Feziwe Grace Lugulwana from Holy Cross High School, testing her Grade 2 class with some multiplication questions. Ms Lugulwana made the shortlist for the National Teachers Awards 2016.

“I am looking for a smart baby”, echoes through the hallyway of the Holy Cross Roman Catholic Primary School in District Six, as Grade 2 teacher Feziwe Grace Lugulwana challenges her pupils with mathematics equations.

It’s evident that teaching is her passion, as she jumps around her classroom, encouraging her pupils to always strive to do their best - and it has not gone unnoticed.

Ms Lugulwana made the shortlist of the National Teaching Awards, after being nominated by her colleagues.

“It is indeed an honour to have nominated such a wonderful teacher. Her approach to life is a very disciplined one. She is up early in the morning to be at school by 6.30am in order to set about organising her classroom in preparation for her pupils,” said proud principal Donovan Williams.

“We felt that she fitted the criteria superbly and is, for that reason, our number one candidate.”

The National Teaching Awards Scheme was conceptualised and launched in 2000 as a way for the Department of Basic Education to acknowledge and encourage dedicated and caring teachers in their efforts to develop each pupil. Some of the categories include Excellence in Primary School Leadership, in Mathematics Teaching (GET), in Special Needs and Inclusive Teaching, and a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The nomination might have come as a surprise to Ms Lugulwana, but it’s not fame she seeks, as all that matters to this passionate teacher from Khayelitsha is that her pupils receive a proper education and enjoy themselves while doing so.

“I am extremely happy about the nomination. I still can’t even believe it, but I don’t get ahead of myself and I don’t allow that to stop me from doing what I need to do. Being nominated only makes me want to work even harder, because I love my babies, my smart babies,” she said, beaming.

Ms Lugulwana has been teaching for the past 23 years she started at Holy Cross in 2007. What made her the stand-out candidate at the school was that she allowed herself the time to develop into what the school des-cribed as a “well-rounded, versatile and motivated individual, with humility and God-serving values at the forefront of her journey through life”.

Her teaching style has also captured the attention of many, summed up as exciting, often in the form of rhythm, which has the ability to capture the attention of the pupils.

“I like that my classroom must look alive. My babies must be enjoying themselves behind the desk - we are learning, but at the same time, we are having fun. They catch on very quickly if you make things exciting for them and it makes them want to learn even more,” Ms Lugulwana.

This very teaching style has prompted the school principal to encourage their National Teaching Awards candidate to conduct internal workshops as part of the school’s staff development programme, to inspire her collegues and promote a different approach to teaching among them.

“Her passion, her jovial nature and her enthusiasm make her the perfect facilitator, capturing the attention of all present,” Mr Williams said.

When Ms Lugulwana is not in front of a classroom, she is out making a difference in her community. Her work among HIV/Aids patients is particularly well-known, especially as she is now the school’s HIV/Aids co-ordinator. In the past, she also served the school as the Soul Buddyz co-ordinator.

Among others, Ms Lugulwana has also instituted a candle lighting day, she delivers donations to the underprivileged and Aids patients, she facilitates prayer group meetings and care for the elderly and ill and works to identify and stop bullying among school pupils and in her community.

And if that wasn’t evidence enough of the teacher’s dedication, she has also never been absent from work during the past 10 years.

”I have always seen my role as creating brighter futures for all children that I have come across. Patience and care have been the core of all my actions and my love for children has continued to grow from strength to strength by the grace of God Almighty,” Ms Lugulwana said.

“Wherever I can help, I am more than willing and ready to do so to the best of my ability. The time I spent at the school is a blessing,” she proudly said.

Mr Williams said: “Ms Lugulwana portrays all the wonderful traits of an amazing educator.”