Dr Mariette Wheeler, a Life Sciences and Marine Sciences school teacher at the Protea Heights Academy, Brackenfell, Western Cape, was announced as the best teacher during National Teaching Awards (NTAs).
Wheeler was hailed for her work in transforming the learning experience of pupils through science-related activities, projt-based learning, debating, technology assisted learning and community projects while also ensuring teachers stay engaged during online classes.
A former marine biologist, she changed course in 2015 when she pursued a postgraduate certificate in education from the University of the Western Cape.
“I love nature. I love science and I wanted to bring that love into a classroom. I don’t believe that you can learn these subjects by simply opening a textbook,” she said.
Earlier, MEC Debbie Schäfer congratulated Western Cape winners of National Teaching Awards, including Wheeler.
“I congratulate each of them for this achievement, which is especially welcome after the tough year and a half in education. It is quite something for our province to have 9 of our 14 nominees place in the top three nationally,” said Schafer.
“All teachers, governing bodies and district officials were invited to submit nominations, based on the criteria contained in the Nomination and Information Guide. Our provincial awards ceremony was held on 3 September, and our provincial winners became our nominees for the national awards. They have all made us extremely proud, whether they won their category or not.”
“We will celebrate them, and the contribution of all the committed teachers of the Western Cape, for the entire month of October.”
She said teachers truly were the backbone of society.
“I urge all Western Cape residents to join us in our #ThankATeacher campaign, and recognise the profound impact they continue to have on our lives.”
Wheeler – regular freelancer for Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, was born and bred a proud Pretorian girl.
After completing her BSc, BSc honours and MSc in Zoology at the University of Port Elizabeth (currently Nelson Mandela University), she had the opportunity to explore beyond the horizon on Marion Island in 2004–2005 as a member of M61.
Her PhD was done through the University of Cape Town (with Prof Les Underhill and Dr Marienne de Villiers as supervisors) and University of Pretoria (with Prof Marthán Bester as supervisor).
“I investigated the effect of human disturbance on the seabirds and seals at Marion Island. My team mates of M61 called me the hybrid birder-sealer as I was fortunate to work on both. I have fond memories of working closely along with the other field workers,” she said.
- * Own Correspondent