26 January 2017 – Saint Andrew’s has welcomed a number of new staff members to the school for 2017, including grade 5 teacher Lizel Jurgensen, who had long harboured an ambition to teach at the school.
Lizel, who will be teaching Afrikaans, maths and life skills, most recently worked in Qatar where she was an English teacher and the academic co-ordinator at her school.
Lizel Jurgensen stands outside the Saint Andrew’s school office, at the school that will become her home away from home
Reflecting on her time abroad, she said: “For me, the two years were a growing and learning experience. The country is completely different. It’s hot. People aren’t friendly, so I wouldn’t consider a permanent move there, but I enjoyed it.
Lizel’s roots, however, are in the Free State. She did her high schooling up the road from Saints at Sentraal and followed that with a teaching degree at the University of the Free State. Since then she has moved around a fair deal.
Going through her moves, she said: “I did a quick six months in Lady Grey Arts Academy, followed by two-and-a-half years in Taiwan. I came back to South Africa and did a year at Sand du Plessis Primary School and then six years at Oranje, which I also enjoyed thoroughly.”
Preparation for Saints
She next applied for a position at Saint Andrew’s, but at the time there was no post available. Then an opportunity to teach in Qatar arose through her husband-to-be and within a month’s time her life had changed dramatically and she was headed to the Middle East. There she gained some experience, which helped prepare her for life at Saint Andrew’s.
She explained: “My previous school in Qatar wasn’t an all-boys school, but I had two classes with boys only. I taught English to them…so it was like a pre-introduction to this. I think God knew what he was planning for me.”
Expanding on that, she related how everything had fallen into place for her: The advert for the teaching position [at Saints] was in the newspaper two days before we flew back [from Qatar]. I arrived in Bloemfontein and surprised the family as they didn’t know when we were returning. That first weekend I worked on my CV immediately, fixed it and handed it in. Within the first 10 days, I had an interview and I had a job!”
Memories of Saint Andrew’s
She remembered her first interactions with Saint Andrew’s way back in high school, smiling: “That is so long ago. I have always tended to mingle more with the English crowd, even in school, so I had a few friends from Saint Michael’s and through them I had some friends at Saint Andrew’s.
“In school, I was really focused on sport, but Saints’ hockey wasn’t that strong then, so I didn’t mingle too much on the sports’ side, but I have always had respect for the boys because they just come forth as real gentlemen. You always see them well-behaved. I have always had a fondness for the school.”
The traditions at Saints also fascinated her and now she is eager to share in them. “I come from a very small town outside of Bloemfontein, called Dealesville,” she said. “Very few people have heard of it. I like that small town feeling and I love tradition, so I knew in my heart that Saint Andrew’s would be a perfect match for me.”
Learning and growing
Now, being at Saints is also about a journey of personal growth, she added, saying that one never stops learning and growing, and growth as a teacher benefits not only the teacher but the learners too.
Outside of the classroom, Lizel said she is looking forward to involving herself in hockey coaching: “I love coaching sport and I am excited to be coaching boys. They just have a natural ball sense, which one often has to teach girls.”
Moving jobs or moving to different cities, or, as in Lizel’s case, doing both, can be challenging, but integrating into the Saint Andrew’s environment has been really easy, she shared.
“The people have been extremely friendly. The people that I work with closely in the intermediate phase [have been great]. It is just like I have always been a part of the school. It is such a welcoming feeling. It has been a very easy transition into the school.”