Natalie McFarlane runs the Tanda Tula Education Foundation, her passion and sincerity combined with her enthusiasm and caring nature make her the perfect person to teach all our learners, regardless of age, and help them to discover their potential and empower themselves. You only have to attend one of her classes to see how admired and loved she is.
1. Why did you become a teacher?
One of the biggest joys of being a teacher, and one of the main reasons why I chose a career in education, is the sense of empowerment I am able to instil in my students – whether they are a young child or an adult. Guiding a person to realise their true potential and watching their confidence grow as a result, is something that I am very passionate about. Knowledge truly is power, and I love being able to share that gift with others.
The Tanda Tula Education Foundation provides me with the wonderful opportunity of being an active part of promoting the empowerment of people, just on a much bigger, and even more meaningful scale.
2. What exactly does your role at Tanda Tula involve?
I manage the Tanda Tula Education Foundation which has two main branches: The Adult Literacy Program and the Tanda Tula Children’s Scholarships. I travel to Tanda Tula Safari Campthree mornings a week to run classes for our adult students, most of whom work in our housekeeping department. Our lessons involve basic literacy, improving spoken English and reading. I also focus on skills development and training for the staff.
The remainder of my time is spent managing the scholarship program from the offices in Hoedspruit. I work closely with Southern Cross Schools, which is the nature based private school our children attend, and their teachers, as well as the children’s parents to make sure that they are receiving the best possible support. It is important to bear in mind that the transition from a rural, government school to an English-medium private school setting can be quite a significant change for these children. As a result, many of them require extra tuition, additional after school support and lots of motivation and encouragement!
3. Why is this experience so different to a “standard” teaching job?
What makes my job so unique and exciting is the fact that every day is so different and diverse. It keeps me on my toes.
I am constantly inspired by our adult students in the Adult Literacy class, and their wonderful determination, sometimes it is the smallest things we take for granted that make the biggest impact on these students. I also get to share in a scholarship child’s pride when they get a good report card, and wave at them from the audience during their school concert – and all of this in a days’ work!
Oh! And I get to witness the most amazing things in the Timbavati on the way to the lodge, such a as large herds of elephants and packs of wild dogs in the road. Who doesn’t want a job like that?
4. What is the best part of what you do?
The best part about what I do at Tanda Tula is the people I have had the opportunity to get to know through my work – from the wonderful adult literacy students, general lodge staff, school teachers and tutors, and of course spending time with some of the incredible guests who come to Tanda Tula.
That, coupled with the fact that working for a company whose philosophy of showing true commitment and loyalty to their staff through upliftment, empowerment and education is paramount, makes me incredibly proud.