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  • Writer's pictureRuth First Trust

No place I would rather be.

Ten years after entering Jeppe Girls as a Grade 8 Ruthie, Kefiloe Tladi, is back! This time, she is on the other side of the desk, in the staff room. Our first Ruthie to return to the fold, we were delighted to catch up with her and hear about what she’s been up to since we profiled her in our June 2017 newsletter.

After missing the Stellenbosch University deadline to study Politics (which was her Matric dream), Kefiloe was accepted at Wits to study a B.Ed in 2018. In addition to her majors in English and History, she worked on her resilience muscle: overcoming issues like bungled NSFAS paperwork which almost saw her being excluded from second year, losing her mother in 2019, online studying from late March 2020 when Covid hit, and being failed in a course in 2021 just prior to wrapping up her fourth year, due to an administrative oversight. On 22 April 2022, she will receive her BEd with distinction at a live graduation ceremony in the Wits Great Hall. Well done Kefiloe!

Kefiloe realised her passion for teaching in her first exposure to the classroom, in the second semester of her degree. “I discovered a side of me I did not know existed. I love the relationship with the learners and getting to know them.” And so, her second-best option, turned into her passion.

How did she land up back at Jeppe Girls? Kefiloe joined us for the tenth anniversary celebration of the Ruth First Trust in October 2021, as a Ruthie alumna. During the evening, she spoke to our headmistress, Ms Gonçalves about her interest in teaching English and History, and two weeks later, she had a job offer. “It was a dream come true – and felt like there was order in the universe. After all the struggles getting through my degree, here I am back at Jeppe Girls. The staff are professional and have accepted me unconditionally. I think the transition was easier for them than for me. I have two English classes, a Grade 8 and Grade 9, and four History classes – so a full teaching load. And I am responsible for Hlabalela which I love. We are moving from being an a capella choir only to working with Mamela and incorporating the drums: it is a different sound, and I enjoy putting my Choir Management course into practice.”

And her advice for our younger Ruthies? “Work on your interests. Think about what you are good at and play to your strengths. Jeppe Girls is a competitive environment. The accolades are great, but they don’t determine your ability. Do what you enjoy and remain open-minded. I never thought I would be a teacher when I was at school, and now there is no place I would rather be.”

Welcome back, Kefiloe. We are thrilled to have you back on board!

Above: Kefiloe is pictured in the Matric Garden, close to the Carolyn Steyn Performing Arts Centre

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