After twenty dedicated years with the Edupeg project, Liz Swersky, the Project Director will be leaving the Edupeg Project at the end of 2014. Liz is the amazing inspiration behind the Edupeg materials and she has worked with dedication and passion to leave an indelible footprint on education in our country. Through Liz’s work, children who are sorely in need of a better education have had a taste of the joy of learning and glimpsed a better future for themselves. Her legacy is awesome and she will be greatly missed by us.
During our recent teambuilding week, Edupeg trainers from across the country, said farewell to Liz, the founder, the leader and the heart of the Edupeg project, at a beautiful high tea. Publically and individually each one thanked and paid tribute to Liz. It was a very moving occasion. What made it so extraordinary was the depth of the feelings expressed there, and the willingness and eagerness, of each of the people working in this organization to express them. There was the most amazing unity, and love coming from people, widely diverse in age, in background, in ethnic group, in life circumstances. What united us all was the deep respect, admiration, and personal connection that we all feel for Liz, who has created this organization and given us all a place in it, where we can use all the training, and all the talents that we have, to do vital, important, much needed, and meaningful work. She has helped us to develop the tools that we need, to grow constantly, to keep a good heart and overcome the challenges, to persevere, and to reflect constantly on what we are doing, to make our practice the best that it can possibly be.
In working with the facilitators in the field, Liz has always found time to keep in the closest possible contact with us, and to gain the greatest possible knowledge of the environments in which we work, and the challenges which we face. This has involved a great deal of sometimes arduous travel for her, and a great deal of time spent away from home. But, out in the field, she has observed and participated in all aspects of the work from talking to, and advising principals, working with the teachers and children in the classrooms, helping to address the challenges seen there, observing, demonstrating, training and encouraging the Edupeg facilitators, as well as doing all sorts of other tasks. Always quick to see a need and quick to find a solution, I have seen her moving classroom furniture, and sorting out storerooms, sometimes with a bucket and brush, and bringing order and system and effectiveness in so many places. With her first-hand knowledge of the circumstances out there, she has been able to advise and mentor, inspire, encourage and affirm us all. She has also kept abreast of thinking and developments in education in South Africa and found ways to share this, and adapt and implement new strategies and ideas. But above and beyond this, we have all been in receipt of her unstinting kindness, consideration, support, organizational skills, and attention to detail, given warmly, and sometimes at considerable cost to herself. And all this has been done alongside the countless other demands of running, and finding the funds, for this growing and flourishing organization.
There is so much that one could say about Liz. We could speak of her elegance and style, her eloquence, her integrity and accountability, her strength in sometimes very difficult times, her feistiness, her creativity, her sense of fun and her enjoyment of life, her incredibly hard work and long hours, amongst other things, but I would like to focus on one particular aspect - and that is Liz the teacher.
All of us who have been privileged to watch Liz at work in the classroom have seen what a superb teacher she is – how she engages the children and has them listening and eating out of her hand, how she empowers them to try and to do and to speak and to learn, how she gets to the kernel of the lesson and has the learners gain not only knowledge but understanding and retention, and confidence and self-esteem – and how they love the learning. Liz has taken this great talent of hers and found ways, over twenty years, to cascade it down - through developing facilitators, who in turn develop teachers, who then, in turn, give so much more to the thousands of learners who have been touched by this program. These are the children who are so sorely in need of a better education and a better chance in life – through her work they have had a taste of the joy of learning and glimpsed a better future for themselves, and for our whole country. Her legacy is awesome! And we salute her for it.
We hope that she will now take some time for rest and relaxation, at least for a while, and in that time reflect on, and take pleasure in, and be proud of all that she has done.