Acting principal of Greenwood Independent School retires after 50 years of service.
After spending no fewer than 50 years as a science teacher, Port Elizabeth-born John Wegerhoff will finally bid the chalkboard, colleagues and pupils farewell in April.
Wegerhoff, 72, of Great Brak River, will retire as acting principal from Greenwood Independent School in Plettenberg Bay after joining the school in August last year. But that was just a tiny fraction of his career.
Greenwood’s new principal Luke Perkins arrives to take over the reins in April. Wegerhoff, who was born in Walmer, said his father who was a principal had inspired him to follow a career in education.
“My father was a principal so we were always involved with teaching matters. I was also awarded two bursaries to study science teaching at university,” he said.
Wegerhoff, who matriculated at Grey High School, studied a B.Sc (Hons) degree at Rhodes University.
He then obtained a Bachelors degree in education at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University – then UPE – before completing his M.Ed thesis at the University of Cape Town.
He started teaching in 1964 at Kingswood College in Grahamstown where he taught physics and chemistry up to post-matric level. He then returned to Grey High School in 1969.
Wegerhoff attributed the success of his career to the passion he has for teaching and his love for science.
“Science is all about understanding how the world works, how the language of science is communicated, and the various interactions within the science world and with other disciplines. My latest science homework books attempt to get both pupils and teachers to think ‘out of the box’.
“This is more so in today’s electronic world, where the child probably knows more than you do as a teacher. Of course, teaching itself is a challenge – a teacher is expected to be an expert in so many areas of life.
“I am now involved in bowls, but my longest stint has been with squash, at both playing level [WP Masters] and administratively.”
Wegerhoff speaks fondly when recounting his contribution to educating young minds saying: “The best satisfaction is receiving positive feedback from pupils, colleagues and parents. Hearing of past pupils reaching the top in their chosen field of study.”
Today, Wegerhoff looks back on a professional life well-lived and says: “What I will remember is the quality of the children I taught and coached.
“All were great and produced the goods when it counted. Children always do so when they enjoy the right kind of encouragement and support from teachers and parents. So, to all stakeholders: get involved.”
The prospect of “real” retirement finally beckons later this year when he plans to take a long and well-deserved trip to visit his brothers, and to spend more time with his three children and seven grandchildren.