Long-serving Livingstone High School teacher, Lynette Arendse bid farewell to the school at the end of April after spending 35 years there.
Ms Arendse, 62, from Fairways, started at Livingstone in 1986 and spent her entire teaching career there. “It was an exhilarating experience as I served under eight principals during my tenure at the school,” she says.
Ms Arendse’s passion for teaching stems from her love for literature and learning when she was in Standard 6 (Grade 8) and through her father who had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
“Since I was passionate about literature, teaching was a way in which I could teach literature and be enriched by the wonderful insights of my talented students.”
Over the years, Ms Arendse took on various roles at the school, from being an event coordinator, to Head of English Department, and acting deputy principal in 2018 after the passing of principal Theo Bruinders.
Ms Arendse worked in a time when the country was going through political changes and she got to work with legendary Livingstone educators such as Dr Stella Petersen who taught there for 38 years and former principal Richard Dudley who was there from the mid-1950s until 1984.
They led the school during turbulent times in our country. “I was privileged to teach with and learn from intellectual giants, who role-modelled the importance of teaching and learning in a socio-political, historical and economic context,” she says.
Ms Arendse said she had a responsibility to educate their pupils beyond the matric examination and beyond the borders of South Africa.
“Indeed many of our students have achieved national and global success in diverse fields,” she says.
Ms Arendse says teachers should be seen as a solution to all societal problems. “But we need a collaborative and participative effort from parents, students and the broader community for effective and holistic education,” she says.
Though in her final full year of teaching, Ms Arendse had to make the big adjustment of teaching during the pandemic. “The Covid-19 pandemic impacted most heavily those schools and communities that were not well resourced with digital technology.”
Ms Arendse says they had to look at WhatsApp-based teaching and having interactive Zoom video conferencing. “Digital communication between teachers and students increased and students were encouraged to take greater responsibility for their own learning and parents were encouraged to be actively involved in their children’s education.”
Covid-19 did not only impact teaching, it also impacted emotionally at school. “It impacted through the death of a spouse of one of our educators,” she says.
Asha Lalla, who is now the Head of English at Livingstone High School, says Ms Arendse as an English teacher gave herself wholeheartedly to her pupils.
“She brought drama and passion to her classroom, she championed reading and critical thinking.”
Ms Lalla says she will miss working with Ms Arendse.
“I wish her well, I know that her retirement heralds a new beginning and a new adventure.”
Former deputy principal of Livingstone High, Ashley van der Horn who retired last December after 33 years at the school, says they established themselves as good friends over the years.
“She was passionate about her English subject, she ensured as head of English that the other English teachers would work hard with the new Grade 8s so that when they come to Grade 12, they excelled in English.”
Mr Van der Horn says she was devoted to the school and always wanted the school to be on the right track.
“ I wish to express my gratitude to my former colleagues for the lessons they have taught me, for their fellowship and for their dedication to their students and education,” says Ms Arendse.
Ms Arendse says that even though there have been technological changes in education as well as changes in the curriculum, the crucial and central agency of the teacher remains unchanged.
For her retirement she would like to explore South Africa with her family as well as becoming involved in community endeavours.