While staff at a special needs school in Tafelsig bid farewell to a retiring teacher, she still has plans to maintain ties and continue contributing to the development of its pupils.
Cheryl Jonas-Abrahams, 60, from Lansdowne, taught her last class at Agape School For Cerebral Palsied Children on Friday June 14 but will be back in August to celebrate her birthday.
Last year she and her husband Deanno Abrahams, who share a birthday month, started this tradition, which they would like to continue.
Ms Jonas-Abrahams also has a few other surprises up her sleeve, which may include renovating the school library.
She taught at Agape for 28 years after having spent nine years teaching at mainstream schools.
“It has been a life-long learning experience,” she said.
Over the years she has completed various in-service education and training courses, which have empowered her to teach cerebral palsied and children with learning disabilities.
“No two days are the same and these pupils follow the same curriculum as other children.
“The only difference is they can ask for a scribe, reader or extra time during assessment,” she said.
One of her pupils has already gone to study at a tertiary institution.
When she started teaching at the school in 1991, she had six pupils in her class and in recent years this figure has doubled. Some of the classes have class assistants and a paramedic team, who all contribute to the teaching the more than 200 pupils.
“You want to give them everything, from your body, heart and soul,” she said.
Ms Jonas-Abrahams has also worked in the school’s skills department by teaching the pupils a trade, which allowed her to tap into her creativity.
She also co-ordinated the school’s 30th anniversary thanksgiving ceremony last year.
“I’ve been fortunate to do a lot and impart my knowledge and passion to each and every pupil,” she said.
She said as a teacher the school had offered her and her colleagues the opportunity to perform and produce at their best level.
“You give of your best and this is something I hope the younger teachers will continue,” she said.
“Take from us. Learn from us,” she said.
“I’ve learned patience, to be gracious and thankful.
“These pupils despite coming from sub-economic homes and areas, appreciate what they have,” she said.
She said some pupils came from very poor families and with budget cuts, the school struggled to meet its financial needs.
“I leave the school with trepidation as I am leaving this institution, which has been a great part of my life but also with exhilaration as I can go and fulfil my dreams and aspirations,” she said.
Ms Jonas-Abrahams thanked principal Bernice Lambert, deputy principal Majiet Sait, colleagues, school governing body members for affording her the opportunity to become the best teacher she could ever be.
“To all of my colleagues, psychologist, teachers, administrative staff, paramedical team, school drivers, class assistants and caretakers — we are just ordinary people doing extrordinary things,” she said.
Ms Jonas-Abrahams plans to travel around South Africa, renovate her house, play some golf, swim — and spend more time with her daughter, two stepdaughters and three grandchildren.