Winners of the Stella Clark Teachers' Award, 2015

from left: Assoc Prof Suellen Shay (Dean of CHED), Blessed Ngwenya (BSc student), David de Storie (teacher at Harold Cressy High School), Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price, Kenneth Tshabalala (teacher at Lesiba Secondary School), Yameen Motlala (BSocSc student) and Assoc Prof Rochelle Kapp (School of Education).

2015’s joint winners were Kenneth Tshabalala from Lesiba Secondary School in Daveyton, Gauteng, and David de Storie from Harold Cressy High School, in central Cape Town nominated by Yameen Motala, a first-year BSocSci student who matriculated at Harold Cressy, and Blessed Ngwenya, a first-year BSc student who completed his schooling at Lesiba High School. Both teachers have previously been recognised by their respective provincial education authorities for achieving 100% pass rates, but the Stella Clark Teachers’ Award has special meaning for the veteran teachers because it’s their former pupils who put them forward.

Tshabalala said the secret of his success was “investing time”. “I teach in the mornings, I teach during the periods, I teach in the afternoons. On Saturdays and Sundays, I am there. I arrive the earliest and leave the latest. I don’t take my learners for granted.” Another of his techniques was to encourage the students to get involved in teaching each other as a way of bedding down their knowledge. “Knowledge sharing is powerful,” is his motto. De Storie said the award was “unexpected” but an honour for the profession and his school. He stressed the importance of helping learners connect the concrete with the abstract, the practical with theory, and the known with the unknown. He believes in “intrinsic motivation” which allowed learners to “master the subject, the world and themselves”.

Ngwenya said in his nomination about his former teacher: “Despite the multiple roles that he has to play in the system of the school, he never fails his learners. “He is an educator, a father, friend, leader, guide and an inspiration to the youth ... Mr Tshabalala is the reason why I managed to get a good distinction for physical science and the rest of my subjects. It was his motivation and wise words that kept us going as a class. Ngwenya added: “I’m very grateful to have found a teacher like him at high school because if it weren’t for him, due to lack of resources and proper information, I wouldn’t have made it to UCT.”

To compile his motivation, Yameen Motala interviewed Mr de Storie and came away with an inspirational story and a 4500-word oral history. He wrote. “This is the story of a behind-the-scenes legend, the story of a real hero [who] had made it his mission to bring education to those who would otherwise go without it”. “He told me how he consciously decided to dedicate himself to help, develop and empower the youth, thereby continuing the struggle through education. This was linked to his realisation during the 1976 youth uprising that without education, the liberation of the country and its people would not be possible.” “Besides currently still teaching physical science at Harold Cressy High School, he continues to work with learners from disadvantaged backgrounds in various schools in the townships of Cape Town”.