The Herald (South Africa)
School’s out for veteran teacher
● Greenwood deputy principal Elaine Thompson retires after nearly 40 years
After almost four decades of devoted service and sacrifice, Greenwood Primary School deputy principal Elaine Thompson will hang up her highly decorated hat tomorrow.
The 65-year-old has touched the lives of thousands of pupils since she first entered the corridors of the school in 1977 as a foundation phase teacher, only having being absent from class for a five-year hiatus to raise her triplets.
And while she was described as devoted, compassionate, reliable and a leader by her peers, Thompson said yesterday that teaching was in fact not her first career choice.
“I wanted to be an air hostess but when that did not work out, I studied towards being a teacher and was one of the first graduates at the Port Elizabeth Teachers Training Centre,” she said.
Despite her initial dream not falling into place, Thompson said contributing to the development of young minds soon changed her own thinking about her career choice.
“I developed a passion for teaching once I got into the field.
“I loved watching the growth of pupils from the time they arrive to when they have to leave.
“You find yourself saying ‘Wow, I taught someone something’. It is a satisfying feeling’,” Thompson said.
Having taught at the 44year-old school for 39 years, she has seen the gradual growth of the Park Drive institution and contributed to its development during her tenure.
Citing the schools enrolment figures, she said the school started off with about 285 pupils and now had up to 875 pupils.
“The demographics in Central changed over the years, the population density grew and the department of education closed North End Grey, which was a school for partially hearing pupils, and thrust them [pupils] to our school.
“The curriculum allowed us to have technical drawing, woodwork and needlework rooms, and they were large.
“We divided those rooms, which are upstairs, with walls, we soundproofed them because the [partially hearing] pupils wear assisted devices, and we added six more classes,” Thompson said.
One of her fondest memories of her time at the school was sharing her love for nature with her pupils during a visit to the Zuurberg Mountains.
She recalled how she and the pupils spent the nights lying in the field and looking at the stars, before a bunch of grade 3 pupils piled into her tent for the night.
Thompson has served under six headmasters and in 2014 was appointed as deputy head of the school.
She also headed the institutional learner support team and was the secretary of the school governing body.
Greenwood headmaster Gary Pike hailed Thompson’s contribution to the institutional learner support team comprising specialist social workers, psychologists, counsellors, and remedial speech and language therapists.
“Mrs Thompson has been my rock.
“Reliable, obliging, composed and kind-hearted.
“She’s been an invaluable pillar of support during my tenures as acting headmaster and headmaster over the past 12 years,” Pike said.
The school’s other deputy principal, Karl Lokotsch, said Thompson was devoted to her job, compassionate and a leader.