Suncrest High School, Vanderbijl Park, Gauteng Province
Mgwigwi’s childhood dream career was to be a medical doctor, but she ditched the idea when she was in grade 12 and decided to pursue teaching. She says this was a direct inspiration from her teacher, who, she said, dedicated her time to enable her to perform to the best of her abilities. “I am from a very poor family, so the love and support that I got from my teachers, particularly Mrs Mabula, was just unbelievable. She supported and wanted the best for me and pushed me to the limit. Given this, I thought, ‘you know what, I can do this for a living: changing young people’s lives’. And that fulfils me.”
During her seven-year teaching stint, Mgwigwi taught grades 8 and 9 mathematics; currently she teaches mathematical literacy to grades 10 and 12. She admits that things were a bit difficult in the first years of teaching because of her young age. However, she says, in her second year of teaching she started to find her footing and also gained confidence. This makes it easy for her to connect with her learners, who also began to appreciate that she was there to assist. Mgwigwi reckons that this had a huge, positive impact, and was the main factor behind her winning the ‘exceptional management skills’ award at her school.
Mgwigwi often provides a shoulder to cry on to colleagues who are demoralised, advising them to look at the positive side of teaching. She also shares with them her effective teaching strategies that saw her produce positive grade 12 results. She strongly believes her recent win of the NTA’s ‘Excellence in Secondary School Teaching’ category will motivate them even further.
Says Mgwigwi: “We always invite motivational speakers to inspire the learners, because it is our duty to do so. And we often say we, as teachers, do not need any motivation, but for me winning the NTA should serve as the best inspiration to my colleagues. I feel like I am re-born, it is whole new me. Words cannot describe how I feel about this.”