Saturday, 25. October 2014
24. 07. 11. - 11:00
"You're the best" is the unanimous message of his students.
And that means a lot to Danube International School teacher Thilo Förtsch, 44, who this year for the second year in a row collected the coveted top teacher award voted on by pupils at the Danube International School Vienna.
He grew up in South Africa, is married with two children and has been teaching Geography and Physical Education at the school since 2001.
And on the last day of the school year he turned up in his knee-length denim shorts and a sporty T-shirt, and casually made his way onto the stage to get the award amid raucous applause from the assembled students for the once again triumphant acceptance of the "Teacher of the Semester" award.
Mr Förtsch has now won the award two years in a row, so Austrian Times hyper local reporter Mina Petrova decided to meet him to uncover the secret of his popularity.
Asked why he came to Austria, and he replies "Mainly because of my wife" and laughs. For those who don't know, his wife is Austrian and the couple decided to return to her homeland for their new life together.
Previously he taught at Frankfurt International School, and before that at the German School of Pretoria", and before that I went to the army, and before that I went to high school."
In between he graduated in Geography from the University of Pretoria, but modestly admits that even though he's been voted top teacher he wasn’t always a top student.
He is the youngest of four brothers, and his older brothers "especially number two and three were academically quite strong, so I could benefit from their reputation", he explains.
"The teachers thought that I was just as capable as my brothers, but I was always younger than all of my classmates, so I was a bit behind, I think, I always had that feeling ‘I don’t get it’.
"I was sporty, so I got by with that. Languages were fine (he is bilingual in both English/German and also learnt Afrikaans at school), Geography was always my favourite, but I wasn’t any hotshot at school, not at all.
"Having matriculated so young, at seventeen, I didn’t know what to study, went to the army, and that’s when a lot of things started settling in my mind."
He was coaching the local German football team (football, he explains, is his main passion besides being a Geography teacher) and realised he had a talent for instructing and training others, so "the next step, becoming a teacher, wasn’t that far off. Everyone expected me to study something, so I thought – OK, how about teaching?"
It is a decision he never regretted, but what does he relish about teaching?
He said: "I like my subject, I like kids, I can relate to them well I think, because I’ve been a pretty rebellious student myself, so I can somehow understand them and relate to what they are going through, but I am also very enthusiastic about the material I teach, and I think that’s important as well. But I think I have a knack for teaching people something: coaching, teaching somebody to play tennis, anything."
Another of his secrets is his relaxed, jovial manner: "I am not pretending to be anything else than I really am. In life, there are just so many aspects out there that you can treat with a certain amount of humour", and any of his students will tell you that hardly a lesson goes by when they haven’t had cause to laugh about something.
He doesn’t hesitate for a moment when asked his motto in life: "Don’t worry about things you cannot change."
He adds: "Having come from an African background, I take things maybe slower than others, and I think that’s an important thing to do in life – not to race ahead, be first everywhere, be the best… you see that in a lot of European kids and there’s a lot of talk about being the best, what they have, where they’ve been.
"That doesn’t matter, you will never always win and you will not always be first, so just take it slow and always look ahead. Just chill for a while."
Good advice indeed – and that's why this article was slow to come to the pages. And as for Mr Förtsch, he's already preparing for his next class of students mixed in with his regular agenda of sports leisure, tourism and extreme climates.
* This article was written by Mina Petrova.
Get Shorty As Confused Bald Ibis Gets Lost Again
A rare bald Ibis that seems to have a different sense of direction to her fellow birds has once again had to be rescued after getting stuck trying to find a different route to the southern Italian feeding ground.
Alpine Trains Venture Into Space As The Final Frontier
Austria’s national railway line the OeBB has raised eyebrows after offering themed toilets including one that is supposed to "look and smell like outer space".
MEP caught In Brit papers Fraud Probe Jailed
A corrupt MEP caught by a British newspaper offering to propose amendments to EU laws in exchange for 100,000 euros a year has been given a three-year-jail term.
Vienna Jihad Girls Want To Come Home
The two Austrian teenage girls who became ‘poster girls’ for the jihad in Syria are now desperate to come home after getting completely disillusioned with their new lifestyles.
There was a festival atmosphere as Bundespresident Heinz Fischer opened Vienna's new Hauptbahnhof Friday morning.
Apple Truck Causes Traffic Jam
When 24 tonnes of apples are catapulted across a road it can only mean a jam.
Farmer Cleared Over Wolf Shooting
Furious animal rights campaigners have accused an Austrian farmer of lying after he shot dead a wolf that he claimed he thought was a fox.
Rare Bald Ibis Makes Microlight Flight To Italy
The project to introduce an extinct bird back to Europe is hailing success after successfully negotiating a new route over the Alps and training 14 Northern Bald Ibises how to fly south to winter feeding grounds in southern Tuscany.
Pat On The Back From Manure Explosive
A traffic cop in Austria got more than he bargained for after a booby trap covered him head-to-toe in manure as he was trying to catch people speeding.
Viennese Jihad Girl May Have Been Killed
Austrian police say that one of the two attractive young teenage girls who fled the country to go to Syria to fight on the side of Islamic rebels may have been killed.
The most popular stories –
last 7 days
|Shocking Pics As Boys Arm Torn Off At Zoo By Bear|
|Russian Artist Cuts Off His Ear|
|Beggars Disable Camel For Cash|
|Alpine Trains Venture Into Space As The Final Frontier|
|Cops Find Naked Dash Claim Was Snow Joke|
Why suffer in silence. Let off steam by letting our readers share your troubles. File your complaints about anything and everything here.
Our ombudsman David Rogers will try and help solve some of the problems from lazy civil servants through to incompetent companies – and at the very least the worst transgressors will end up in our weekly special report.