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5 March, 2007

WCED awards top maths, science and technology teachers

Three teachers from Worcester, Cape Town and Paarl have won the provincial Aggrey Klaaste Maths, Science and Technology Teacher of the Year Awards for 2007.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) presented the awards on Friday night, 2 March 2007, in association with The Telkom Foundation, The Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation and the Sowetan newspaper.

The awards are named after the late Aggrey Klaaste, a respected journalist. Amongst many other things, he will best be remembered for his Nation Building Initiative, which he introduced when he became Editor of the Sowetan newspaper in 1988, during the most turbulent time in the history of Apartheid South Africa.

The Maths, Science & Technology Educator of the Year Awards is arguably is one of the most successful projects in the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building portfolio. Over the past few years, it has become a prestigious programme that continues to uncover top achievers among South Africaís teaching corps.

Now in their ninth year, the awards recognize excellence in teaching maths, science and technology in general and further education and training in schools (GET and FET), and the contribution of retired teachers.

The WCED will now send the names of the winners of the Western Cape awards to the national Department of Education for consideration for the national awards, to be presented on 22 March 2007. The Western Cape winners are:

  • Category: Practising Educator, GET: Ms Joey Griessel, Worcester East Primary School, Worcester.

  • Category: Practising Educator, FET: Mr Zeid Baker, South Peninsula High School, Cape Town.

  • Category: Retired Educator: Ms Denise Ontong, formerly of William Lloyd Primary School, Paarl.

Criteria for the awards include their track record in producing good results, their passion for the subject and how they instill a love of the subject among learners, leading by example, respected by their community, and their involvement in the communities they serve.

The judges assess candidatesí knowledge of the public image of maths, science and technology. The educators must be active in professional associations, have excellent content knowledge, and must present themselves well.

Ms Griessel a Senior Teacher, is head of the Natural Sciences learning area, Grade 6 head and coordinator of the Intermediate Phase at Worcester East Primary.

In these capacities, she has worked tirelessly to ensure excellence in teaching and learning, through her own teaching, and through the leadership and support she gives to her colleagues and learners.

The schoolís results reflect this commitment, which has been noted by high schools attended by learners from Worcester East.

Ms Griessel has attended a wide range of courses and has played a leading role in promoting natural sciences, conservation and awareness of energy issues among parents, the business community and in the broader community.

Mr Baker, an ex-student of South Peninsula High School, has a B Ed degree specializing in Science Education. He has obtained excellent matric results throughout his career at the school.

He is an excellent demonstrator of Science practicals and has acted as moderator in matric Biology examinations. Mr Baker regularly enters South Peninsula students in the UCT Science Olympiad.

The organizers of the National Science Olympiad invited him to judge the Olympiad in Pretoria last year. He saw three Grade 10 students present a project in Pretoria last year in a programme organized by the Department of Public Works.

Mr Baker and a colleague were the Western Cape winners of the Excellence in Secondary School teaching awards in 2002. He was offered a Fulbright scholarship in the United States, but declined owing to family and financial commitments. In addition to teaching, he is deputy principal of the school and has acted as principal.

Ms Ontong has committed herself to supporting maths, science and technology education voluntarily since she retired five years ago.

She works with 42 schools in the Paarl, Wellington, Simondium, Mbekweni and Franschoek areas. Her many achievements include establishing four maths and science community centers where she draws learners from various schools together to learn more about maths and science after school and during school holidays.

Projects of the maths and science centers include preparing learners for local and provincial Maths Olympiads and Science Expos.

Ms Ontong and a group of teachers have facilitated the Maths Olympiad process in Paarl, to prepare learners for the provincial Olympiad held annually at the University of Cape Town.

Ms Ontong and her team have also encouraged schools to participate in Science Expos. As a result, 28 schools participated in the local Expo last year, where 128 learners presented 64 projects.

Twenty-five of these projects appeared at the provincial Expo in Stellenbosch. Three learners presented their projects on a national level in Pretoria in September, accompanied by Ms Ontong.

The three winners of the provincial awards each won R5,000 and a certificate of recognition. Ms Griessel and Mr Baker received personal computers. Ms Griesselís school won a computer laboratory, while Mr Bakerís school won a science centre.

The GET category had nine finalists, while the FET category had five. The judges shortlisted four finalists for the award for retired teachers.

Issued by:
Paddy Attwell
Director: Communication
Western Cape Education Department
Tel: 021 467 2531
Fax: 021 461 3694
Email: pattwell@pgwc.gov.za

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