Rita Oppong - the teacher with a heart
Most teachers want a class made up of smart students to make teaching easier.
Majority of smart students are well liked by their teachers; they usually run errands for them and take up various leadership positions in their class and also in the school. This attitude by some teachers sometimes impact negatively on the less endowed students.
Since the level of intelligence of every individual differs, there is always the need for the dull students to be given a push so they can match up to the performance of their mates.
These children need extra attention and this is where most teachers lack the skill to perform to meet that expectation.
Going the extra mile
However, for Teacher Rita, this role has always been an easy task for her. Whenever she teaches a class, her main focus is not on students who are academically good, but to identify the weaker ones so she can assist them to improve upon their school work.
Usually Teacher Rita, who always develops love for all the children she teaches, will take pains to assist them by going the extra mile to provide extra tuition during break or after classes free of charge to the students she usually found to be struggling with their studies.
Teacher Rita’s method of teaching has impacted positively on the performance of her students, and all those who passed through her hands finally excelled in their examinations.
Apart from imparting knowledge in the classroom, she would gather children in her community during vacation and give them lessons on beads making, catering, basic drawing, Bible lessons, among others.
Through her efforts, the children designed and printed their own 'T' shirts.
Winning Best Teacher Award
In view of her sterling contributions towards the development of students both in and out of the classroom, it did not come as a surprise when Mrs Rita Oppong beat many other teachers to win the Best Teacher award in 2016. She was the only female among the males to be shortlisted for the final stage of the competition.
For her award, Teacher Rita received a laptop computer and a three-bedroom house at Oyibi which is currently under construction as her prize, according to her, the award would motivate her to continue to give of her best.
Senior High School days
Speaking to Mrs Oppong in an interview, she said when she was at the Armed Forces Senior High School (SHS), where she studied Visual Arts, she was very creative so her teacher advised her to pursue the course so she could become a teacher one day. Ironically, young Rita was not interested in teaching because she rather wanted to study nursing.
Life after SHS
After SHS, Rita had difficulty enrolling in a nursing training college because she had to rewrite the Biology exam to enable her to gain the required grade to gain admission; although she could have easily enrolled at the college of Education without difficulty. However, she was not deterred because she was bent on becoming a nurse in future. Sadly, she did not have money to pay and register for the exam so she worked as a sales representative at the Accra Brewery Limited (ABL) in order to save towards the registration for the exam.
While working with ABL, her senior brother who was then a teacher bought the Agogo Teacher Training College forms and convinced her to enroll at the college.
It was at this point that Rita changed her mind and heeded her brother’s advice and went ahead to sit for the entrance examination.
According to her, when her dad heard she was about to enter the training college, he was surprised because he thought she was too soft to become a teacher. “My brother convinced him that when I attend the college, I would be toughened. So you see, I now have the highest award in a profession I was initially not interested in, and my dad did not even trust that I could discharge my duties diligently,” she said with a smile.
Life in training college
Teacher Rita recalled that the allowances paid to teacher trainees at that time were enough to support her through her training programme. She said she even used part of the money to buy household items for her personal use when she was posted to her first station after school.
She said her mum who was a trader and her dad, a military man, never visited her while in school. “The only visitor I had during the four-year training period was my younger sister,” she pointed out.
Mrs Oppong recounted her days in the training college where students usually took part in what they termed "disco weeding", that was weeding at night and dawn.
She said those who could not do the ‘disco weeding’ had to pay in cash for their mates to do that for them, but for her it was fun.
Teacher Rita stated that teaching practice was exciting because they engaged in micro teaching where one of them would teach while the others listened and criticised later.
"One should always take criticism in good faith and improve on it," she added.
Posting after college
After her completion of teacher training college, she was posted to Akotoase, near Nkawkaw in the Eastern Akim District. She said her love for children did not wane as she always supported children who really needed help.
Rita taught for two years and continued to further her education at the University of Winneba. After completion, she was posted to Kamina Junior High School (JHS) in Tamale to join her husband who had then been transferred to the town. She taught there for seven years and was later posted to Soowadin ‘2’ Memorial JHS in the Adentan Municipality where she taught for eight years.
Currently, Teacher Rita has been posted to the Frafraha Community Day School and she is ready to continue to help students who are not academically good so they can also achieve their goals in life.
She is married with four children.