Values, morals, manners – these are a few of the things Bridget Sias always included in her classes.
Ms Sias has left Constantia Primary after teaching there for the past 35 years.
She estimates that at 40 children per class, she has made a difference in the lives of 1 500 children.
Over the years she has taught the parents of some of the children she is teaching now. They tell her she looks the same as when they were in her class.
Ms Sias lives in Heathfield with husband, Michael, who recently retired from his job as a driver with the City of Cape Town, and her daughter, Michaela, who is studying to follow in her mother’s footsteps.
Ms Sias said she was leaving at the age of 60 rather than staying on to retirement age because she felt the time was right.
But it has not been easy for her. There had been times, she said, when she would disappear to shed a few tears and then return to her Grade 2B class.
While she talks, her class sit quietly, drawing and reading.
Ms Sias believes it is important to teach the children structure and to live by rules and respect.
She said she gave her pupils 10 minutes of homework four days a week to prepare them for when they were older.
Ms Sias said she had seen many changes since she started teaching. There used to be only farm child-
“We have an extremely good relationship with the farm owners. It’s because of them that we had a secretary. Her salary is now paid by the department (of education) but they still pay for a teacher,” she said.
Ms Sias said the children now come from many backgrounds, wealthy to poor.
Asked what she planned to do now, she said she would be a “housewife”.
“I’ve never done it. I’ve worked from 6.30am to 4pm. Even in the school holidays I have withdrawal symptoms. Now I want to experience what it’s like to have no time restraints, to go shopping,” she smiled.
“God has been gracious with my life. I’m blessed. I’m happy to go,” said Ms Sias.
Her colleagues, family and the board of governors gave her a surprise farewell lunch at a local restaurant.