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Nightmare Exam

The invigilator is tall and dark with a post office worker’s moustache.   His face is expressionless, bored.  He calls for silence by banging on the table with a ruler.   I hear the odd nervous cough echoing from candidate to candidate.  I am ramrod still as the question paper floats above my desk. I have no idea what the subject is as I grab it from the air.   I turn it over to discover – Science!  I stare in disbelief – I know I didn’t attend one lecture let alone sign up for the test!

I see my fellow students heads bent, busily dashing down their knowledge onto their answer sheets.

I try to pick up my pencil but it’s too heavy – I can’t seem to lift it.  It’s as if a magnet is holding it to the desk when suddenly it comes away but then becomes bendy and rubbery.  It has an impish face, which looks at it me – it’s long lashes blinking.

“Why don’t you grab me?”

“I’ve tried – you just slip through my fingers”

“Oh for goodness sake, who has the thumb here?”

“Well you keep bending, you rubbery escaper of work!”

“Blame the tool as much as you please.  It’s you who has to take control.”

“Anyway – even if I get you – I won’t know what to write.”

“Just grab and hold on tightly.  I’ll do the rest.   Trust me!”’

The bored invigilator clears his throat and glares warningly in my direction.   The genius scientists scribble on.

I grab the pencil tightly.  My hand takes on a life of its own.  I barely read the questions as it flies across the page and words whose meanings I do not comprehend appear eloquently upon the page.   I hear a giggle of delight from my magic pencil.  A bell rings – time is up.   I sit up with a jerk.  It’s my alarm clock!

2

Back in the Classroom – Awards Ceremony, Teddy Picnic and so we say Farewell

And so my last year of full time teaching has come to an end.  I admit to having become just a tad emotional on a few occasions this week! But I live just two minutes from my school and they’re not getting rid of me that easily and even though Hubby and I have plans to seldom be at home, I am sure I will be popping in to help from time to time.

On Monday I had the honour of presenting the special awards to the Grade Threes at our Foundation Phase Awards Ceremony.  What a thrill to see some of my past girls doing especially well.

Awards

Board of Governor’s Award

 

The winner of The Speaker Reader Trophy is the grandson of a very special person in my life and I also knew his late father who was at school with my daughter.  Muriel, he is just so very much like his daddy and you can be as proud of Noah as you were of your special boy, Reagon.

Noah

After this, one of my past Grade Ones presented me with a bouquet of flowers, a gift voucher and a gold medal inscribed with MASTER EDUCATOR!   Well I guess if you’ve been teaching on and off for 4 decades you do deserve a medal 🙂

Gemma and Me

Our Awards Ceremonies are lovely.  Each teacher pre-records a message and as her children come up onto the stage, it is broadcast over the sound system.   I love listening to everybody’s speeches and it is specially good to hear what they have to say about the ones you’ve taught in the past or got to know at sport or just from seeing them around. Here are my precious class proudly standing on stage with their certificates.

My Class with awards

My class were last to be presented with their awards and at the end of my voice-over I continued with a brief thank you.  What a lovely response I had to that – thank you everybody.  I have posted my voice over at the end of this blog.

The girls didn’t come to school on Tuesday as it was the turn of the Intermediate phase to have their awards ceremony. It was my pleasure to take care of a Grade 4 class while they waited excitedly to be called.

Today we ended the term with Teddy Bear’s Picnic!   The girls arrived in a great state of excitement armed with their amazing bears and also some gifts for me!   I said, “You are all very naughty. You’re not supposed to spoil your teacher.”

“Oh yes, we are!” they chorused back.

Thank you moms and dads. Your gifts, cards and letters wishing me well in my retirement are much appreciated.  I am posting just a few of the many photographs kindly taken by Teacher Assistant Carol.

Me and My Girls

The Girls, The Bears, Paddington and Me

 

Caitlin

What a lovely elephant!

Amber G and Teddy

Totally relaxed with my bear

Amber T

One very spoilt teacher

Tatum and Sierra

We love our bears – we love each other!

Lucie

A person’s a person no matter how small! The same goes for bears!

Faith

What a gorgeous cuddly leopard telling me how special I am!

Masintle with Bear

 

Earlier in the day I was banished from the classroom so that the girls could create something special for me – A Card – I suspect has been put into my pigeon hole and I shall collect it tomorrow, last day for the teachers.   While I was in the staffroom waiting to be allowed back in – I smelled an amazing aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Can’t be, I thought, as our machine is not working – but there was Danielle carrying a tray for one towards me – “Ek wil iets nice vir Ms Fenwick doen – want ek sal jou miss!”  Nice – Danielle – that’s the nicest thing you could ever have done to this coffee starved teacher at 9 in the morning!  I am hugely touched!

Danielle doing something nice for me

Danielle doing something nice for me

And that is what is so special about my school.  Everybody from the top down cares and will go the extra mile for a child or a colleague.

Thank you  to all the parents of all the children I have taught, for your support as teacher assistants, transporters to outings, providers of cakes for cake sales and for helping with homework and supporting me in every way.   It has been a pleasure and privilege to be part of your children’s lives.

Voice-Over 2014

Precious girls– This year has been very special for me. From Day 1 I have savoured every moment knowing that it would be my last as a class teacher. Thank you for making it a special one.

You have been a class of diverse little characters and you will each, along with all the other little girls I have taught at Sun Valley, for ever hold a special place in my heart.

  1. Jenna Cothill – Your persistence and positive risk taking has helped you overcome so much – well done my girl.
  2. Jenna Cumming. Your display of wonderment and awe at everything new is inspiring. Keep enjoying every fresh moment of your life.
  3. Montana – I will miss your quiet determination to succeed. Keep it up my clever girl.
  4. Zoe – You may be small but you are full of character and everybody’s favourite. You go girl.
  5. Olivia – clever, outgoing, spunky and full of fun – Hold on to that positive attitude.
  6. Caitlin – You ask good questions and insist I teach you till you understand. You’ve kept me on my toes.
  7. Amber G – beautiful girl well done for coming out tops. You are very special
  8. Rachel – my creative dreamer – you have amazed me with your progress.
  9. Feisty and determined Aphila – you have jumped hurdles and I am so proud of you.
  10. Little Sam – persisting and taking positive risks – Never give up.
  11. Tatum – so creative and full of energy – keep striving to do your best.
  12. Tahila my quietly confident angel, I will miss your beautiful work. You go girl.
  13. Precious Scarlet – full of inner strength – keep up the good work.
  14. Linet – you have a strong character which will take you far – I am super proud of you.
  15. Tenacious Tino – you have surpassed yourself – You have filled me with admiration.
  16. Sierra breezing in daily with a positive attitude – you rock.
  17. Leah – my deep thinking, smart girl – keep up the good work
  18. Shaqayeq – beautiful, exotic and quietly brilliant – you have impressed me.
  19. Mbali – my precious, feisty girl who has worked so very hard, you are an inspiration.
  20. Sienna – my flexible thinker, you do not miss a beat and if I do, you are quick to set me right. Keep it up my girl.
  21. Indyana – you think and communicate with clarity and precision while showing compassion for others – you are a very special girl.
  22. Jennissa – your batteries are constantly charged and you are always ready for action. You go girl.
  23. Sweet, talented Aniqah – keep reaching for your dreams – you have so much potential
  24. Cassie you seem so often to be in your own world but you always come up with the right answers – well done my angel.
  25. Gentle but determined Michaela – you have made strides this year. Keep it up special girl.
  26. Amber T – you have strived for accuracy and produced beautiful work. You have made me proud.
  27. Masintle my sweet, gentle girl, your calmness inspires sanity in me.
  28. Julia you have worked well and impressed me with your independent thinking – I will miss your shy smile.
  29. Faith what strides you have made this year. You blasted off slowly but at the end raced to the target.  Well done sweet girl.
  30. Zjonte you bounce into class with zest every day – I will miss your enthusiasm and energy.
  31. Lucie – my creative, innovative and imaginative thinker – You have your own unique approach to your work – Keep on that path, girl.

 

And so girls, you have come to the end of your very first year of big school.  Remember, if you dream it you can do it. YOU ARE FABULOUS.  GIRL POWER TO YOU ALL.

And this is where I’m meant to stop but as this is my last Awards Ceremony I would like to take this opportunity to express my farewells. It has been my privilege to have had an 11 year association with Sun Valley School.  First it was in the capacity of room parent, class rep and/or supply teacher.  In 2011 I came for four months but stayed for almost four years!

I have had a chequered career in education for 4 decades and loved every minute and I am privileged to go out on a high note from this amazing school.

My colleagues in every grade have been awesome but the bond I have with my Grade colleagues now is beyond amazing. Lisa, you were there quietly supporting me as a gap when I arrived in 2011 and you’ve been an inspiring colleague. I really do want to be like you when I grow up.  Bridgette you totally get me and help me keep my sense of humour, I will miss your wonderful laugh. Monique thank you for being my memory and relentlessly driving me to get things done weeks before deadline. Somehow you failed to see my advancing years and kept me young.

You guys rock and I can see that I will be drawn back to assist in the Grade One passage between trips across the planet.

Thank you to my amazing boss, Gavin for having me crew on this ship of exploration into the world of innovative education. The journey has been exciting, stimulating and adventurous. It has been the best trip of my life.

To everybody at the Sun Valley Group – children, parents, Estate staff, Admin, Exco and teaching staff.  What a privilege it has been to be on this A team.  I will miss you all. Farewell but not Goodbye

 

 

 

 

 

1

Back in the Classroom – They’re on their way!

It only really hit me on Friday that the end had come.  I have been taking it one day at a time, sticking to routine, enjoying the specialness of each precious little girl and not thinking about the fact that I would soon be sending them on to the next teacher!

Of course we had spoken about how they felt about  moving on in a care circle.  This is what they said:  “I am a little bit nervous but I’m also excited”  “I am looking forward to learning new things”  “I know in Grade 2 I will learn about birds and bats and that’s exciting” “We’re going to build things and I like that” “I will miss you and I hope my new teacher will be kind” “I want you to be our new Grade 2 teacher!”

Who the new teacher would be was a closely kept secret.  They’re all going up together so their was a great deal of speculation as to who it could be – was it the teacher who took last year’s girls?  I told them it could be anybody – Maybe Coach K (Grade 7 male teacher) would come down to teach Grade 2 – anything is possible. They shrieked in delight and at home time one reported to her dad – Coach K might be my new teacher!

Friday finally dawned. The girls arrived full of excitement and expectation.  They were noisy, fidgety, over-the-top and I had to calm them down before we could do anything constructive.  The choir girls (half my class) had to go off to practice so normal routine could not be followed. The remaining girls did some fun worksheets until the others returned.  I just managed to complete handwriting when we all had to go to our Award Ceremony Practice.   And that was that.  We returned to pack up, tidy the classroom, have our snack and go out to break.

At 11 o’clock, armed with their stationery I took them to the meeting place.  Mrs K announced who the Grade 2 teachers would be.  My class were first and they cheered when they heard the great news that they were to be with pretty, young Miss Mey!

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Waiting in anticipation

Where is Mrs Fenwick's Class?

Where is Mrs Fenwick’s Class?

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In the new classroom on a much bigger mat!

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This is not the teacher were we were expecting!

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She helps us too!

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Do you like it?

While my girls were wrenched from my care I was left feeling rather bereft – I had no new little ones to welcome to soften the blow but I know I’ll get over it – there are new horizons for me too.

At the end of the day the girls returned content with the knowledge that they had landed on Planet Second Grade without mishap and the continuing journey is going to be just as exciting.

But it’s not quite over in Grade One yet!  We have our Awards Ceremony on Monday, Tuesday – no school for you, girls.   And on Wednesday we bid a final farewell to each other with a Teddy Bears’ Picnic – So remember to bring you favourite cuddly toy, a healthy snack, juice and a treat!

 

 

1

Back in the Classroom – Grade Seven Market Day

The term is fast drawing to a close – just one full week to go and then three days of Awards Ceremonies and Breaking Up.   It is a time when the children begin to realise that their time in Grade One is coming to an end and they need to prepare themselves change yet again.  Therefore they are restless and a little emotional so the best thing to do is stick to routine as much as possible – not easy when there is so much out of the ordinary happening.

I am so proud of my girls, though, as they are still working very hard to that next level in Reading and to master their sums in the higher number ranges.   How far they have come since that first tentative step into “big school”

One of our big interruptions this week was the Grade Seven Market Day.   Everything was beautifully set up in the hall and the courtyard outside.   The girls could buy books of 10 tickets for R10 and then go and spend to their hearts content.  And what a lot there was to buy!  Our money lessons were put to practical use as they carefully counted their R1 vouchers and considered about how best to spend them.

I got my face painted

I got my face painted

A sugar high was the order of the day

A sugar high was the order of the day

The Grade Sevens were super attentive

The Grade Sevens were super attentive

We promise we won't be hyper!

We promise we won’t be hyper!

Yum!!

Yum!!

Look what we got!

Look what we got with money to spare!

I think I'll try this hat

I think I’ll try this hat

Everything looked so exciting

Everything looked so exciting

But in spite of regular interruptions for all things exciting we still had a good week of work and next week  we will be making booklets for our Grade 2 teachers.   They need to know how very smart we are!

2

Back in the Classroom – Outing to Rondevlei, Gala and Birthday

As promised here is the report about our amazing field trip to Rondevlei.

The Rondevlei Nature Reserve is located in Grassy Park, Zeekoevlei and Lavenderhill, suburbs of Cape Town. The bird sanctuary covers approximately 290 hectares of mostly permanent wetland and consists of a single large brackish lagoon which attracts many water birds.

Once again Ann and Andrea were there to present a puppet show and teach the children about the importance of wetlands.  After this there was a nature walk, a climb up a tall tower giving us a bird’s eye view of the vlei and a  visit to one or two of the hides.

The children had an amazing time and surprised their teachers and guides with their informed answers to questions and interest in their environment.

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Ready for the puppet show

 

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Monty helped a baby Spoonbill find his mom. “Look at my beak and look at my feet. Go and find some other birds to meet.”

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Enjoying a picnic in a beautiful setting

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We learnt about creatures other than birds too.

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It was fun in the hides.

Other than going to places far and wide we have been preparing for our Assembly presentation of the Dr Seuss stories we’ve been reading.  What fun the children had reciting extracts from The Cat in the Hat, The Grinch, The Lorax and Gertrude Mc Fuzz.  Our class made bird masks and two performed the part of Gertrude and Lolla Lee Lou.   And how well they did that.  We also had some solo singers for “Let it grow.”  The teachers were very proud of their performance on Friday.

Gertrude Mc Fuzz and Lolla Lee Lou

Gertrude Mc Fuzz and Lolla Lee Lou

The entire cast

The entire cast singing Let it Grow from The Lorax

Friday was an exciting day as we also had our Foundation Phase Gala straight after Assembly.  Imagine the excitement!  There were championship races and then the Fun Races.  The Grade Ones were supported by the Grade 7 life savers as they swam a width, claimed a pair of socks and put them on their wet hands and then swam back again.  The little ones were safe but I did fear for the life saver when one decided to ride on his back!

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Ready to swim!

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I have my goggles

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Ready with the life savers

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Am I winning?

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Keep kicking

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Get those socks on

The Champions

The Champions

 

And to add to all the excitement the girls somehow got wind of the fact that it was my birthday next day.  So there were gifts to open and cake to be consumed!  This had to wait till right at the end of a long and exhausting day.  Thank you parents for allowing your children to spoil me.

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Pretty little creatures

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She knows I like owls!

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A complimentary card

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Such pretty mugs inside – thank you Michaela

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I was just too spoiled

 

 

 

3

Back in the Classroom – Don’t mess with my Civvies Day, Teacher!

Teaching Grade One has been the biggest adventure of my life. I have loved every second and learnt more from the children than they have from me. I try to keep in their good books as much as they try to keep in mine and so far I think I have been pretty good – until yesterday! Let me explain.
Assembly is tough for Grade One – Good Heavens you have to sit still for so long! Yes there are movement songs and fun things to do in between the spells of sitting and being good but so much of it is higher grade thinking. So the principal gives us incentives to be good and after three perfect behaviour assemblies you get to come to school in mufti (civvies to the kiddies) So after last week’s assembly the little girls were informed that on the following Friday they could come to school in their prettiest clothes. The excitement was great but Time is not a strong point for these young geniuses. So of course Teacher writes in the diary or reminds them the day before that the day for the favour has arrived. Except that in our case The Teacher was held up in a meeting for the last part of the day and a GAP dismissed the class. NO reminder in diary and no verbal reminder! Uh oh! Well 26 out of the 31 remembered and arrived all excited and out of control in their stunning attire but 5 did not! Teacher apologized to said princesses and begged forgiveness. Five very different reactions – Laid back O laughed it off and was cool with being in uniform. Another was clearly annoyed but got over it pretty quickly – a more sensitive miss was devastated and burst into tears but accepted a comforting hug. But the fourth was fu-ri-ous and in spite of being offered a treat the following Monday – refused to talk to Teacher and just glowered at her. The fifth one arrived a tad late and refused to enter the classroom until I told her a treat was in store then she quickly got over it and bounced in. The secretary arrived with a message and I confided to her that I was in the dog box. Kind hearted as she is, she said she’d fix it and sms’d the mommies and daddies and before long parcels of clothing arrived to all except one. Hugs and smiles returned and Teacher was back in favour! Phew – thanks Michele! There is no wrath worse than that of a child deprived of her civvies day!
The one whose parents simply could not get to school was rewarded with a treat and that made up for everything, forgiving little soul that she is!
No photographs today, parents, but watch this space – we had a wonderful outing to Rondevlei on Thursday but they’re still in the process of being downloaded onto the school system and I am currently away from the weekend without the memory card.
The term is fast drawing to a close. My career is fast drawing to an end! I am savouring every remaining moment and enjoying my little girls so much.
I have been preparing final reports and awards ceromony certificates and the process has reminded me how far our girls have come. What a privilege to have been part of the process.
Parents please make every effort to be at our last assembly on Friday – It’s going to be a good one!

1

Back in the Classroom – Three weeks of fun and work

Yes, I know I haven’t blogged for three weeks!  And how those weeks have flown!

I think I am in denial and want the last weeks of this year to fold out slowly.  I need to savour every moment and to enjoy my last term of class teaching.   The fourth term – a time that is so rewarding for a Grade One teacher while at the same time making her little sad that these little ones who have come so far will gleefully be going on to a new teacher the following year!

We have thrown ourselves right into this final term.   Over the first weekend back the teachers attended an inspiring course (e-colors in Education) which our parents and pupils will hear about all to soon in the new year.  In brief we all learned how to profile our personalities and the got to grips with understanding ourselves and our colleagues better. It was the best workshop I have attended in my entire teaching career.

In the classroom the girls are striding ahead faster than ever.  We have learnt about money, time and maps.  Homes are our topic for Life Skills. Our reading is bounding at a terrific pace and we have leapt from writing just our news to putting our creative thoughts down on paper.

Assessments have begun and I am confident that all the girls are well and truly ready for Grade Two.

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The Red-Yellows – Socialising doers – reporting back on their strengths and potential limiters

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Creating a die to help teach us the different coins

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Budding Cartographers

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An elaborate map

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I know where I am going

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Just follow the yellow brick road

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I can find my way

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Such architecture!

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Different types of homes

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An elaborate building

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Busily building all kinds of homes

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I’m proud of my construction

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Friends help each other read

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Lets work it out together

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I’ll read first, then it’s your turn