19 December 2016 – After nine years at Saint Andrew’s, junior school teacher Irene Lubbe will be moving to Bainsvlei in 2017 to take up a post as Principal of Tjhabelang Primary School, which caters to children from grade 000 to grade 3.
“It was very sudden,” she revealed about the move on the last day of the fourth term. “I have been thinking about maybe in the next few years making a move to do something different. This was very sudden. It came up, I applied and it happened in a week.
“Now I am going to be a Principal. I think it is going to be a big learning curve for me. It is going to be challenging, but I think it is what I need. I will do my best to make it work.”
Irene’s career began in the United Kingdom, where she taught for three-and-a-half years after finishing her degree in Bloemfontein. There were also some similarities to her future post at Saint Andrew’s as the school she taught at was a small Anglican school.
When she chose to return to South Africa she applied for a position at Saints. “I knew quite a bit about Saints. I attended Oranje and I had some friends who attended Saints. I was very happy when I got a job here,” she said. “It was good to be home and starting work here everyone made me feel welcome.”
Irene helped to hand out Twizzas to celebrate Saints’ birthday on 16 November.
While Irene enjoyed moving to another Anglican school, there was a big change from a co-educational to an all-boys’ school, but she embraced it and enjoyed it.
“I really loved the nine years of teaching boys and the age that I taught, the 10-year-olds. If there is a problem, you can sort it out quickly. They’re energetic. Boys want to be busy doing things most of the time. I’ll miss teaching only boys now when I go back to a co-ed school.”
As with many of the Saints’ teachers, Irene immersed herself in the school and her teaching became about a lot more than the basics in the classroom. She explained: “I do believe that a good education is not only focused on teaching them to read and write. It’s about teaching them to enjoy reading and writing and what they can do with that. It is also about sport and concerts and the playground and your attitude to life.”
Creativity was a clear cornerstone of Irene‘s teaching and involvement in the school. She elaborated: “I have always liked and been interested in art. I am not musical at all and I am not much of a performer myself, but I do enjoy organising and doing concerts with the kids, letting them perform. I enjoyed organising the prize-givings tremendously, working around a theme every year.”
Being part of a close-knit staff, who had her best interests at heart, really helped make working at Saints a pleasure, Irene said: “Most people here have been very supportive of me in my personal life and not only my friends in the staff room, [Headmaster] Mr Thomas, other staff, as well as the boys.
Happy days with the Saints’ junior school teachers
“It’s not only my peers, but everyone has been very interested in what has happened in my life. When something exciting happened and when things were not so good, they were always interested. I really appreciated that. I think I have made some friends for life. Luckily I am not leaving Bloem and I will keep in touch with all of them.”
At Saint Andrew’s, she was given early extra responsibility when she was appointed a Phase Head after only a year in the junior school. She did, she admitted, make some mistakes: “I learned how not to do it by doing it in the wrong way first. I think I learned from my mistakes and it gave me the opportunity to prepare for a bigger post. I didn’t expect to become a Principal now, maybe a Deputy-Head. It prepared me well and Mr Thomas trusted me with some things. I enjoyed doing it and learnt a lot.”
Irene Lubbe shares a comforting moment with a boy on the grade four camp as they view snakes.
Now, with her move to Tjhabelang imminent, there are some mixed feelings. “At first, I was very excited and then when I realised this is really happening I also felt really sad to go,” Irene shared.
“It is very sad to leave this school. I have made friends here and I will contact some of my colleagues for some advice and support at times.”
“I have had a lot of fun”
There were, she concluded, many things about Saint Andrew’s that she would miss: “I am going to miss the boys. I am going to miss my colleagues and I am going to miss the fun. I have had a lot of fun.
“I will miss Chapel and the feeling in the Chapel. I always enjoyed going to it in the mornings and singing. I will miss the beautiful, green school grounds. We don’t have as much grass at my new school,” she added with a laugh.
“I will miss the people mostly.”