, she taught at Imperial Primary School for six months. They were hosted at Imperial while waiting for Alpine Primary School and Beacon View Primary School to open.
“One morning we were suddenly told to get our things to move to Alpine Primary School in 1987. I had to carry all my teaching materials, walking the streets with my pupils, not even knowing where the new school was situated,” she said.
Alpine Primary School in the 80s was fresh, new and clean. It wasn’t always smooth sailing as at times she would have to teach 52 pupils in her class.
She applied for the head of department for the foundation phase in 1995. It was still a challenge for the teacher, pupil ratio. She has worked with five principals in her teaching career at Alpine. “I could see how the children were evolving in my time as a teacher,” she said.
On Friday September 29, a celebration ceremony was held for the retired teacher at Alpine with staff, non-teaching staff, friends and family.
Former foundation phase teacher at Alpine Primary School, Charmaine Erispe said Ms Johnson was more than a colleague but also a friend.
Ms Erispe started at Alpine in 1989, coming from Sullivan Primary School, in Steenberg. Ms Johnson was one of the first teachers and others followed.
“We walked the road together at Alpine. She was always my go to person and vice versa. She became the HOD at school. She was a great person to work with. The parents loved her. She was someone you could talk to and was a great figure and guide at school. I wish her the best on her retirement as she gave her everything in education,” she said.
Alpine Primary teachers Toivo Arendse, Lindy Andreas and Sophia Davids said they wish Ms Johnson all the best with her retirement.
Ms Johnson was one of their mentors who moulded and shaped them into the teachers they are today.
Alpine Primary teacher Michelle De Wet said Ms Johnson did a sterling job and was a professional. She was well loved by staff as well as the school. “We will miss the star of the party, she is an amazing human being and we wish her well.”