Since her childhood, growing up as an orphan at a convent in Zambia, Florence Mhango has always known that her calling is to teach.
After more than 25 years of teaching she considers retirement but emphasises that children will remain a part of her life for as long as possible.
Back in the day, Florence initially thought that she would teach the Word of God and studied Christian education but because of the era that she grew up in, women were not allowed to be ordained to preach. “When my Christian education teacher passed away, I was transferred to the then Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) to study teaching via correspondence,” she explained.
It was around that time that she met Betty Kennedy, the founding mother of Myngenoegen English Private School (MEPS) and she started working with her by assisting with administration for what was then a preschool which had boarding facilities in Westenburg. “I was doing admin during the day and spent evenings interacting with children, reading to them and teaching them the Word of God. The preschool quickly grew in numbers and a need for a bigger property soon became a reality when Betty bought the land on which MEPS is currently situated,” she said.
Initially, the plan was to continue with it being a preschool but parents negotiated with Betty to start a school covering all grades.
Florence also began her diploma in teaching but started teaching the learners in Gr 1 before she obtained the qualification. “It was a scary but wonderful experience and by the Grace of God the children who attended my class obtained distinctions throughout their school career. I attribute that to my fellow Gr 1 teachers who selflessly helped me and kept their doors open whenever I had questions or felt overwhelmed,” she said.
Florence added that there is nothing more fulfilling than seeing the children she taught come back to the school to share their testimonies because it is a clear indication that the vision that MEPS was founded on is being fulfilled. She spends her free time outdoors, admiring nature and doing physical activities. “I jog and I also do aerobics with the learners at school. This is to not keep myself busy but for the learners as well,” she said.
Although she is only 56 years old, ill-health has her considering retirement so that she can get much-needed rest. She added that her retirement will not mean she is completely closing the door to working with children, she will continue to do so but at a slower and calmer pace..
Story: Miranda Chauke