GEORGE NEWS - A much-loved teacher at York High School in George, fondly nicknamed "Sandy Mam" at school, is retiring after 45 years.
Sandy Farrell Witteveen has been with York High since 1975, and stepped down on 15 December.
"I've retired because of my fear of being that little grey-haired granny in the staff room and because I know that my work is done at York," she wrote in her goodbye message on the school's Facebook page.
Her message elicited warm responses from past and present learners. "Home is your safe place; York High became my home, my safe place!" she wrote. She recalls her many roles, starting with that of a student, a parent, an SGB member, a staff member and a supporter of York High for as long as she can remember. Witteveen also writes about her love for the school, the ethos and the family spirit.
She relates how current headmaster Francois Moll believed in her and gave her the opportunity to be deputy headmistress in charge of pastoral care. "I had no formal psychology training, no formal counselling skills. Just a seventh sense that the children in my care needed to be heard. I don't live in a black and white world where rules are applied as decreed for each transgression. Every child is different. Every rule needs to be applied differently." Over the years, says Sandy, she might have angered many colleagues by overruling some of their calls, but her goal was to make a positive, permanent impact on at least one child a month.
"I do know that children need a voice to speak for them, I do know that they have a wisdom that doesn't require years of experience, I do know that they need engaged parents, I do know that they need boundaries, I do know that they need affirmation and that they don't have to be what their parents want them to be."
'We bring you the latest George, Garden Route news'