Excellent Teacher Award – Dr Karel Kruger

As one of the 2019 Distinguished Teachers awards winners, Dr Karel Kruger, a lecturer at Stellenbosch University’s Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineer, says he finds great satisfaction in witnessing the development of his students.

Bagging an award in the category “Developing Teacher for the Faculty of Engineering, Kruger says growing up in a household where both parents were teachers meant that teaching would always have a permanent presence in his life.

Launched in 2017, the 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.

“I have been teaching formally since my appointment in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering in 2016. However, I taught in informal settings (i.e. small group tutoring and mentoring) since I finished my undergraduate degree in 2010,” says Kruger.

He says it is uplifting to receive this recognition. However, he does not consider such recognition as motivation for striving for excellence in his teaching.

“This has always been driven by my passion for student development. What this award does represent is a reaffirmation of the importance of teaching and facilitating student learning within Stellenbosch University, which inspires me to continue to improve my own contribution to teaching and learning at this institution,” he adds.

He describes the award as a representation of the support of the teaching and learning community at SU, which inspires him and gives him confidence to continue developing his teaching philosophy and initiatives.

With his passion for working with young people, Kruger says he hopes to instil an excitement and passion for learning and wants to encourage his students to find value in knowledge through its application.

Kruger mentions the completion of his PhD and his appointment as the biggest highlights of his academic career. “The teaching of my first lecture was both a terrifying and exhilarating experience at the same time. Another highlight has been the recognition through my teaching award.”

He says his biggest challenges occurred during the three years when he was doing his PhD part-time, when he had to juggle his new appointment as a full academic staff member and the birth of his daughter.

“For my entire teaching career I have enjoyed the continuous support of the teaching and learning community at the Faculty of Engineering. These people have advised and guided me in all my teaching endeavours and initiatives, and it was they who nominated me for this award. For that I am extremely grateful,” he says.

*The above-mentioned candidate will receive his awards during a ceremony at the end of the fourth quarter.

For more information about the Teaching Excellence Awards, contact Dr Karin Cattell-Holden at kcattell@sun.ac.za or 021 808 3074.