The teacher! Nonkanyiso Mgayi (43), a teacher at Percy Mdala High School in Knysna, accommodated top achiever Anelisiwe Langa to allow her to complete her matric at the school of her choice.
KNYSNA NEWS - Many may have been under the impression that the notion that a great teacher can change a person's could change a person's life forever only existed in films like Dead Poets Society. and Mona Lisa Smile, but here in Knysna teacher Nonkanyiso Mgayi (43) proved this wrong.
She is the one who lit the match that fuelled Anelisiwe Langa’s fire. For Mgayi it is simple: "I have my own version of a perfect world.” she says. “I believe the act of changing the world does not lie in extravagant initiatives, but in the time and efforts dedicated to teach each child that crosses my path."
She certainly changed Langa’s world. When Langa was in Grade 10, she asked Mgayi how to earn a distinction.
“This friendly child with her sunny face wanted to know how to get one, because another teacher had asked her to work toward one. At that moment I was smiling in my heart. I was so proud because I never thought I would have such a good learner to teach. I said to her: 'Anelisiwe, you can get a distinction in every subject if you want to, so please try'.”
When Mgayi heard that Langa (then Grade 10) had to leave Percy Mdala High School due to financial and mainly transport problems, it only took her a split second to make a decision. “I was not happy. I have four children of my own but I just knew I had to find a way to accommodate this child. I could not afford to help pay for her transport from Plettenberg Bay so I did the next best thing, Mgayi laughs.
Mgayi studied at the University of the Western Cape and started teaching at Percy Mdala High School in 2008. She met Langa when she was a Grade 8 learner. "I’m so proud," she says. “Now all the learners at Percy Mdala know that it is possible. It does not matter how hard it feels or how steep the hill is, if you want to walk the walk you can climb a mountain."
She says Langa is one of those learners who puts a smile on the face of any teacher who has the "privilege to teach her". She says that many days and nights were hard. "She suffered without her family but never stopped working. I only had to keep on reminding her of what she already knew. She could do it!"
Langa managed a distinction in each one of her seven subjects. “Her surprise was surprising, it was certainly no surprise to me," Mgayi smiles. "I knew she wanted it and always knew that if you want something badly enough, nothing is impossible!"
There is no difference between Model C schools and disadvantaged schools. The learners from our school are very bright. It is not about the school you attend, it is about who you are.” Her advice to other learners is to start working from day one. “Don’t wait for dates. Every day is your date.” She says her message to her learners is to aim high. “You might fall back once in a while, but you will always know what you are reaching for.”
The news of Langa’s achievements attracted more ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ on Knysna-Plett Herald’s Facebook page than any other entry on any of Group Editors newspapers' Facebook pages. Hundreds of locals, including Knysna’s mayor, councillors, business owners and other learners congratulated her.
Geneva Botes wrote: "Well done, lady! I don’t personally know you, but I’m so proud of you! May the Good Lord protect you and may all your dreams come true."
Justice Jumok Mokoena wrote: "Hope she sustains her attitude … wonderful daughter, her folks are extremely, exhilaratingly proud."
Khanyiswa Baily wrote: "That’s my school! So proud of her and all the great teachers that supported her."
Abraham Koko wrote: "I would like to congratulate the teachers at Percy Mdala. You have brought out the best in this girl."
Gayle Newby wrote: "Fantastic! You have a good start into the big wide world. Make the most of it!"
Johanthan Bezuidenhout wrote: "You’re a heroine that must be saluted!"
Liu Yu wrote: “You have the world at your feet. Very happy for you and Percy Mdala, Knysna!"
Tercia Nel wrote: “What an asset you are to your parents and South Africa! May your future be great."
From Canada, Engela de Klerk wrote: "… and a beautiful girl too! Keep up the good work!"
ARTICLE: BONISWA ZWAYENA
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