After 36 years of facing eager-to-learn little faces, Thandiwe Kulu has finally put the chalk down.
The teachers and pupils of Kumalo Primary School in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni, on Friday bid farewell to her as she went into early retirement.
Kulu, 58, has seen it all. Her career began in the 1970s when education was divided into separate departments based on race and ethnic groups.
Kulu said: "My years as a teacher were a great pleasure. It feels good retiring today, knowing that I had a hand in building the future of this country."
Kulu said she had encountered a few cases of drug abuse and teenage pregnancies over the years, and believed that motivation was the key to sorting out such problems.
"We have working parents so children live alone at home and that's when they fall under bad influences," she said.
Wilson Magubane, the school principal, described Kulu as a hard worker and a role model to young teachers.
"I am very proud of her. She gave extra lessons and never complained. Teaching was a calling for her," he said.