Teachers retire with a collective service of 165 years

Four teachers from Wingen Heights Secondary recently retired with a collective 165 years of service to education. They now plan on travelling, spending much-needed time with their spouses and even trying out ballroom dancing

Kamala Naicker, Sarah Paul, Ragini Sayed Hassan and Pravina Ramcharan. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 23, 2024

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Four teachers from Wingen Heights Secondary recently retired with a collective 165 years of service to education. They now plan on travelling, spending much-needed time with their spouses and even trying out ballroom dancing.

The teachers are Ragini Sayed Hassan, Kamala Naicker, Sarah Paul and Pravina Ramcharan.

Hassan, 63, from Malvern, started teaching at the school when it opened in July 1982.

“Over the years, I rose from level one teacher of English to deputy principal and acting principal in 2023. I have 42 years of service in education.”

She said she was a moderator for the Umlazi district and her degree in psychology counselling helped her instil discipline at the school.

“I had an excellent relationship with all my pupils and parents. The pupils knew I was a disciplinarian.”

Hassan said she was concerned about the impact social media had on children.

“Due to social media, children are no longer taking the time to read. They would rather be on their devices. This has a major impact on education. Social media is also an avenue for cyberbullying. Parents need to be educated on these matters.”

In her retirement she will spend time with her grandchildren.

Naicker, 63, from Pinetown, had mixed emotions about retiring after 42 years of service.

“Leaving school, which I regarded as my second home, is bittersweet. I feel joy and excitement for the new opportunities retirement has in store for me.”

In 1982, after graduating, she started teaching at Asoka High School and joined Wingen Heights Secondary in 1986.

“One of my highlights was my matric class achieving a 100% pass in accounting and producing more than 26 distinctions in one class in a matric year.”

She said a challenge was teaching children from different socio-economic backgrounds.

“Some pupils found it difficult to do homework and assignments under trying circumstances at home. To help them, I worked through the lunch breaks to tutor them.”

She said the onset of Covid-19 in 2020 was also a challenging time because she had to adapt to online teaching but she made it work and completed the syllabus.

Naicker said she was inspired by her mother to work hard, be self-sufficient, independent, bold and fearless against any adversities.

In her retirement, she plans to travel and volunteer at her temple.

“I also want to do yoga and ballroom dancing and help underprivileged pupils.”

Paul, 60, from Nagina, completed 40 years as a teacher.

“After qualifying with a junior secondary education diploma in January 1984, I was placed in a primary school where I taught physical education, maths, English and geography.

"While there, I attained certificates in first aid and folk dancing. I used the latter extensively in physical training lessons at school."

She also has a touch rugby coaching certificate from the Natal Rugby Union.

Paul said 18 years later, she was transferred to Wingen Heights Secondary to teach commerce.

“I arrived at the school on September 27, 2001. This school felt gigantic in comparison to my primary school. There were more than 1 200 pupils with around 50 teachers. The school was known for their amazing matric results. I had to quickly learn to fit in.”

She said working at the school became a teaching and learning experience.

“There has never been a dull moment in the 22 years that I have spent in Wingen Heights. A memorable accomplishment was in 2005. I entered four teams in the JSE Liberty Life Investment Challenge and under my mentorship, one of my teams came third in the 'equity category'. We were invited to a prestigious awards ceremony in Sandton to receive our awards.”

She said her husband Colin, now a retired fireman, was her greatest supporter.

“He assisted with chores at home, so when I retire I plan to spend valuable time with him. By the grace of God we plan to do more travelling.”

Paul said for those who aspired to become teachers, it was a fulfilling and rewarding profession.

“It also requires dedication and hard work. You have to have a passion to nurture young minds, or you will fail as an educator. My 40 years of teaching has been truly amazing.”

Ramcharan, 62, from Woodhurst in Chatsworth, has taught for 41 years

“I majored in English at university and have spent 41 years teaching the language to learners at Wingen Heights Secondary. Many of my learners excelled in English and this was evident in their matric results."

She said while working at grassroot level as a guidance counsellor, she interacted with pupils and their families and provided assistance where necessary. Ramcharan also mentored teachers from the school and the Umlazi district. In addition, she was a district moderator for the Department of Education.

Ramcharan thanked her parents for encouraging her to further her studies to get a solid foundation in education .

“My parents, being progressive thinkers, always believed that educating their children was the only tool that a parent could give their children to be independent and progressive in life. My husband was also in the same profession and understood the demands of the.job. I will now join him in retirement.”

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