The ceremony was officially opened by Morgensen Primary School principal Envor Petersen, who paid tribute to Ms. Sharon Raphael.
“You have run this race, always keeping your eye on the prize. You are a great example to us and our learners because you keep them running too,” he said.
“Happy birthday, Ms. Raphael. May God bless you and your family for your motivation and dedication to our school.”
Raphael has taught every subject in every grade over the years and is currently the head of the foundation phase.
She says her morning started with wishes from her family and then her school family.
Raphael was emotional as kids from the school’s marching band escorted her to the assembly, where staff and children sang Happy Birthday to her.
One group of about 12 learners performed a beautiful gospel song for her.
Some of the learners read poems they had written especially for their beloved teacher.
“I was very surprised when I got to the school yesterday (Thursday) morning and got all this love from the staff. We are a family and all this is just so overwhelming,” Raphael said.
The amazing teacher says she does not feel like she is, 60, and has been teaching for 40 years.
“Moving around in the grades and teaching different subjects has taught me so much about life. It is such an important task, teaching children, and watching them flourish at high school and through life is my greatest gift,” she says with a smile.
Asked if she plans to retire any time soon, she says no.
“I’m not sickly and still have the strength of an ox. I have not yet considered retirement. I still have so much to give the children,” she says.
Raphael has no children, but her niece and her baby live with her.
Her mother still lives in Hanover Park, where she grew up.