For the past 40 years, Strandfontein Primary School has been firmly rooted in the community, ushering many residents of Strandfontein and those far and wide, through its doors.
In 1978, Strandfontein Primary School was the first primary school built after Strandfontein High School. The late Hubert Johnathan was the first principal at Strandfontein Primary, followed by William Buchenroder, Stanford Albanie, Gerrard Mars, Vernon Erfort and Abubaker de Wet.
Carol Felix, 56, the deputy principal at Strandfontein Primary School, who started teaching Grade 2 in 1981, said being a teacher is a calling. “ I love what I do because I am passionate about it. Teaching the foundation phase was my best years as I got to build those kids from the bottom up. To see a child, develop and grow in all areas made me proud.”
In 1991 she became the head of department (HOD) of the foundation phase and after 13 years, became the deputy principal of Strandfontein Primary School.
“Strandfontein grew from strength to strength and the 40 years is just the beginning of great things,” said Ms Felix.
Mr De Wet, 49, the current principal, started teaching at Constantia Primary in 1991. He then went to Harmony Primary School in Steenberg where he taught for 10 years.
Mr DeWet then decided to travel overseas to teach and in 2004 he came back to South Africa to teach at Crestway High School in Retreat where he became the HOD.
He was appointed deputy principal of Lourier Primary School in Cafda Village, Retreat, in 2014.
In 2016 he joined Strandfontein Primary School.
They have had great improvement with their academics and continue to strive for success, said Mr DeWet. “The school is doing well in every respect,” he said.
The school built a new computer laboratory this year and two new Grade R classrooms last year.
Masmoena Mallie, 52, a part of the non-teaching staff, has been working at the school for 10 years. In 2006, she started working with the caretakers, keeping the school clean and tidy. Recently she had an operation on her feet and started working in the administration office and assisting the secretary.
“Sometimes they drive you crazy but I love every bit of it as it comes with my job. Working in the office exposes me to the parents,” said Ms Mallie. “We’re all a big family at the school and we have fun together as a team.”
Ezra Peters, 26, started at the school in 2015 and jumped into the job of co-ordinating the school’s environmental club. He works with the pupils to keep the school clean, save water and make the school environmentally safe. The eco club consists of 120 pupils participating in the programme set out by Mr Peters.
They are active recyclers who have become environmentally smart. “These are the seeds we need to plant in these kids, no matter how small,” said Mr Peters.
Sumaya Manuel, 34, is the departmental head of the Grade 3s at the school. In 2003 she started teaching at the school and became involved in many activities. She is part of the co-ordinating committee for the school’s 40-year celebrations this year.
“At Strandfontein, we are all tightly knit together as a family. I love working at school and serving my kids. To do what I do, one needs to have passion and want to give back in the best way they can.”
The school has invested in a feeding scheme, a soccer programme, an eco club, and speech and drama programmes.
Joey Williams, 12, a prefect at the school said: “The teachers are great, they respect us and they want us to succeed. My sir, Mr Hughs, loves science which makes me love science too. I enjoy how he teaches.”
Alverna Johnston turned 60 this year and will be retiring later this year. She has been teaching for 38 years and with her wealth of experience, has been one of the forerunners in keeping the school together.
“She has taught old and new teachers what it’s like to be a teacher. She has mentored so many of them, making her almost irreplaceable,” said Ms Manuel.
It is with a sad heart that the teachers at Strandfontein say goodbye to a passionate teacher who loves what she does. Ms Johnston is currently recovering at home from an operation.
Samuel Snyders, 49, started working at the school in 1994. He started teaching different grades, until he ended up teaching Grade 7 pupils. “I had wonderful years, especially with pal Mr Albanie. We would go on tours with learners in the 1990s for athletics each year.”
Mr Snyders has been involved with the school’s athletics for many years and the pupils enjoy his involvement in it. “I enjoy teaching. There are challenges that come with it but it’s all part of being a teacher,” said Mr Snyders.
Many of his old pupils still visit him, said Mr Snyders, not only because of the contribution they made as teachers but also the moral stand they took in their lives. They strive for excellence, said Mr Snyders.
“When I retire someday, I would like the school to flourish and go higher than it ever was,” said Mr Snyders.
There will be various events throughout the year that pupils, parents and alumni can attend such as the surf walk on Monday March 26 and a gala dinner, food fair and concert during the year. For more information, call Ms Manuel on 084 837 0220 or Mr DeWet on 083 640 8480.