Described as a father figure to the pupils at Beacon View Primary School, a helper and great teacher who has left behind a legacy for the next generation to draw from, Winston Arries, 50, from Portland retired from teaching after 13 years at Beacon View.
Having studied teaching at South Cape College of Education in Oudtshoorn, “an influential college at the time” Mr Arries qualified as a teacher in 1990, starting his career at Bridgton High School in Oudtshoorn – where he is from – when he was just 23 years old. There were, however, many teachers who could not obtain permanent posts in the new education system. “If you didn’t get a permanent post you had to be happy with a one- to three-month post at a school,” he said.
It, however, wasn’t Mr Arries’ plan to be a teacher. He had always wanted to be a mechanical engineer but that did not work out for him.
When he started teaching, he was faced with the introduction of Outcomes-Based Education, and saw pupils struggling with this.
“They needed to understand this system and they needed to know how to be taught this way. Creativity was fuelled by life skills, performing arts, visual arts and other forms of creative arts. I am glad that I could make such a contribution to education. I later realised the weight and value I carried by the joy I brought to children and young people alike,” said Mr Arries.
“Beacon View has really refined my teaching skills. I like adding that little twist in what the education department requires from us,” he added.
On the day of his farewell, pupils wrote letters to him, in which they referred to him as father or dad.
His time at Beacon View, he said, was all about the children. He knew the issues the people of Beacon Valley faced, especially the children at Beacon View. “I remember how some of the learners did not want to leave primary school to go to high school because of me – many crying at the end of the year, but they needed to leave the nest. I could see their growth and how they’d become independent,” said Mr Arries.
Deputy principal Quinton Gordon said the first time he worked with Mr Arries, he had been the area manager of an indigenous games and sports project and later joined the staff as a permanent teacher.
“As a teacher he always showed respect, diligence and a meticulous attitude towards all tasks given to him. I’ve learnt so much from him. Everybody at school enjoyed his humble pastoral nature.
“Children in his care will always come out tops, if not academic, it will be their self-esteem and attitude towards life. He is a maths fundi and enhances teaching holistically,” said Mr Gordon.
He was the regular MC, DJ and photographer at the school’s special events and the school pupils and staff enjoyed this.
His wife, Helga Arries said: “I’m so proud of my husband and thank God for all the gifts he is blessed with. I stand 100% behind him and for what he still has to offer for God’s Kingdom.”
Mr Arries said the turning point in his career came when he started Chosen Youth in 2017. “What I am doing at school was a synergy but the classroom was becoming too small for me and the vision I have for young people,” he said. His wife, Helga and his two daughters Emma-Jane and Jade are part of the Chosen Youth organisation.
“We need to give back to the community and do it with a twist. Our programmes consist of the creative arts and leadership development to name a few.”
Mr Arries has written his own poems about his life story and challenges he faced after an operation in 2016, which affected his spine. It still affects him today, but that does not stop him from pursuing his passion, which is working with young people.