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Meet the Reader

| November 9, 2010

Ros Howell, Deputy Head, Economics and Management Sciences teacher and 1st team hockey coach at St Mary’s School, Waverley, Johannesburg

Your passion for hockey is well known. Tell us about your involvement in the game.

I played Springbok hockey from 1980 nd captained the side from 1986 to 1994. I was the coach for the Junior World Cup side from 1998 to 2001, and coached the Senior Team from 2001 to 2004, ending at the Athens Olympics.

What’s your personal background in education?

I have a BA (Ed) Physical Education (Honours) degree. History was my other major and I then did Accounting as an extra subject. I have been teaching for 30 years, 25 of them at St Mary’s.

Who were the teachers who inspired you at school?

My high school Headmaster, Mr GAC Pearson, encouraged me to pursue teaching. Choosing to become a teacher was easy, but staying in the profession was the real challenge. Perhaps my real inspiration was Wendy Nathan, who was the Deputy Head at St Mary’s when I started 25 years ago. Her commitment to and passion for the girls, for teaching and the school is legendary and made a lasting impact!

Why did you become a teacher?

I was always crazy about sport and, in particular, I was passionate about hockey. Right from an early age I decided that becoming a Physical Education teacher would be the one way that I could pursue my passion.

What do you teach?

At the moment, I coach hockey and teach Economic and Management Sciences.

What are some o f the changes that have taken place at St Mary’s since you arrived?

I have seen St Mary’s transform into a 21st century school in terms of technology, facilities and its commitment to pursuing a vision without losing its ethos or its unique atmosphere. Good education is about striving for excellence and achieving good results, while also creating opportunities for all to participate and to be included. This principle has not altered in my time at St Mary’s, but the opportunities available to the students in terms of sporting, cultural and academic activities have increased immensely.

What is important about the role of Deputy Head?

The Deputy Head role is multifaceted. My main focus is the girls, so every day is different and offers as many challenges as there are girls in the school. I would say that it is most important for me to be consistent and supportive.

What’s special about your school?

The quality of our girls! The staff and children are passionate about what they do. For someone who loves sport as much as I do, this is the perfect environment. The girls are utterly committed to reaching their potential.

What’s the best thing about your classroom?

I don’t have my own classroom, but my favourite space to teach is the Astroturf, and what is special about it is that no-one disturbs me there!

What advice can you give to other teachers?

Come to work with positive energy. Give every child some of your time and get to know your students. Teaching is about more than imparting knowledge (and, of course, don’t forget to make the most of your holidays).

What would you do if you were Minister of  Education for a day?

I would remove the administrative load from teachers, make sport and cultural activities compulsory and provide incentives so that the best young people go into teaching.

What else would you like to say?

I have been at St Mary’s for 25 years and there hasn’t been a day when I have regretted being a teacher. Each day is different, sometimes challenging but ultimately rewarding.

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Category: Meet the Reader, Summer 2010

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