Debbie Lowe has been part of the Prep family as our Academic Support Teacher for 23 years. Stories of pupils she has nurtured through their crucial foundation phase challenges go way back. Although Debbie is well-known to many, she may not be as well-known to some of our newer families, so we asked her a few questions about her life.
Q: Where were you born and where did you grow up? I was born in Graaff-Reinet and grew up on a farm on the plains of Camdeboo. I am very grateful for an idyllic childhood, running free in wide open spaces and not even a day of pre-school! My mom and dad are sporty, and so growing up, we were always playing some kind of sport. Remember those days when parents played sport all of Saturday, and when they were finished, us kids were allowed onto the courts or cricket fields and they’d play with us?
Q: Give us a bit of info about your school and work history: When I was six I started Sub A, now Grade 1, at Union Prep and was a weekly boarder. Over the years, I’ve known exactly how our little boarders feel when they miss home. What a wonderful start Union gave me, but because my dad is an Old Andrean, I moved to DSG when I was 12 – and so I was always a girl in green; first in bottle green and then in olive green. My six years at DSG were filled with so many happy times in the classroom, on the tennis courts and hockey fields and in the boarding house. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunities I had which allowed me to achieve a
completely holistic education.
I qualified as a teacher at Rhodes and spent a year teaching Grade 3 at Westering. I then moved back to Grahamstown. When Jussi was a little girl, I studied to become a remedial teacher and in September 1998, I started as the part-time remedial teacher at Junior Prep. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Q: Tell us about your family: I have a large extended family, but my little core family are my life partner and my daughter. I am certain that I am the only person who can claim to have a boyfriend called Bomber! Bomb and I love playing tennis together, travelling and wildlife photography. We also enjoy spending time at our beach house in Kleinemonde and long beach walks.
My daughter, now 27 years old, is my pride and joy! The fact that I produced tall, slim and blonde daughter is quite amazing. Justine started off her school career at Junior Prep, finished at DSG and then moved to Edinburgh to study Actuarial Science at Herriot Watt University. She is now a qualified actuary and is practising in Edinburgh. Despite my gratitude for the opportunities she has had to follow her dream, it is very tough for me to have her so far from home. Covid has exacerbated this and I have now not seen her for two and a half years.
Q: What are your personal interests and hobbies:
I love to travel, especially to areas like the Kgalagadi, Namibia and Botswana, where we spend hours photographing birds and animals. I also love to travel overseas to see my precious girl, and my brother and sister, both of whom live in the UK. And is shopping a hobby – because I love that too!
A good book and a good series on Netflix are the perfectway for me to unwind. And then time with special friends; gins on the deck or long lazy Sunday lunches are just some of the ways I like to make memories.
Q: What do you appreciate about being part of the Prep environment? Prep is a unique community. Junior Prep will always hold a very special place in my heart. My pupils become like my children, parents become my friends and colleagues become very special friends. It’s a bit like being part of a sisterhood; someone’s always there to lift you up, have your back and lend a hand. But I think what I love most about being at Prep can be summed up in three words: Love, laughter and learning. We have fun in and out of the classroom and I think that’s part of the appeal of the little school with the biggest playground ever.
In 2012 at Old Prep Supper, Jussi made the old girls’ speech. The analogy she used to describe her time at Junior Prep was that of a backpack. She said that on the first day of Grade 1, she walked down the driveway with an empty backpack. Over her three years, every person she encountered, from teachers, to friends to Joycie added something to her backpack and when she left at the end of Grade 3 her backpack was filled with memories, skills, life lessons and a feeling that her cup was full and she was ready for the next stage of her education journey. Each day she had laughed, she had been loved and she had learned so much!
Q: Any teaching insights or a funny story from your teaching time that you’d like to share? My top teaching insight would be to say: if we search hard enough we can find a way to teach most children in a way that they can learn. Sometimes it’s really hard work but when you get it right, the job satisfaction is unparalleled!