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A class act

For Lara-Ann Koch (43), deputy principal at Marist Brothers Linmeyer, her career path began when she was asked to teach at Sunday school and from then she gravitated towards teaching.

And so Lara-Ann’s story unfolds and she tells why she has never looked back and wished she’d chosen another profession, as teaching is in her heart and soul.

She was brought up in the South of Johannesburg, living in Brackenhurst and then Glenvista, where she lives now with her husband Sascha, and their three children, Daniella and Gabriella twin girls of thirteen years old and Alexander (10).

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“Our home is always very loud and busy as you can imagine with three youngsters and we also have two Weimaraner dogs, who are such characters. Friday night is homemade hamburger-and-movie night in our house and on the weekends, my husband and I enjoy going for a run together on Saturday and Sunday mornings – we ran our first 21km race
in March of this year. In summer, we spend our days down at the pool and frequently braai. We also often take the children with their bicycles and our two dogs down to Rietvlei
for a run on a Sunday afternoon. The outdoor lifestyle suits us all and we try to get out and about as much as we can.

“We are very proud of our children. Daniella was elected as deputy head girl and Gabriella performed the role of mini councillor and prefect. They are both lovely young ladies and I
look forward to them joining me in he high school next year. Alexander has most definitely benefited from having two older sisters and he is a kind and happy boy.

“I don’t have a lot of spare time but I do enjoy reading and running. As a family during holiday times we try to visit a variety of places, such as the majestic Drakensberg Mountains, the Kruger National Park, Cape Town and Ramsgate – with its Waffle House. You don’t even need to leave the country and you can experience so many different holiday destinations. The fact South Africa has such beautiful weather and such a rich life is a blessing.

“Looking back to my younger days I kept my parents, Wendy and Roy Nolan extremely busy when I was at school, since I participated in most extra-curricular activities. My parents never pushed me to do well, innately I have always given of my best in everything I was involved in. I worked hard academically and excelled at school, at the same time, I practised hard to perform well at netball, tennis, drama, public speaking and choir. In primary school, I was the Mini Councillor and in Grade 11, the Junior Councillor and in Grade 12, Head Girl.

“So you can see even before I began teaching I aspired to school life,” she laughed.

Her teaching career started at St Davids Marist Inanda.

“I was only 25 when I was promoted to Head of Department Mathematics. Around this time, I found the love of my life, a true gem from the South and I wanted to go back to my roots.

When I got a position at Marist Brothers Linmeyer I was in seventh heaven as I got to work with my mentor and principal of the school, Gary Norton.

“Soon after I was back in my position as head of department mathematics and not long after was promoted to deputy principal. Being in senior management was not something I ever aspired to take on. The school has a history steeped in tradition and and being chosen to experience the Marist Pilgrimage in 2017, further cemented what my role as deputy should entail. Our ethos is based on five characteristics that were introduced by our
founder St Marcellin Champagnat: family spirit, love of work, In the way of Mary, presence and simplicity and our three values of modesty, humility and simplicity. I have made it my goal to create an awareness of the characteristics and values in our learners, educators and parents.

“The most difficult part of the job is dealing with unhappy parents or educators. I firmly believe in treating each situation with honesty and professionalism. If my answer to an email is longer than a paragraph, I rather pick up the phone or arrange a face-to-face meeting. I have an open-door policy and want learners, parents and educators to feel they can approach me at any time. I do, however, have a strict email policy for myself. I don’t
read emails after 5pm in the evening and I don’t read emails on the weekend either.

“I currently teach one class of Grade 12 mathematics learners. Mathematics is my passion. I try to instil a good work ethic and teach the learners how to approach difficult questions in mathematics. Mathematics anxiety is a real thing. I record videos so they can re-watch concepts until they understand it. We even watch Mr Bean videos and I try to make my lessons exciting.

“A special part of my job is when I receive an unexpected message on Facebook or an email from a past learner who has realised I have made a difference in their life. This is priceless and makes every single day worth it. Teaching for me is like a duck taking to water, I occasionally have my feathers ruffled but at the end of every day, as I drive home with my children and look forward to seeing Sascha, I know I’m exactly where I want to be. We have to live and love every second…and I certainly do.”

Text: Julie Maule. Photos: Candice Araujo Photography.

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