As one of Stellenbosch University's 2020 Developing Teacher Award winners, Dr Shantelle Weber, says winning the award means that the door not only opened for her, but also for those who come after.
“Winning this award has given me confidence in the journey travelled thus far and the journey to come. It means that such accolades are indeed possible for women from small, marginalised communities and single parent households. This award also reminded me that I have a need to continue my own development, which in turn will deepen my student engagement and teaching."
Launched in 2017, the Stellenbosch University (SU) Teaching Excellence Awards acknowledge lecturers in two categories, 'Distinguished Teacher' and 'Developing Teacher', based on their experience and leadership in the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Applicants had to submit a portfolio that demonstrated their reflection on and evidence of four main components: context, students, knowledge and professional growth. They also had to indicate the lessons they had learnt on their journey to becoming excellent teachers.
Weber has a PhD in Practical Theology from SU and is a senior lecturer in the Department of Practical Theology and Missiology. Her research work focuses mainly on youth ministry, work and development in South Africa, as well as faith formation of children, cultural and interreligious, social justice and societal relationships to name a few.
She is also the Director of Uzwelo Youth Development where she lives out her passion in training youth workers who cannot study full-time, and by mentoring youth and young adults with a passion for youth in South Africa.
According to Weber, she has always had a passion for teaching and working with young people. She hopes that students who identify with her journey will be encouraged to take up the baton in their varying spheres of influence and academic disciplines.
“My early education did not stimulate critical thinking or empower me towards future studies because this was not the usual pathway of a woman of colour at the time. I believe that as an academic in and from Africa, I should be willing to interrogate how African students learn; why this is the case (reflecting on the underlying belief systems and influences that impact this) and how these students can develop into critical thinkers who feel empowered to interact with global opinion within their fields.
“I believe my role as teacher should not be separated from the context in which I am teaching or the context that my students come from. Every student I teach, should experience my class and me as teacher as welcoming, engaging and relevant to the contexts from which they come and applicable to the contexts in which they will find themselves after graduation."
Weber's future plans include spending more time working on her research publication outputs, pursuing a teaching fellowship and journeying alongside her students to help them succeed.