What makes a great teacher? It all comes down to passion for the job, according to Shereen Cassim.

Shereen Cassim has worked in education and training for almost 40 years, but she is still as passionate about teaching as the day she started.

“To become a teacher, you have to love it and have a passion for teaching,” Shereen says. “It’s not just a job, it’s something you do with your heart and soul.

“It’s not about the skills and knowledge that you share, it’s about the person that you’re dealing with and if you don’t like being around people, then teaching is probably not for you.”

After finishing high school in South Africa, Shereen did her teaching degree. She has been teaching at schools, technical colleges and teacher training colleges ever since, aside from a stint in management and policy research and development.

“I had to come back to teaching because ultimately it was still my passion,” she says.

Working as a teacher in the Business and IT department at Chisholm, no two days are the same for Shereen.

From assisting students, to doing professional training or developing resources and assessment tasks, there’s always something interesting on the agenda to keep Shereen busy.

“As a teacher, it varies and I think that’s probably why it still holds a lot of excitement for me,” she says. “The best part of my day is when I have a chance to meet with some of my colleagues and share ideas about the latest educational trends, methodologies and technology. It’s that community of practice that I love.”

But for Shereen, the absolute highlight of her job is her students.

“Getting to know them as individuals, their different stories and experiences, engaging with them and witnessing that ‘ah ha’ moment when things suddenly make sense to them is what makes teaching so special,” she says.

“When you can entice the introverted and reticent students to find their voice and participate in classes out of their own volition, is really rewarding”

“I am grateful for the fact that at Chisholm, I have access to wonderful teaching and learning resources. Considering my background, I never take that for granted.”

Shereen has taught across the board, from Certificate II to Advanced Diploma levels.

One of her key achievements in recent times was working with students from Kiribati and facilitating their RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) process for the Certificate II in Business.

Despite the many challenges, namely having to deliver remotely (on Zoom) and internet connectivity issues on the island, the students were determined to succeed.

“It is really a humbling experience to work with such down-to-earth, friendly, generous and appreciative learners,” Shereen says.

Shereen has had a distinguished career, with several award nominations to her name. She won an innovative Chisholm STAR award for co-developing a new joint management program to drive up international student numbers, and in 2022 she was nominated as Educator of the Year at the Chisholm Education Awards.

However, the achievements Shereen holds dearest to her heart are the small wins she’s had with students over the years.

“It’s little stories of students you help along the way that makes you feel that it was worth it – becoming a teacher,” she says.