Collegiate educator vying for title of best teacher in Africa
A Port Elizabeth teacher is flying Nelson Mandela Bay’s flag high after being selected as one of only two teachers to represent SA at the African Union in Ethiopia in September, vying for the title of best teacher in Africa and the $10,000 [R167,000] which comes with it.
Lee Raynor presented at the national leg of the National Teaching Awards competition earlier in 2020 and was subsequently chosen by the department of basic education to be one of two teachers to represent SA, with the other teacher hailing from Limpopo.
The Collegiate Girls' High history teacher, water polo and hockey coach won the Excellence in Secondary School Teaching award in the Eastern Cape leg of the rigorous competition in 2019, which honours teachers who go out of their way to improve education in the province.
The former Oakhill School and Knysna High teacher said he was grateful for the opportunity.
“Just to be nominated is such a highlight for me [as] I believe that teachers all over SA, and the world for that matter, are doing our best to educate the next generation.”
The 35-year-old said he hoped his nomination would inspire other teachers to continue to grow and to develop their teaching skills.
“I also hope that it will motivate some more of the next generation to become teachers, as teaching is such a wonderful opportunity to influence others.”
He said his lucky charm had been working alongside some incredible teachers throughout his career, who had inspired, motivated and pushed him to continue to improve his teaching.
“I work very closely with and teach alongside Mrs Heather Shaw at Collegiate and I am so grateful for her flexibility in putting up with my nonsense sometimes and being prepared to try my sometimes crazy ideas if they will benefit the girls of the college.
“I think the best teachers are those who willingly share their ideas, plans and tools with their colleagues.
“I have found that whenever I have done this, I have learnt so much in return and gained some incredible ideas from other teachers.”
The father of three said among his adventurous ideas was making notes that had QR code [for storing URLs] scanners to allow pupils to watch informative videos using a smartphone from the comfort of their own homes.
“Don’t be afraid to try new ideas, new teaching strategies, new technologies in class. Even if they don’t work out, at least you are growing as a teacher and your classroom will not become stale.”
On teaching during the pandemic, Raynor said teachers were far more stressed now than they usually were.
“As our schools reopen, children from all walks of life, all different home environments and so on arrive at school, a school which unfortunately is sometimes the only stable area of the child’s life.
“The children and society at large need us teachers now more than ever. It is a time for teachers to be strong and to be brave, to stand up and be counted. However, we also need to balance that with wisdom. If we follow the precautions and uphold the standards we will get through this together.
“This year is going to be a long and an even more tiring than usual one for all teachers, but each of us can play a small part in helping the recovery effort in this wonderful country we get to call home, even if it is just a generous smile at a child or a gracious word to a colleague feeling overwhelmed,” he said.
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