This is for the teachers, says Gerassi

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When Absa Professional Excellence Award winner Joseph Gerassi arrived at the podium to receive his award, he had a confession to make: he hadn’t prepared a speech because he quite simply didn’t believe that working in education, he had any chance of winning.
by MIRAH LANGER | Sep 12, 2019

“I guess I never thought I would win this award because as a teacher, when you are up against people who are artists, scientists, inventors, people who have started businesses and done incredible things …” Yet, on second thought, he realised that ultimately, “every single person in the world, including these great artists, scientists, writers, or chief executives all had an amazing teacher somewhere along the line. That’s our job as teachers. We are the people who don’t always go out there and make a difference in the world – we see the potential in people to make a difference,” said the executive head of Redhill School in Sandton.

As such, Gerassi said he didn’t see the award as an individual accolade, but one “given to me because of what I represent – the teaching profession”.

“And so, I want to share this with all the teachers out there who get up every day to make a difference. People who get up and go to work in the troubled times at the moment, and try and make every child feel like it’s all worthwhile. They have to make them feel safe, and make them feel that they can continue. They make them feel that there is a world out there waiting for them to discover and conquer.”

Gerassi said that the South African Jewish community should welcome the challenge of “listening to difficult voices and issues”.

“Every community needs to introspect and look deep within itself.”

As long as the community is open to these processes, it will remain a “strong and a powerful force in this country – a community that punches far above its weight”, he asserted.


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