Future teacher, Avela Tshatshu, is opening doors – for the young learners in her care and for her own career aspirations. Becoming a JumpStart tutor was a turning point that propelled her career in a direction she never previously imagined.
The use of the JumpTrak app to mark and monitor the children in her classes awoke Avela’s curiosity. She wanted to learn more about apps, how they work and how they are developed and designed. She is fascinated by the JumpStart robotics and coding programmes that are being taught at intermediate phase in some schools. A fire has been lit inside Avela and her thirst for knowledge burns brightly.
This talented youth tutor is passionate about teaching maths, consistent in her approach and brings compassion to the classes she teaches. Based at Isaac Mhlambi Primary School in Sasolburg, her primary focus is on the Grade 3 learners, but she works with earlier grades too.
Sasolburg team leader, Mamiki Kok, reflects on Avela’s maturity in balancing her private ambitions and personal challenges. According to Mamiki, she brings dedication to her work, discipline and consistency to her own education. She recently undertook to support an orphaned nephew who was struggling to come to terms with the loss of his parents and continue his schooling in rural Eastern Cape where Avela’s grandmother was taking care of the boy. She hopes to offer him a better chance at life by taking him under her wing.
Foundation phase teacher, Mrs Caroline Manqini, praised Avela’s practical approach to helping the learners who struggle. “Avela has a lovely manner when working one-to-one with the children who have fallen behind. For example, when a child is battling to learn division, Avela will sit with the child and use brightly coloured bottle tops to talk about ‘sharing’,” she said. “Avela brings a special energy and a tireless focus to every class. She teaches each child by holding their hands, showing them how to count on their fingers. She encourages them to hold and touch the concrete aids that help the children attain an embodied sense of learning.”
What difference did the JumpStart internship make to your life?
“Jumpstart made a huge impact on my life!” recalls Avela. “It gave me a chance to experience a side of myself that I never would have dreamed of. I used to say that I would never become a teacher. Whenever I thought about careers, teaching was never on the list. All of that changed when I joined the JumpStart gang! I discovered I was passionate about educating the learners.”
How did things change with the Covid Pandemic?
“The pandemic was a huge challenge. Everything turned upside down overnight, and things were no longer the same. Because of the limitations, I could no longer have a chance to see all my learners at once. We see smaller groups of learners separately. We have limited teaching time and teachers are under immense pressure. I don’t have sufficient time with each learner in the classroom,” she says.
Avela reflects on a learning experience
The exercise of looking back at our first day of school was a highlight of our recent JumpStart tutor training day. As a group, we revisited that moment of walking into our Grade One classroom again, recalling all the feelings and fears, excitement and the nervousness. We remembered the teachers we interacted with, and wondered how the other learners in class with us managed. That session helped me to empathise with the learners as I put myself back in their shoes. The thing I loved most about the tutor training was getting to sit and listen to people who have massive amounts of passion and wisdom! I really learnt a lot from everyone there.
Where to now?
Avela is currently completing her Grade R teaching diploma through Lyceum but her involvement in the JumpStart programme, and her experience using the NumberSense platform, sparked an interest in Informational Technology. Avela has set her sights on completing further studies in the field to better equip her to teach in the digital age.
Telling about the tutor experience
“I love being surrounded by those young innocent souls,” she said. “Just being in their presence and having the opportunity to tutor them is fulfilling. I notice the difference I’m making in their lives and am filled with uncontainable joy. I’m so grateful to JumpStart for the opportunity. I have grown leaps and bounds as an individual and as part of the team. It has been an eye-opening opportunity and I work every day to make sure that I grab it with both hands.”
Be part of our growth
Many future teachers, like Avela, who are eager to make an impact on the next generation. Students like her need your support. Please donate here to help young men and women reach their goals of becoming the educators of the future.
Update – 9 June 2021
Avela is the new team lead at Sasolburg. She was promoted to this post at the beginning of June. She took over from Mamiki Kok, who recently secured a teaching position in the wake of her graduation. Hearty congratulations, Avela and Mamiki!