After thirty-eight years in teaching, Charlene Daniels is ready to dust off the chalkboard and enjoy her retirement.
Ms Daniels, 60, finished Grade 10 at Belgravia High School in 1978 and graduated from Battswood Teacher Training College in 1982 with a diploma in teaching.
She started her career the following year, at Vanguard Primary School, where she taught Grade 3 pupils English, Afrikaans, life skills, and maths, while studying part-time to complete her matric.
She became the head of department for the school’s foundation phase in 2009.
Ms Daniels’s love for teaching has developed over the years, but she says choosing it as a profession was shaped by the limited career choices available to people of colour under apartheid.
The difficulties Covid-19 has brought to teaching – not least trying to hear what pupils are saying through their masks – is one of the reasons she is retiring now.
“Over the years, I really developed a passion for teaching, a love for my pupils, and now their kids are at our school. I’ve become part of their families, and I’ve had generations in my class. When I look back at the number of kids I taught and how successful they are now, I feel so proud and that has always been my motivation to stay at Vanguard.”
She says she will look back with fondness at the way her pupils made her smile and laugh with all their stories over the years
The mother of two is looking forward to enjoying some free time and has no plans for her retirement, but she hopes to travel soon.
The school’s deputy principal, Howard February, has worked alongside Ms Daniels since 1983. He says she is a very dedicated and passionate teacher and one who was always involved in the lives of her pupils.
“She always went the extra mile for her pupils. She would buy them food and clothes and take it to their houses if she knew they struggled. She was always concerned about her pupils’ well-being. She was a very pleasant person who got on well with everyone and she made everyone feel good in her company with her jovial personality.”
Well wishes poured in for Ms Daniels on the school’s Facebook page.
Burt Patience said: “Wow Awesomeness. Talk about loyalty and perseverance. Congratulations. Enjoy the Golden Years.”
Anieko Moseley Bloomberg said: “You are still so beautiful just like in the 80s when I was in your class. Enjoy retirement, Mrs Daniels.”
Ronette Brander said: “Wow, congratulations on your retirement! You look too young to retire, miss. May the next season be an amazing one.”