Winner of the Stella Clark Teachers' Award, 2010

The award winner for 2010, Mrs Nompilo Jojo (affectionately known to her students as “Ma’am Jojo”) obtains outstanding Mathematics results at Clydesdale Senior Secondary School in the rural Umzimkhulu town of KwaZulu-Natal. Described by principal, Vangeli Gamede (a UCT alumnus), as the pillar of the Clydesdale school, Mrs Jojo’s weapons for success are patience, sacrifice and motivation.

In her motivation UCT Health Sciences’ student, Nondumiso Ngubo, spoke of how Mrs Jojo served as a role model for her students, always motivating them to work harder and not to underestimate their abilities. She spoke of Ma’am Jojo’s role at a difficult point in Clydesdale’s School’s history:

“…there were many predictions saying that it was going to be a disaster only in mathematics. The eyes of the community were focused on Clydesdale Secondary, which in previous years had led in achieving distinctions. Despite all these challenges, Ma’am Jojo won the trust of our parents and amazed many by producing a number of distinctions in mathematics.”

At the Awards’ ceremony, Mrs Jojo spoke of how she often has to deal with hungry learners who dislike Mathematics, and who lack the proper foundation for the subject. In such a context, she has to go back to basics: “When you are building a house, you can’t put blocks in the air. You must put other blocks where you feel there is air.” In her motivation, Nondumiso described in great detail how Mrs Jojo’s passion and dedication facilitated the building of these blocks:

“I still remember the way my classmates and I loved maths. Every day, after the maths period, we used to come into small groups and discuss what was being said during the period. If we had anything that we did not understand, we used to go to the staffroom and ask our teacher during the lunch time. She was approachable; she never chased us away saying it was her break time. Instead, she always tried by all means to make us understand by explaining, giving us study guides, and other relevant sources of information. […] To keep us active, she also used to give us tasks to go and find information by ourselves before she explained to the class. That increased our skills to work in groups and our abilities to do research using relevant study guides and textbooks.”