Cheryl Abrahams started her teaching career at Woodlands Primary in Heideveld straight from college in 1977, and she remained there for 45 years, until her retirement at the end of the last school term.
Asked why she chose teaching as a career, Ms Abrahams, 64, said that as a young woman, she could only choose between nursing and teaching. Her love for teaching had made the choice so much easier.
“Being at school was like therapy for me. Once I stepped onto the school grounds, I forgot all my problems that I might have had at home. We are really like a family. I have grown to love the children so much, and the staff has a wonderful camaraderie.
“Throughout the dark days of apartheid, up until now, we always stick together. Over the years, we’ve also shared many losses, as colleagues passed on, but we supported each other, and, in the process, we grew even more closer to one another.”
Although she will miss her pupils, Ms Abrahams is confident that she, as a foundation-phase teacher, prepared them well for their future. Some of her former pupils now live in Ireland, America and New Zealand.
Over the years, Ms Abrahams has worked with five principals, and sings the praises of the current principal, Anthony Meyer, who took over when the former principal, Douglas Coert, died.
“Mr Meyer is a people’s person. He is a principled principal who took us under his wings when we were in mourning and helped to ease the loss. I would like to thank him for everything. He is really a remarkable, outstanding person.”
Mr Meyer said Ms Abrahams went far beyond her call of duty and she would be missed at school.
“She just wanted to teach but through the years has cemented her role at the school by being part of Eisteddfod, the netball and other cultural events. A total of 45 years of service to the Heideveld community is a record in her own right. She gave of herself for our children and their families. If a child would struggle, she would give of her own without anybody knowing. Ms Abrahams would send groceries to the family.
“We are going to struggle to fill her shoes at Woodlands. She gave unselfishly of herself. We at Woodlands are eternally grateful for the years she worked and gave to us. She is so dedicated to the school that when we could not find a replacement for her, she offered to remain until we found a suitable candidate to replace her.”
During the last week of the school term, the staff and officials from the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) gathered at the school for a celebration in honour of Ms Abrahams.
Ms Abrahams said she was looking forward to spending more time with her granddaughter, doing more arts and crafts and travelling.