A champion for the children at Wellington Shanghai Early Years Centre

March 09 12:33 2024

How Wellington’s Pre-Nursery Champion started out as champion on the softball field

A life rich with experience can be the most powerful teaching tool of all. This is why Wellington educators bring so much more to the classroom than their teaching credentials. Joanne Philander is a standout example. In her life before joining Wellington Shanghai Early Years Centre, Joanne had a successful career as a softball player. By age 17, she was playing at the international level, representing her country on the South African Women’s National Team. In 2010, she and her team even qualified to compete in the ISF Women’s Softball World Cup in Caracas, Venezuela. Today, she is Head of Pre-Nursery at this top international kindergarten in Shanghai, where she inspires the school’s littlest learners every day.  

Why softball?

Wellington College International Shanghai

From the age of five, I was always around the softball field. My family played baseball. My mum’s brother and her husband were both deeply involved in the sport. And when I turned eight, I could eventually join a softball team. So I fell into the family heritage of playing softball and baseball. When I started playing, I immediately loved the game. I loved the challenge. I also loved how there was always a winner at the end of the game. But, more importantly, I found that working together as a team was one of the greatest life lessons I learned growing up.

What position do you play?

Wellington College International Shanghai

I’m a utility player, which means I can play almost any position on the field. Growing up, I played infield, outfield, catcher. The only thing I couldn’t do was pitch. It’s actually not that normal to be that versatile in softball. But I knew I had good hand-eye coordination. I knew exactly where to play the ball next. I often played catcher. It was always my favourite position because it was such an important part of the game. They think the game. They tell the pitcher how to throw the ball.  

Your softball talent took you quite far in life. Tell us about that. 

I made the South African national team when I was 17. From there, it took a lot of dedication, a lot of hard work and a lot of practice to play the sport at an international level. And then one day there you are. Cameras are rolling. People are cheering. You’re playing against the best in the world, from the USA, Japan, Australia. These are people you grew up watching on TV, people you grew up idolising. It is just surreal. So, I had the best time of my life. I was just the awe of everything, the experience. It’s something I’ll never forget.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your softball career?

Wellington College International Shanghai

That would have to be when I dislocated my shoulder. My doctor told me that surgery might not be possible, and, of course, I needed my arm to play. So, I was really scared that my career was over. But I had a support structure with my mother and my friends, who would always encourage me. That kept me going.

What ultimately made you decide to become a teacher?

Wellington College International Shanghai

I have always had a love for children. It is so rewarding to help them grow and develop. When I began pursuing a career in education, I thought the Early Years would be the perfect start, because they are at that age where you can instil in them life lessons — how to be patient, how to be kind, how to work together as a team. All of these aspects are why I chose to be an educator, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Media Contact
Company Name: Wellington College International Shanghai
Contact Person: Admission Department
Email: Send Email
Phone: +86-21 5185-3866
Address:No.1500 Yao Long Road, Pudong New District
City: Shanghai
Country: China
Website: https://shanghai.wellingtoncollege.cn/