WATCH | 'I just want to make a difference': school dance video goes viral

Voluntary stint at an orphanage in India changed teacher's life goals

20 June 2019 - 13:51
By Iavan Pijoos

"Spread love and enjoy life to the fullest."

Ammiël Smith, a 27-year-old teacher, believes in changing the lives of every young child who walks through the doors of Vryburg Primary School in the North West.

Smith told TimesLIVE of his passion for teaching after a video of him dancing with his pupils went viral on social media.

By Thursday afternoon, the video had racked up more than 600,000 views on Facebook.

Smith said the video was taken on the last day of the term.

"The children were so happy that they got their results back and their marks looked good. I was also happy that we could have a break and rest for three weeks. We also got our salaries that day.

"We usually dance at our school to warm up or at the end of our programmes, to make the children feel special."

Smith is thrilled at the response he received from social media users.

"I was thinking of something light and positive which represent the better side of SA. I thought it might show the world that there is still some hope in the country."

He said the pupils were extremely excited when the video aired on the news. Those who did not own televisions went to their friends and neighbours to "watch themselves live in action".

'I want to make children feel special again,' says Vryburg Primary School teacher Ammiël Smith.
Image: Ammiël Smith 'I want to make children feel special again,' says Vryburg Primary School teacher Ammiël Smith.

Smith grew up in the small farming town in North West and also attended school in the area.

He has fond memories of his childhood days.

"We had a lot of fun."

Smith studied marketing management at North-West University, where the students are commonly referred to as Pukke.

He also did his honours in marketing and entrepreneurship at the institution.

"I worked as a sales and marketing representative for a few years, but the corporate industry wasn't my thing, it was just a chase for money."

He said during the 2016 December holidays, he travelled to India to work at an orphanage for three weeks. That was when his life changed completely.

"When I came back I told my parents that I thought I should become a teacher, because I think there are so many children who feel neglected.

"That is the one thing that I would want to change and I want to make children feel special again."

Smith then did his advanced diploma in teaching through North-West University.

He has been a physical educational teacher at Vryburg Primary School for two years. He is also the athletics and cross-country coach.

In his spare time he likes adventurous activities to "get his heart rate pumping".

"I jump from bridges, aeroplanes, diving with sharks and do a lot of mountain hikes."

A few years ago, Smith made headlines when he stood on a Bloemfontein street corner with a placard, advertising for a soulmate.

"The search for a wife was an immature thing to do. When I was younger, I thought that everything had a quick fix and I thought I was going to be married by now.

"That's not how my life turned out and I haven't found someone who fits my personality.

"I am very happy where I am at this stage of my life. I think that we should stop setting deadlines for ourselves. Life is a gift and you should enjoy it every day," he said.