In a small school such as St Michael’s, one teacher can play a very significant role. Mrs Karen Venter, the SMS Physical Sciences educator for the past two years, was one such teacher. It is with heavy hearts that the SMS community says goodbye to her as she begins a new phase in her life: completing her PhD.
Mrs Venter will spend the next few years researching plant pathology, working specifically with wheat, at the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State. She will also be working for a teaching college to develop and present two didactics modules for postgraduates specialising in Natural Sciences. ‘I feel that this is the perfect opportunity to share what I have learned over the past few years and contribute in a meaningful manner to the quality of Natural Sciences education,’ she says. She looks forward to putting energy into things that matter to her.
After Mrs Venter has obtained her PhD she hopes to practise Plant Pathology either as a researcher or as a lecturer, but nothing is set in stone. ‘I have learned that I can plan as much as I want, but in the end, God knows the plans he has for me; I go where He leads me.’
She has many passions in life, the most important of which is to bloom where God plants her. Other passions include science and developing South Africa’s agricultural sector. Mrs Venter feels strongly about the hunger crisis in our country. ‘With my research, I hope to contribute to the quality and quantity of South Africa’s wheat production, and perhaps that could have a positive impact on ensuring we have less people going to bed hungry’.
Mrs Venter says that she will miss working with young people every day, and having off-topic class discussions that meander back to Science work. What she will miss about St Michael’s specifically are the staff and learners. ‘I came to SMS not knowing what to expect, and also not planning on making friends’ she says. ‘The girls ended up crawling very deep into my heart, and a few staff members managed to break through my brick walls (some staff are very persistent, you know) and became family.’ She will also miss having tea during break and the random activities at school such as Grade 11 Prank Week.
In her years as a teacher, Mrs Venter has learnt to always come to class prepared, and to set clear boundaries with learners. She says to always remember that you work with children, that ‘They are smarter than you think, and you are not as good an actor as you think. Have respect, in order for you to be respected’. At St Michael’s she has learnt: ‘Do not allow others to rain on your parade; if they do, take off your shoes and dance in the rain!’
The learners and staff at SMS wish Mrs Venter well in her future endeavours.