My Interview with Abigail Meredith
By Michelle, age 17, South Africa
Abigail Meredith, 28, is an English teacher at Amanzimtoti* High School in Durban, South Africa. We teenagers love to believe that our teachers at school are far from having a life of any interest, so I decided to interview Meredith - who is recently engaged - to see what they're really about.
* Amanzimtoti is a coastal town just south of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Meredith started studying with Psychology in mind, resulting in her pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree at UNISA (University of South Africa), with majors in Psychology and English. She then continued with an Honours degree in Psychology. Due to exam date mess-ups, Meredith had to wait a year to continue with her Masters degree, so she decided to turn to her second dream - a career in teaching. "I studied at Edgewood (UKZN - University of Kwa-Zulu Natal) for a year. I completed my Post Graduate Certificate in Education, with my teaching subjects being English, Counseling, Life Orientation and Technology."
If she were not teaching, then a career in Psychology would have followed, or public relations, in which she would have been able to mix her English abilities with her Psychology and still be able to work with people.
A teacher's job may look like nine-to-five work, but it is anything but - a lot of effort goes into preparing for each lesson of the day. Meredith starts her day at six in the morning in order to arrive at school at seven. "I get there early as a rule ... I like being early for everything!" she adds.
There is a staff briefing in the morning, followed by registration. Meredith has a grade twelve registration class. The day starts off with three lessons. "[This is] where I get to be a dragon lady! Not that I enjoy being so; I just have to be that way so that my learners learn something!"
Break then follows. "Break is spent with my colleagues, just relaxing, and sometimes blowing off steam after a particularly unpleasant or hyperactive class." There are three lessons afterwards, another break, two lessons, and afternoon registration to wrap up the day.
After school, Meredith normally goes to the gym, which is very important seeing as she is a competitive ballroom dancer. "That takes up a large amount of my time, with having dance lessons and practice. I need the gym to keep fit for the dancing."
At home she gets straight to marking or preparing for the next day's lessons, then has supper, followed by her own leisure time, which is probably minimal during the examination phases, and sometimes takes a phone call from her fiancé.
Meredith says that what she most loves about her job probably would be the kids. "I love the kids, even the naughty ones ... most of the time!" The holidays are an added bonus, but "I hate having to bring work home. That is one thing a lot of people don't understand about teachers - we might be able to leave at two-thirty, but we do bring work home, which everyone else does not have to do!" She adds, "Many people think that we have a half-day job and get to mess around with kids during the half day that we do work! This is not true. I work very hard, and most teachers' families will attest to the fact that holidays are not just spent chilling!"
Being a teacher means that one is surrounded by many different kinds of people, leading to some very funny situations. Meredith says an incident at home during her marking of Matric examinations is one she'll not forget. Her puppy had gotten a hold of her top student's manuscript and torn it to pieces. Luckily she had captured the mark. "The funny thing was when I had to tell this young man that 'My dog has eaten your homework!' The student laughed at me, luckily! And he grinned every time he saw me after that. I now have to accept that particular excuse, because I know it does happen!"
Meredith says that, even though it may sound cliché, her mom is her role model, one of the most inspirational women she has ever met. "She is amazing, how she keeps our house clean and tidy, yet allows us to live in it, without it being too 'show-housy'. She has so much love to give, not just [to] her family, but others as well. She can go up to a total stranger and know his life story by the time she walks away!"
Being an English teacher, it is quite evident that she has a love for books. She has just finished reading the Twilight series, by Stephenie Meyer, for the third time. Harry Potter, by J.K Rowling, comes a close second to Team Edward and Team Jacob! "I am quite an eclectic reader!" she notes, as she lists her interest in the writings of James Patterson, and Martina Cole too.
Meredith's parting message to those with aspirations in teaching: "Don't! ... No, I am kidding." But Meredith advises students to be certain it is their correct choice of profession. "If it's for the holidays and short working days, you are not going to be satisfied! If it's for the money, teach in a private school! But if it is to help future generations to be something better than they would have been without you ... then go for it!"