Parkfields Primary leaders retire

Parkfields Primary School’s head of the foundation phase, Roćhan Arieff and principal Diane Williams, retired at the end of this term, after serving 45 and 43 years in education respectively. Among their proud moments, was the establishment of the school’s marching band. Seen are just some of the many trophies the school’s four teams have won. The fourth team is made entirely of sets of twins enrolled at the school.

As the school year came to an end, Parkfields Primary School in Hanover Park also bid farewell to two of its long-standing teachers.

Principal Diane Williams, 64, and head of the foundation phase department, Roćhan Arieff, 64, have both decided it’s time to hand over the baton, after 43 and 45 years, respectively.

Ms Williams started her career in education in 1981, at Liesbeeck Primary School in Mitchell’s Plain. She was only there for a year, before she moved to Parkfields Primary School. Over the years, she was appointed head of department and in 2014, took over the reins as principal.

Although she is retiring, Ms Williams said her heart will always remain with the Parkfields community.

She is well-known in Hanover Park, as she used to drive around the area either to give parents a lift home, for home visits, to find her pupils or to reprimand those who gamble on street corners.

“As a child, I used to ‘play school’. Also at that time, our career choices were limited. We could choose between nursing, social work or teaching. When I did my tertiary education at the then Bellville College, I was awarded for the best practical teaching. Then I knew this was my calling,” Ms Williams said.

She only had praises for Ms Arieff, who was instrumental in establishing a marching band at the school.

Ms Arieff has only ever taught at Parkfields. It was her love for children that led her to choose education.

“My teaching journey started in 1978. I studied at the then Hewatt College and later at the University of the Western Cape. I love working with children. This work is my passion. I am the treasurer of the Western Province Marching Association (WPMA), co-ordinator of our scholar patrol, and School Governing Body (SGB) treasurer. There were times when I only left school at 7pm at night, but I enjoyed every minute. I can’t see myself sitting at home doing nothing. I am emotional about leaving the children, but I spoke to my family and I can feel in my body that it was the right time to retire,” Ms Arieff said.

Both said they would miss the interaction with the pupils, staff and parents. Ms Williams said it was difficult for her not to hug the pupils during the Covid-19 pandemic. Both have also sowed the seeds for many successful people, including advocates, doctors, pharmacists and confectioners.

Ms Williams said she is looking forward to having “my own time”, because while at school your time is never your time. Ms Arieff, said among her hobbies is driving, and she will be doing more of it, continue her knitting projects for Red Cross Children’s Hospital and continuing her responsibility with the WPMA.