Valley Pre-Primary principal, Christa Van Den Berg, has called it a day, ending her 43-year teaching career and 29-year stay at the Hout Bay school.
Born in Bloemfontein and raised in Tweespruit, which is a small village in the Eastern Free State, her first teaching post was in 1979, when she taught at Clarissa Pre-Primary in Witbank.
In 1993, she started teaching at Valley Pre-Primary, where she taught the safety programme and also did a programme called “tricky fingers”, which is aimed at strengthening the children’s fine motor skills.
“If you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life. I loved every moment of the 43 years,” she said.
On Thursday March 24, the school hosted a cocktail party to say goodbye to one of Valley Pre-Primary’s longest serving teachers.
Describing some of the highlights of her career, Ms Van den Berg recalled “when past Valley children come back to visit when they have finished school and remember Valley as the best years of their lives and also when they bring their children to Valley… that is so special and rewarding for me.”
She told Sentinel News she spends her spare time gardening and cruising around on her husband’s motorcycle and plans to spend her retirement staying at the farm in Limpopo and visiting all her grandchildren.
And she did not rule out the possibility of returning to the classroom. “Of course when I am back in Hout Bay, I would love to come back and read stories to the kids or substitute teach.”
Ms Van Den Berg said she will especially miss the bursary recipients at the school.
“When they come back after finishing school to visit and say thank you for giving them a wonderful opportunity in life. I will miss that. To see them as young adults, fly and succeed in life. That is such an awesome experience,” she proudly said.
Close friend and fellow teacher at the school, Janice Rudolph, said she suspected Ms Van Den Berg would miss “the valley spirit and family”.
“Unfortunately, the government requires staff to retire at 65, otherwise she would stay at valley for another 29 years,” she said.
Ms Rudolph said it was “impossible” to sum up her colleague and what she has meant to the school over the years.
“Certain words do come to mind: kind, caring, patient, inspirational, gentle and compassionate. To say that she has made an impact on each and everyone of us is an understatement. Christa leaves behind her a legacy that will live on and memories that we will forever cherish,” Ms Rudolph said.