In a community where children often face challenges at home and school, a teacher at the Bishop Lavis Secondary School in Matroosfontein decided to bring some smiles to their faces. Florance Vermeulen uses dance and other art forms to teach his students positive values and life lessons.
“Sometimes, children are not equipped to verbalise and express their true emotions, which limits them to grow into their full potential. So I use art,” Vermeulen says.
Watch how Vermeulen and his class do one of their famous dance routines. Written on his classroom wall is “confidence breeds competence.”
Growing up in difficult circumstances himself, Vermeulen refused to wallow in self-pity. Instead, he allowed it to motivate him to aspire to greater things. “It takes a lot of perseverance, unwavering faith and trust to believe in myself,” he adds.
Vermeulen strongly believes in being part of community upliftment, and is also acting as the president of the Cape Town leg of an international education initiative called Give a Child a Future. This involves scholarships for learners who are academically talented and motivated but previously disadvantaged to attend high schools across Cape Town.
“In essence, I am passionate about ploughing back into communities and schools, thus I put in a lot of effort into the programmes I partake in,” he says. “Art is my escape and coping mechanism that therapeutically empowers me to deal with difficult circumstances. Especially dance and drama are useful to enable self-expression, confidence and discipline within the learners I teach. Art is somewhat second nature to children in which they can develop fundamental skills that they can incorporate in all other learning areas.”
While many might look back on their school teachers in a negative light, its safe to say that Vermeulen is moving his pupils in a positive and unforgettable way.