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Teacher of the Day

Name:  Srijaya Char

School:  Retd. Vidyaniketan School, Hebbal, Bangalore

Subjects:  English, science, social sciences and the Bhagavad Gita (not as a religious text but as a 'life skill')

State:  Karnataka, India

What or who inspired you to become a teacher?

My father. He was a professor in an Engineering Research Institution in Bangalore, India. He has been my role model. Next, my mother who taught me all the 'good things' in life without making it like preaching. She is also my role model.

How are things different for you now, compared to when you first started teaching?

I have now retired, yet I am still a teacher. I love the profession and like to bring in the values of life to every child I meet. I started a library for children in my own home to ensure that every child could be introduced to books, and I was very successful in my endeavor. Children would flock to me in the evenings!

What advice would you give to a new or struggling teacher?

We need to enhance her self-esteem. As the Head of the school, I took it upon myself to see that teachers who were struggling were given more encouragement than others. Though I received some negative vibes from other teachers, I took it in stride.

My best day in the classroom was when…

I knew a student who was suffering from Muscular Dystrophy from the time he was in Std 1. He seemed okay, only that his gait was a bit odd. His mother was also a teacher in our school, and she would help him onto the school bus. As he grew up and came to Std 7, I was his English teacher. He was now in a wheelchair. He was very fond of me, and I would make it a point to go and see him almost on every lunchtime, as he could not play out and would be sitting in his wheelchair in class.

It so happened that I needed to go to the U.S. to help in the delivery of my grandson, and I stayed there for four months on leave. After I resumed duty, he was already in the 8th and I was anxious to see him. I waited for lunch break and went to his class to see him. As soon as he saw me, he cried so loudly and hugged me and said between sniffs that he had missed me during lunchtime all these months. He hugged me so tightly that I could not extricate myself from him. I consoled him and came out of the class.

I am very happy to say that he passed and got his 10th with a FIRST CLASS (honors). Imagine the delight of his parents. They both came home to tell me that if it were not for me, he would not have pulled through until then. I consider this the best day of my life, not only in my classroom, but always, everywhere!

The best compliment I ever received was...

There was this little boy in Std 2 who was afraid of everything. He once told me that he was very scared of  'dead bodies.' "I always close my eyes when I see a dead body on the streets," he would say. I wanted to change his mind. I told him to bring any toy he had at home which was his favorite. He brought a toy car. I said I would keep it for some time and give it back to him, and he agreed. I took the toy and broke it into pieces, and the next day, I told him that I was very sorry that it fell and broke. I told him that I would buy a similar one for him soon. He agreed, with tears. I looked for a similar car and brought it to him and also gave him the old, broken toy.

"I don't need that," he said.

"Are you afraid of it?" I asked.

"Not at all, ma'am, why?" he asked.

"Then why do you say you are afraid of dead bodies?" I asked. "They are just like broken toys."

Now he is a man of 40, married with children. He met me one day in the park and was narrating to his wife about the incident. He said, "Ma'am, you did teach me a lesson that day. When my mother died a few years ago, I remembered you and did not shed a tear."

What's your favorite part of the school year?

Everything about the school years. I loved it, and I still love it. I have now retired, but I cannot forget any incident that happened in school--they are 'heavenly.'

What is your one must-have item for the classroom?

Children being happy, smiling and questioning.

What do you eat for breakfast on school days?

Masala dosa; idli, sambhaar and vada; and vegetable upma.

What movie or TV show do you secretly love?

Agatha Christie's Witness for the Prosecution.


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