Delivered by Ms Heather Oosthuizen
I’m not sure for whom it’s a bigger punishment to do a farewell speech between me and Jason, but I did think it’s quite ironic (and maybe appropriate) that it worked out this way. Luckily, while “speeching” may be hard for me, writing this was so easy: from beginning to end, it was a pleasure to work with Jason: we never had any issues or conflict, and he was always kind, patient and ready with a joke.
Going back to the start, on my arrival at Herschel, I didn’t have too much to do with Jason; mostly what I remember of my first year is that he was in the AP Maths department with the terrifying Kathy Burden. I think if she ever had to call me in that first year, I would also have gone sprinting down the corridor maybe even faster than the girls did for her classes. In my second year, however, I was lucky enough to go along on the Tsitsikamma hike with him, and the year after that I was the new Kathy Burden 😉 not quite! But I soon realised the privilege of landing up in this position and of working with Jason and I’m just going to mention a few of the reasons now.
Firstly, he is such a great teacher & team player: and not just a teacher to his classes, but also me, who came in brand new to teaching AP Maths. He graciously and patiently spent a lot of time teaching me and setting up resources and he was quite the “memo machine”, producing memos not just for additional worksheets, but also for me when I had questions on examples we did with our classes. We had an unspoken understanding that we didn’t want to waste time faffing and our meetings and discussions were the most productive that I’ve ever had since starting teaching. That being said, there was always time for a quick joke and a sense of humour. If you’re in a two-man department, it’s quite a make or break as to who you work with, and Jason, you’re definitely part of the reason why I enjoy teaching AP Maths.
Jason is also such a team player: whenever I was away for Stepout (or anything else), he would make it effortless for me, stepping in to teach my classes, with no fuss made. Another example of this is when we did team marking for AP maths for the exams, he would often, after we discussed how we would split the marking, proceed to mark much more than was his half, without asking or saying a word about it.
And then, of course, he was also a great teacher to his classes: His classes absolutely adored him. I’ve asked them to also contribute something to the speech:
While grappling with complex subject matter, Mr. Stegmann had an extraordinary ability to infuse humour into the lessons. His witty remarks, whether aimed at our mistakes or his own, created an atmosphere of laughter that made the learning process enjoyable. Even when faced with the challenges inherent in the material, he consistently found inventive and entertaining ways to impart knowledge.
What truly set Mr. Stegmann apart was his palpable passion for the subject matter. Every lesson was a vibrant display of his enthusiasm, a contagious energy that made even the most intricate topics captivating. Being taught by someone so deeply in love with their craft was a privilege, and it reflected in the way he inspired and shared that passion with his students.
A memorable highlight in our time with Mr Stegmann was a collective class endeavour during a sports tour absence. In a playful spirit, we concocted the “Jeeys formula,” complete with a comprehensive explanation, as a lighthearted way to jest about the coursework supposedly missed by our peers away on tour.
As Mr. Stegmann embarks on the next chapter of his journey, he leaves behind a legacy of laughter, passion, and an indelible impact on those he taught. He will be sincerely missed, and we extend our heartfelt wishes for success and fulfilment in the years to come.
(That was the beautiful message from his class, they wrote about half my speech for me 😊)
And then, finally, he also stepped in to be the head of the Maths Department this year. In this position, he was also a great leader: he led by example, with compassion and genuine humility: He really cared about each of us.
But maybe what sets him apart, is that these things were so real and that he is so consistent: what you see is what you get, day in and day out. In the end, it’s not about the one or two bigger moments when everyone is watching, but he lives like this daily. As Annie Dillard says, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing”. Many of us have lofty aspirations, but I often think the real challenge in life is doing the mundane things with love and excellence. When we look back and ask “Where did the years go?” I don’t think we need to point to a CV of impressive feats that we glory in. If we can say that it went into the lives of the people that we loved, we’ve done well. Jason, I do think that you can say that your years at Herschel went into the lives of the students and your colleagues that you loved.
Ad Dei Gloriam.