Teacher development

The St Mary’s Old Girls’ Teaching Bursary Programme

Teachers have a profound influence on the youth of our country. It is vital, therefore, not only to attract the right candidates to the profession but to ensure that teachers are well educated and trained.

Supporting a teaching bursary, as the Foundation does together with the Old Girls’ Association, provides the opportunity for a young woman to touch the lives of many girls for decades to come.

A bursary recipient’s story: Kayleigh Nielsen

Teaching was an easy choice for my career because of my passionate interest in children. It is a huge honour to have been awarded this teaching bursary which has allowed me to study full time at the University of Pretoria. It is my dream to work with small children and thus I am doing a BEd. (Foundation Phase). I am currently a second year student and I stay in a residence of the university on the teaching campus (Groenkloof).

I have always liked being involved with my community and fellow students and so I applied and was elected to the house committee in my first year.  I am currently serving my second term on the house committee, in charge of the sports and marketing portfolio.  It has been such a good experience for me and I have learnt so much from it, such as dealing with finances and coping with difficult students' demands and pressures.  I have definitely grown as a person and find myself more patient and able to contribute positively to the successful running of my residency. 

Most importantly, however, is I have had significant insight into the workings of the teaching environment and I cannot wait to start making an impact on young childrens' learning experiences. I am excited for my future as an educator in our country and hope to make a difference in many childrens' lives.

Old Girl PGCE Bursary Recipient 2015: Tinhiko Nkuna:

I have always found fulfillment in helping others. I graduated from Rhodes University in 2008 attaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in Law and French. I actively participated in the university’s undergraduate legal competitions and it was clear that I would pursue a career in law. However, I decided to go into teaching after having spent time as a stay-at-home mom and establishing a non-profit organisation focusing on early childhood development. It was clear to me that I needed to be in the classroom, helping pupils gain essential knowledge and skills but more importantly being a part of their journey in discovery and learning. I completed my Post Graduate Certificate in Education (Senior Phase and Further Education and Training) in 2015 majoring in French and History. I attained 10 distinctions and graduated Cum Laude. I absolutely love being a teacher and particularly teaching St Mary’s girls. I find great fulfillment in interacting with my pupils and playing a role in molding how they view the world around them. The History and e4 classrooms are special and sacred spaces in our country’s context. I view my role of being a teacher as a vehicle in helping create South African citizens who are mindful of our past and eager to play an active role in finding solutions for our future. I will be pursuing my Honours Degree in Education, majoring in Educational Management, next year. This field will allow me to merge my two great loves, education and law.

A bursary recipient’s story: Olivia King

After completing my undergraduate degree in English and French Literature at UCT last year, I decided to do my Honours in English Literature, thereby postponing plans to start my PGCE until 2016.

I was completely enthralled by my experience as an undergraduate student of literature, and I believe it is my passion for education that contributed towards my desire to continue studying and further my qualifications. My year as a postgraduate has been challenging but immensely rewarding, and I am feeling incredibly excited about beginning my studies to become a teacher next year, which will hopefully take place at Wits.

I will train to teach English and French, both of which I am passionate about, at a high school level. The value of education is extremely important to me, and the opportunity to learn is a privilege that is both gratifying and enriching. As a teacher, I hope to instil a similar sentiment in my students and I would like to be the kind of teacher I always looked up to when I was at school: someone who is patient, encouraging, wise, caring and inspirational.


A bursary recipient’s story: Megan Barnes

It was an honour to be awarded the St Mary’s teaching bursary in 2011, which allowed me to pursue my dream of becoming a teacher and contributing to educational change. The four years I spent studying at the University of Pretoria were filled with memories, accomplishments, and personal and academic growth.

I lived in residence for three years, where I was privileged enough to serve on the house committee, and I played water polo and rowed for the university. It was an experience of a lifetime, and I am forever grateful to have been given the opportunity to attend such a prestigious institution.

I received my undergraduate degree in 2014 and am currently enrolled in Remedial Education Honours studies at the University of Pretoria, while working part-time and pursuing my love for rowing and water polo.

My hope for the future is to teach in the foundation phase, where I will be able to help children find meaning and build understanding through quality teaching and learning in an inclusive environment.

The teaching bursary has been the start of my career in teaching and enlightening many children in the years to come. I will draw on my own experiences and ethos of being an Old Girl, along with my knowledge acquired at university, to prepare and holistically develop them for an ever-changing and developing society.