It’s the love of working with children and deriving satisfaction from seeing them excel that has seen Marinda van Niekerk retire from her full-time position as a teacher and immediately join the Ripple Reading team for an additional five years in the classroom.
If one had to describe Marinda van Niekerk in three words, they would be: passionate, dedicated and driven. For over three decades the classroom has been her home-from-home. The teaching profession has been a calling – an opportunity to introduce learners to the magical world of literacy and numeracy.
Sadly (for us) at the end of this year she will be putting the pencils and crayons away for the last time, however, the good news is that her five grandchildren will become the beneficiaries of her time, attention and wisdom. Engagement plays such an important role in a child’s development and Marinda will ensure that she’s never too busy to answer a question or read books to them. “Presently I have only managed to see them from time-to-time and I’m so looking forward to collecting them from school; taking them to ballet or other extra-mural activities and, most of all seeing them grow up,” she states.
In 1973, Marinda entered her first classroom and over the years she has seen many positive developments amidst the negative. She has also, on occasion, encountered adults who were once learners in her classroom, now at university or married with their own children. “There are so many more opportunities for impoverished children to go to school; and, there are far more books and picture-books available. When we were younger, we learned from our parents and listened to stories – we lived on a farm which was quite far from town. However, reading begins with listening and the children of today are missing these listening skills.
“If you don’t introduce your children to books and take the time to read aloud to them or with them, their imagination will never be stimulated in the way the author intended nor will their vocabulary expand. It’s so easy to use a quick fix and place children in front of a TV to keep them entertained, but the result is that they cannot amuse themselves and their imagination is stunted.”
Although Marinda enjoys teaching older learners (high school), her experience with Foundation Phase has been invaluable. “I wasn’t trained for Junior Phase,” she states, “but I’ve really enjoyed seeing these learners get a love for the language. It has given me much satisfaction over the years when I’ve seen their faces light up as they comprehend what they’ve learned or read.”
Recalling her training, Marinda adds: “One wasn’t automatically admitted to a teachers’ training college in those days. There was an interview process to see whether you were suitable for the profession. You were then only chosen if you met the requirements.” On the job, practical training played an intrinsic role in her studies and Marinda firmly supports the reintroduction of practical experience in the classroom prior to graduation.
Yes, indeed, dedication and passion are the requirements of a teacher who has the welfare of her learners imprinted on her heart! Marinda, we have been Blessed to have you as a staunch member of our Ripple Reading Team.