11 January 2017 – Janco Olivier attended Saint Andrew’s from grade 0 to grade 12 and has now returned to the school to teach biology, taking over from Charles Hansen, who retired at the end of 2016 after 30 years at Saints.
Since matriculating in 2012, he has remained in close contact with the school by helping to coach the boys in debating. During that time he attained a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of the Free State and then followed that with a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).
Newly-appointed Saint’s biology teacher Janco Olivier attended Saint Andrew’s from grade 0 to grade 12
Path to teaching
“Honestly, when I went to go and study I studied biochemistry because it was interesting. There was no other reason,” he admitted. “I didn’t see job opportunities or anything like that. Tutoring my brother and his friends after school when I was studying, I really found a passion for education.
“Obviously, with biology being such an interesting subject, with such a wide range of applications, I love being able to take that passion that I have for something that I find so interesting and sharing it with others.”
“I love the school”
During the course of 2016 he heard rumours that a post might become available at Saint Andrew’s for 2017. The prospect of returning to Saints was exciting: “I love the school, having gone here myself, so I saw it as a great opportunity to give back to the school, which has brought me to where I am today.
“It is a great school. I have a good relationship with the school and the staff, so it is a really good opportunity.”
Janco takes over from Charles Hansen, who delivered fantastic results during his three decades at Saints. “Those are big shoes to fill, but I look forward to the challenge, for sure,” Janco commented.
Thoughts on teaching
He then shared some of his thoughts on what teaching is about: “As a teacher, I guess your main job is to teach kids how to think. We had a lecturer who said ‘my job is to teach you how to think and to generate interest in my subject’. I really feel strongly about that, but I feel also as a teacher you are responsible for the learner holistically.
“Especially in high school, you are not teaching them just about biology. You are teaching them values and skills and things they are going to take with them for the rest of their lives, especially at a school like Saints.
“Being a teacher is about developing the kids as individuals to prepare them for whatever they choose to do after school.”
As hinted at previously, debating is also one of Janco’s passions. It is, he opined, a hugely valuable and important asset.
“Debating is one of the most important things any boy can do”
“I think debating is one of the most important things any boy can do in high school because that communication skill has already, in my brief time since finishing school, helped me so much: the ability to communicate yourself, to be able to express what you mean and be understood, to be confident in front of people. It even helps you with writing. It’s really an incredible skill that will help you in any field that you go into after school.”
Debating is something that benefits teachers too, he added, explaining: “As a teacher you are standing in front of a class trying to convince them of something. That’s what you do. Communication is your job. It is an essential skill that is very lacking in the world today.”
Janco excelled in a “dream team” in his matric year of 2012, teaming up with Christiaan Bronkhorst and Kenneth Feldman to dominate against other schools.
“Every year we were in the Free State’s top teams and every year we went on to win the Bloem leagues. We did well and I am proud of what I did in my time here,” Janco said.