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“James Kabwela!” It resounded in my head. I looked around and saw all the people paying particular attention to the voice of the announcer as it echoed through the public address system. Who could this be?

Everyone wondered and looked around. Immediately, it dawned upon me that it was no one else but I, James Kabwela, a teacher of English Language and Literature from Rhodes Park School, being called to the podium by the master of ceremonies.

To this effect, I raced towards the announcer’s table and my colleagues who were equally overjoyed followed me in awe. “We have won an award, Rhodes Park School!” they could be heard screaming with excitement. I was congratulated and group photos could not have come at any better time than this.

Indeed, the 2017 World Teachers’ Day celebrations held at the Lusaka’s Show Grounds on the 5th of October under the theme, ‘ Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers’, will forever remain special to me, as this was the day I received recognition from the Teaching Council of Zambia at national level. The award was to do with hard work and professionalism. It also meant that I had been selected as one of the model teachers for the Teachers’ Council.

A beautiful, copper coated, Zambian map- shaped wall clock with my name on it and a monitory token of One Thousand Kwacha was what I received on that day. However, my excitement could not be limited by either of the two. In addition, I looked at the whole event as an acknowledgement and appreciation of my efforts in assisting the learners entrusted in my hands and a testimony that I was on the right track as a teacher. I was highly motivated, empowered and looked forward to teaching in freedom. Surely, the theme became a reality to me.

I then remembered what I was eight years ago; a very young and fragile primary school teacher. It was not until I joined Rhodes Park School on the 1st of October, 2010 that my career began to take a new direction. A many thanks to my Head teacher Mr Henry Mwangala Kwalombota who not only provided the system that brought out the best in me but also went further to supporting me in every way possible. He encouraged me to go further in my studies and get better equipped for teaching. “Go young man and enjoy your studies when you are still young!” he would say, while holding my hands and looking at me straight in the eyes. These words pierced the inner core of my intelligence as they echoed in my head and remained a driving force in my career. I felt motivated and realised I had the potential to grow professionally. The sky was definitely not the limit for me. Oh! Joy Mwangala Kwalombota from Lifweko village, in him I have a complete mentor.

I considered myself blessed because all the people around me played a very important role in inspiring me in this noble profession. The two deputy head teachers, Mrs Stella Zimba and Mrs Anna Malandu for secondary and primary sections respectively, my head of department Mrs Shengamo and all the leaders and colleagues at various levels of the hierarchy, formed a strong family which provided each member an opportunity to grow professionally.

Furthermore, the Independent Schools Association of Zambia (ISAZ) to which Rhodes Park School is a member equally played a pivotal role in seeing to it that the member schools had sustainable programmes in order to provide quality education to the clients. As a result, teachers in these schools had to work hard throughout. Therefore, this award was not an individual award but a collective one. It showed how strong the education system was at Rhodes Park School and many others under the ISAZ.

Therefore, I would like to thank The Almighty for accepting my efforts and providing me with the ever supporting leaders at Rhodes Park School. I also wish to thank my colleagues for the family atmosphere we have shared throughout my time at this Great School of Old. This will forever be the greatest achievement in my career.

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