Tribute to extraordinary, humble teacher

12 May 2008

Humble, dedicated, meticulous, extraordinary. These words came from the heart to describe the late Kevin Rochford (1944-2008) at a memorial event at the Graduate School of Humanities last Tuesday.

Rochford recently lost his life in a shooting incident, believed to be an attempted hijacking.

The celebration of his life, attended by friends, family, colleagues and students, was held in the lecture theatre where he practiced so much of his teaching.

In his welcome, Professor Crain Soudien, one of Rochford's former students, said: "We thought it was appropriate. This is where he started over 30 years ago."

Rochford had been due to retire next year and had been married to Gadija only three weeks at the time of the shooting. The school had invited him to remain on their staff as a research associate.

Rochford joined the former Faculty of Education from Westerford High School as a lecturer in science education in 1976. He obtained his BEd and MEd degrees from the faculty and was awarded a PhD in 1984.

Apart from his gifts as a teacher, Rochford was many other things: he liked to cook, (dressed in his apron and brown slippers), inviting his postgraduate students to his home to bond, thus making the postgraduate experience "less lonely". He was a dedicated athlete, a veteran marathon runner, a magician, and he could teach grade 1 pupils with as much verve as he did his senior students.

"The magic of his inspirational teaching was a major influence on my professional life," said Associate Professor Rudi Laugksch, director of the School of Education.

"I experienced the magic of his inspirational teaching."

Rochford's field trips were legendary. He delighted in taking his students to every corner of the province to enrich the teaching experience: to De Hoop Nature Reserve, to the Holocaust Centre to relate science to history.

"He had a passion for intellectual enquiry," said Professor Lesley le Grange, deputy dean of the Faculty of Education at Stellenbosch University and one of Rochford's many MEd protégés.

"He taught us as educators that our pupils must want to learn. Only when a subject grabs them will they learn," said Reneé Carslake, a teacher at Pinelands High School and a former PGCE student said.

"Whatever your ideas, he always replied, 'As you wish'. Thank you, Professor. From you I truly learnt, as you wished."

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Please view the republishing articles page for more information.