A Port Elizabeth teacher is flying Nelson Mandela Bay’s flag high after being selected to represent South Africa at the African Union Teacher Awards to be held in Ethiopia.

The Collegiate Girls High School teacher, Lee Raynor won the National Teaching Award earlier this year and was chosen by the Basic Education Department to represent the country.

The awards honour teachers that go out of their way to improve education.

The rising of the sun brings a new day for Lee Raynor and his family, and also means he gets to fulfill his greatest passion, teaching. The outbreak of the coronavirus has made teaching very challenging and forced teachers out of the conventional ways of teaching. They not only have to adjust to new ways of teaching but also deal with the fear of getting infected.

Sitting with him in his vehicle on his way to school, Collegiate High School teacher Lee Raynor tells us about his fears during this time.

“I think I would be a bit dishonest to say I’m not scared, but we  have been lucky we have been given some good PPE  and even though we are getting into contact with hundreds of children per day and other staff members I think for the sake of the country, we need to do what’s best for the country and so, we are trying to out the learners’ needs first and sort of overcome our fears and out those aside.”

On arrival at the school, it’s safety first, and this includes gloves, masks and sanitisers. After the precautionary measures have been taken, there is a long walk to class and preparations for his first group of learners follow.

Once they arrive, he comes alive and the magic begins. His learners think very highly of him.

“He makes teaching such a calm environment and he goes beyond teaching what’s in the textbook. He makes every lesson an experience and with his experience of travelling and being to so many places over the world it just makes it so much easy to kind of paint the picture for us, in a way that the textbook really can’t.”

“I’ve had Mr Reynor for two years now and he’s honestly been the most incredible teacher and we look forward to every class of his and his way of teaching how he just connects with all of his learners. Nobody feels out of place in his class,” his learners say.

Raynor says the key to being a good teacher is to make learning fun and relevant to pupils. The father of three, says among his adventurous ideas, was making notes that had QR code scanners, to allow pupils to watch informative videos using smartphones from the comfort of their own homes.

Raynor says recognition for his hard work us humbling.

“I definitely think teaching is a calling. I think I’m very passionate about it. For me, it’s about coming to work every day and loving what I do interacting with teen agrees they have got so much energy. They have got so much life and spunk, that I’m able to feed off that and it is a privilege to be able to mould and shape the future of our country.”

Raynor also says that his lucky charm has been working alongside some incredible teachers throughout his career, who had inspired to improve his teaching methods.

One of them is a fellow colleague Heather Shaw.

“One of his strengths is that he connects with the girls. He’s really clever he knows his subject. He’s very well learned and if you look at him he walks into a class and immediately, he puts the girls at ease. I often hear little laughs and little jokes because the girls feel comfortable in his presence.”

The competition will be held on the 25th of  September in Ethiopia, but it’s still unclear whether it will be virtual or he will be able to travel to the country. However, Raynor is inspiring fellow teachers to go the extra mile, through his achievements.