my retirement - reflections

BY Dr R. Boucher

A celebration of old memories and new beginnings
By Dr R. Boucher
Have I really been at Riebeek for 29 years?  I remember coming here at the beginning of the second term of 1988.  I was shown around by our own Mr Hoare and I must admit, I felt a bit overwhelmed. But it only last until that first break. I sat there and I said to my new colleagues next to me, “I think this is how it feels to be in heaven!” The girls were respectful, helpful and very cooperative.
Over the years fashion for the girls has had beige dresses, maroon skirts short, long and short again. Hair has come, gone, been big, bleached, braided, straightened, extended and dreadlocked. Despite the altering of outward appearance, there has always been a constant. That was and still is the love and respect I received from the girls.
I have been privileged to have had in my classroom many, many fine young ladies. From them I learned true teaching is a special partnership. It only really works when the teacher reaches beyond the outer image, looks into the heart, understands and respects what she sees. The learner’s role is to allow herself to be seen, not just for who she is, or has been, but also for who she could be.
I look back with gratitude. I entered a profession dedicated to assisting young people achieve their potential, to revealing or finding their best selves. As I leave it, I am taking many of you with me. You will live on in my memories. I'll always remember the things we achieved together: the Afrikaans Eerste Taal tours, the Cross Country practices, the Netball tournaments, the Going Green afternoons and yes, the Friday afternoon detention classes!
I've been asked what I'm going to do now. I'm going to do a lot of things and very few of them conform to the notion of retirement as a time of waiting for the inevitable end.
I am going to travel to places I've always wanted to go to and haven't been. I am going to read books that have been waiting on my 'must read' list for years. I will garden, learn new skills, write a few more books, enjoy being around friends and family ... In short, I plan to LIVE.
I want to pay tribute to Mrs Natalie Stear as the first principal under which I started my teaching career at Riebeek. I salute her for being a visionary, instructional, influential, and learning leader and my role-model. Mrs Stear knew how to select changes that were needed but also to shelter her staff from changes that were not aligned with the school's focus. She also knew how much teachers could absorb and how to scaffold her approach and provide the resources needed to implement the plans and vision she had for the school. She walked the fine line to push teachers to the cliff without pushing them off the cliff.
I pay tribute to my colleagues for support, friendship and exemplars of what it is to serve faithfully and with humility. I will always remember our shared laughter, our joys as well as our struggles. Thank you for words of encouragement,sharing of resources, and time but mostly for your sincerity and trust.
And lastly, I leave you with this thought. You cannot be all things to all people. Be unique. There is only ever one of each of us.  We are neither better nor less than anybody else but rather the best or least of ourselves. Therefore, be different. Give to others what you want yourself. And do what you were made to do.
Thank you for being my traveling companions along a large and important part of my way. I am forever grateful for your stimulating company and the enormous collection of shared experiences indelibly printed in my mind.
I have retired but not expired. Be sure to visit me whenever you feel like having some coffee and homemade bread!

 July 29, 2017
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