This week’s Welcome To Sanford Teacher of the Week is Vincent Pienaar, the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Elective Teacher and AVID Coordinator at SanLee Middle School. Mr. Pienaar’s teaching career spans over 35 years and three different continents! Yet he is also widely regarded as a SanLee mainstay . . . he’s been at SanLee since the school opened. Mr. Pienaar holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education (kindergarten-sixth grades), as well as numerous elementary and middle school certifications.
Mr. Pienaar’s “whatever it takes!” mindset has earned him the respect of his peers and students, as well as significant recognition. He was honored as SanLee Teacher of the Year in 2011-12 and 2017-18, as well as Lee County Schools’ Teacher of the Year for 2011-12. Mr. Pienaar has also earned national acclaim, recognized as the VIF International Teacher of the Year in 2008. During Mr. Pienaar’s tenure at SanLee, the school has achieved AVID National Demonstration School status — a certification reached by only 3% of schools across the country.
The inspiration for Mr. Pienaar’s teaching philosophy comes from a quote by Nelson Mandela, which states “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Mr. Pienaar uses this as a foundation in teaching that balances student support and accountability. He comments, “I believe that students need a safe learning environment and an equal opportunity to learn. I work daily to ensure that all students in my classrooms are held to high expectations and supported with needed instructional help. Mutual respect and a variety of learning activities to accommodate differences in student learning, is imperative to enhance student performance.”
During his time at SanLee Mr. Pienaar has also served as a Beginning Teacher Mentor, put together morning announcements and presented AVID Professional Learning Workshop to fellow SanLee educators. His time away from school, shared with his wife Anriette (who is a Social Studies teacher at SanLee), is equally busy. His interests include camping, water skiing, wakeboarding, and fishing, as well as entertaining and hanging out with friends.