Teacher raises pressing issues

Hilary Cupido, a Zeekoevlei Primary School teacher, wrote two books to advocate for help for pupils and to give new teachers a guide to assist them with daily struggles.

A Lotus River woman with 22 years of teaching experience is hoping to bring about positive change for pupils and teachers.

Hilary Cupido, a mother of three, former pupil and now teacher at Zeekoevlei Primary, started writing at a young age.

She has put her writing skills to work in two books to educate and inform people of the plight of teachers – specifically those at government schools.

In her first book, Unnoticed Warriors, Ms Cupido talks about her personal experiences at school gives insight of the daily struggle.

She also shares stories about pupils who are going through difficulties and face adversity in their homes and communities.

“I believe my sharing of stories will bring about a positive change of people’s hearts and attitude toward these vulnerable children.”

The cover for Unnoticed Warriors.

She said people don’t understand what teachers are going through in classrooms.

“Learners are drug addicted, some as young as Grade 1, many come from single parent homes and dysfunctional families and deal with so many social issues. The department doesn’t really understand what we as educators are going through between those four walls. Our learners really need help,” she said.

Ms Cupido mentioned a child who saw his father commit suicide and said there’s not been any intervention.

“He will have to deal with that for the rest of his life but there has been no ongoing counselling or therapy. These children become disruptive and people think he has a behaviour problem but that is not the issue – the underlying issue is that our coloured children don’t get the help they need. Some of them need to see psychiatrists and therapists but nothing is being done for them.”

Ms Cupido grew up in a broken and abusive home and said she knows what many of the children are going through.

“We also never got therapy for it so now I’m seeking out help, especially from the department of education, to step in and provide these services for learners. We find social workers come to the school once or twice and then they are never seen again. This needs to change because at the moment we are the social workers, and in all honesty we are not equipped.

“When we come back from school holidays we are already anxious because then we worry about what happened to our children during the holidays. And many teachers go home stressed and crying because once the children step out of the school gate they are out there fending for themselves. We are told by the department to teach the curriculum but how do you teach a child who was raped and is now pregnant?”

Mentor Magic seeks to help new teachers in their roles at government schools.

The second book called Mental Magic was written for novice teachers who are stepping into the teaching world and aims to simplify the process by sharing practical tips that have proven effective in her own experience.

“Most of these young teachers go to study but they are not told what’s really happening in the sector and what happens in the classroom so they enter government schools where challenges like discipline and substance abuse can be very overwhelming,” she said.

Her advice for new teachers is to set the tone and atmosphere in the class and try to make it a safe and loving environment.

“Know your learners, have one-on-ones and remember that in most cases it’s always the learners with the discipline problems that have underlying issues and they are the ones seeking attention and help.”

She said the book is also a guide to help leaders and management teams and experienced teachers to work efficiently.

“God has placed me in this profession and at Zeekoevlei to help as much as I can and I’m hoping we can get some more help for our learners through my books.”

Ms Cupido also thanked all teachers who are going above and beyond to assist their pupils.

The books can be bought on NS Skrywer’s website and cost R130 each and 15% of the sales will go towards raising funds for a school taxi.