Rosewood Primary School’s staff and pupils will say goodbye, at the end of the year, to principal Fahema Meyer, who retires after 43 years at the Bonteheuwel school.
Ms Meyer grew up in the area and attended both primary and high school there. Her 81-year-old mother still lives in their family home.
Teaching runs in their family: Ms Meyer is the second eldest of six daughters and four of them are teachers. The other two went into law.
Teaching, Ms Meyer says, was something she knew she wanted to do only after she actually started working as one.
“Those years, because our parents struggled financially, the idea was to leave school to find employment. Then you could complete Standard 8 (now Grade 10) and go to college for a teacher’s qualification. So when the opportunity came, I took it. I didn’t really know that teaching is what I wanted to do until I was in the job.”
Ms Meyer started her teaching career at Rosewood Primary — the only school she ever taught at. Her job in the beginning entailed a lot of house visits to parents, especially when a child was absent, she says.
When the pupils crawled into her heart she knew she was where she was meant to be, she says.
“I loved being in the classroom. It also broke my heart to witness the level of poverty at some of the homes. My heart went out for the little ones. I remember one family, in particular, where both parents were unemployed and struggling. I used to take them groceries. That is how we operated those years. That is what teaching is about.”
For much of her career, Ms Meyer was a foundation phase teacher and a learning-support teacher for those pupils with learning barriers.
During this time, she also completed her matric and tertiary studies to improve her qualifications. She was later appointed as head of department. In 2010, Ms Meyer was appointed principal — the sixth in the school’s history. The job, she says, is “a big responsibility with bigger challenges”.
In 2015, Rosewood Primary moved to its new premises, as the school was rebuilt. The new building, Ms Meyer says, is what the children deserve.
“I have the most hard-working staff, the most supportive governing body, the best pupils and parents — even when there were challenges, we dealt with it. I will miss the children especially. Nowadays people are so impatient with children, but I always maintain that every child has a story, and teaching has become more challenging over the years. However, it is their story that impacts their learning, and we must get to know our pupils.”
Ms Meyer says she plans to take a little break and then return to see how can help the school.
“Rosewood is close to my heart — after 43 years, I cannot just leave. One never really leaves. There are other retired teachers who come here and keep in contact all the time.”