Farewell to beloved Muizies teacher

Joan Adams has traded the classroom for a kiln.

Muizenberg High School bids goodbye to one of its longest serving teachers this month.

Joan Adams has taught ceramic design at MHS for 20 years, and her swansong exhibition at the school was held on Tuesday November 6.

“I have seen so many success stories over the years, learners who have gone on to study design and art at higher institutions; and from there to create their own successful businesses, as well as achieving high honours in their creative fields both nationally and internationally,” she said.

Ms Adams started at Muizenberg High in 1999. In her early years at the school she taught two matric classes every alternate year.

Over her career, she has taught about 800 matric designers – without a single failure and her matric classes have all maintained a final average mark of over 70%.

This achievement continued even after design was changed into an academic subject in 2008 and she had to start teaching exam techniques, and the history of design.

Ms Adams was avidly involved in the larger creative life of the school, especially with dance and drama.

School principal Leonie Jacobs said that she was a fantastic support over the years to staff who were involved in school productions, always coming up with ingenious solutions.

“Ms Adams will long be remembered for her approach to her students; for creating opportunities for them and creating a safe haven in her classroom for learners who didn’t always fit into mainstream schooling,” Ms Jacobs said.

Some years ago Ms Adams initiated a unique opportunity for the pupils by getting involved in the Cape Town Carnival. In the early years of the carnival, the pupils made props and choreographed their movements under her guidance, while more recently she focused on organising a progressively more complex and entertaining dance routine for the annual event.

This group has now become one of the stalwarts of the carnival.

“Needless to say (as it is for any great teacher) she has sacrificed much of her own personal time to maintain this and other opportunities for her learners,” Ms Jacobs said. For many years Ms Adams also organised the matric dance, was involved heavily in photographing school events and played a large role in the school magazine and fashion show. “She has always been a fierce and loyal supporter of her students, many of whom remain in contact with her. It is a testament to her that several past pupils made the effort to attend her final matric exhibition at the school,” Ms Jacobs said.

Ms Adams is described as a friendly, cheery member of the teaching staff, always ready to help anyone who needed her expertise.

“She is undaunted when she feels strongly about an issue and is not one to let an injustice slide. Fiercely loyal, she has been a rock over the years in the art and design department. Always quick with solutions and free with help and assistance, she demanded a lot from her students. Our school will be the lesser without her,” Ms Jacobs said.

Ms Adams has left the high school to start a new creative career; making her own ceramics.

“Ms Adams has left an amazing legacy with the school. We are sure that she will miss teaching young people, but we also have a feeling she will find a way to keep sharing her skills and her energy with others in the years to come. Everyone at MHS wishes her all the best in the future,” Ms Jacobs said.