PORT Elizabeth's Nomonde Ntsundwana, one of the top 12 finalists in this year's The Herald GM Citizen of the Year award, is also in the running to become South Africa's most influential teacher.
Ntsundwana is a finalist in Stars in Education, a competition for teachers who go the extra mile on an extracurricular basis. She is one of 11 finalists to be selected from across the country.
The hard-working Seyise Primary School teacher has received praise and accolades for her grassroots-level efforts in the greening of schools across Nelson Mandela Bay.
Ntsundwana said she was thrilled and hoped her achievements would inspire and motivate other teachers in the metro. "I am so over the moon. I hope this will push them and motivate them to see that someone else is being recognised who is on their same level.
"They know me and have worked with me and if I can do this, then so can they," she said. Three of her pupils were also selected to take part in the annual Woolworths Trust EduPlant competition for school gardens, she said.
The Stars in Education competition was recognised by the Education Department and by the South African Council for Educators.
"I think I was selected because I am not just doing work at my own school but at different schools and for different organisations."
Stars in Education is the brainchild of multi-media solutions provider Argo, and aims to recognise and acknowledge teachers for the invaluable role they play within their communities in projects outside the classroom.
Organisers said Ntsundwana's work was about "creating permaculture gardens for community members by establishing gardening communities who plant in schoolyards, household yards, churches and clinics with the aim of reproducing sustainable methods of producing food".
Also recognised elsewhere in the province were principal and Grade R teacher Funeka Jija and early childhood development practitioner Xolisa Dayimani, both of whom are based at the Jujurha Pre-School in the Xhora Mouth administrative area.
The winners will be announced later this month in celebration of World Teachers Day.