“Seeing one of our former headmasters frequent the school and take an active part in the management affairs we would wonder if he had actually retired,” recalls an alumnus of Sri Ahobila Math Oriental Higher Secondary School, West Mambalam.
Scenes of children running down the school corridor, those extra classes, correcting bundles of answer sheets, old students visiting you… it is difficult to erase memories of an institution one served for decades together, especially so, if one is a teacher.
In many schools, teachers continue to guide the school even after retirement. From becoming consultant to a school or taking private tuitions or offering voluntary service for an institution, many retired teachers make sure they are engaged. Once a teacher, always a teacher, that's what some of them say.
At 66, watching C. Pushparani give Scout and Guide training to students of Sri RKM Sarada Vidyalaya Higher Secondary School is inspiration for students and teachers. The retired primary school teacher takes two share-autorickshaws from her home in VKM Colony to come to the school in T.Nagar every Tuesday for an hour's class. “I got a good husband and pension to take care of me, but these lessons with children keep me going,” says Ms. Pushparani who does not take any remuneration for her service. The ‘leader trainer for Bulbuls' has arthritis, but says she is open to more schools seeking her help in scout and guide training.
V.Saraswati, 69, wanted to stay at home immersed in her books after she retired from the Department of English, University of Madras, but something or the other has kept her busy. “When people come and ask I couldn't say no. I never had a dull moment post-retirement,” says the vice-president of the English Language Teachers' Association, who is also writing books and guiding Ph.D scholars. With their long and extensive experience, retired teachers and headmasters, especially from government schools, are sought after.
A.Pandian, who retired as District Educational Officer of Chengalpattu in 2002, has been working without a break. Likewise his wife, Sugirtham, who retired as a government school headmistress, now teaches in a private teacher training institution. “Retired teachers are a valued asset,” says Mr. Pandian, who is an academic advisor in S.C.S. Matriculation Higher Secondary School.
Organising activities through forums such as the Mathematics Teachers Association of India and Physics Society are a few other ways how some retired teachers are taking passion for a subject to the younger generation. As M. Mahadevan, secretary of the association of Mathematics Teachers of India, says, “Your health is dependent on how active you keep yourself.”