Today, September 5, is Teachers' Day. This is the day when we pay tribute to our school teachers and spare some moments to show gratitude for that humble school teacher who laid the foundation for success. It is a day to thank them for what we are today.

There are many famous quotes on the role and influence of a teacher. For instance, one author has said that “a teacher affects eternity, he can never tell where his influence stops.”

Professions change, lifestyle goes up and technology improves day by day. But school teachers remain selfless and caring as always while batches of young children pass out of school each year.

“We hear words of gratitude from our old students on this day. Teachers' Day is a day for renewing the relationship and we feel happy when they send messages,” says A. Sudhakaran, Principal, Vikaasa School, Madurai.

School teachers are put on a par with parents because they handle the critical period of childhood and adolescent age.

Teachers have commonly acknowledged that it is the primary/elementary school teachers who need a special word of thanks since it is they who see the toddler graduate to teenage.

“I always believe that primary teachers have greater influence on children. In fact, they lay the foundation, spending their time and energy on the kids who just walk into school,” says C. Udayakumari, Headmistress, O. C. P. M. Girls Higher Secondary School.

Every successful student is a teacher's produce and all students can mark success if they do not go haywire after schooling. There are several examples of a teacher's student coming back to the same institution as a teacher and working alongside the earlier ‘guru.'

“My own students joined the same school as teachers and now we work along. Our positive influence depends on how we conduct ourselves and leave a lasting impression on students' minds,” opines Uma Ramesh, Principal of a TVS Group higher secondary school.

Mr. Sudhakaran too agrees that a school teacher will have to inspire if he or she has to be in the category of great teachers.

“In the context of today's new fast culture of Facebook and Twitter, every student needs a good friend and only a teacher can don the role of a friend, philosopher and guide. It is said that a good teacher is costly but bad teachers cost more. Well known author Thomas Carruthers has said that a good teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary and that is very much true,” the Vikaasa Principal says.

Of course, there is adequate recognition for teachers from the old students too. They organise reunion meetings where they invite their old teachers to honour them. “I am in teaching profession for 32 years, teaching English. Though I am a HM today, I prefer teaching to administration. I always take it as a privilege to teach at least one class per day since being with students gives me satisfaction,” Ms. Udayakumari says.

There is no second thought that teaching is a noble profession. And teachers expect their students to attain good positions in any job. Ratna Milton, a postgraduate teacher in a higher secondary school in Madurai, observes that teachers can be role models only when they practise what they teach in class -- be it cleanliness, discipline or punctuality.

Ms. Uma Ramesh, who joined as a maths teacher in 1986, says that the role of a teacher has changed today and it is not the same of olden days. “These days, the adolescents want someone to listen to them.

Today's teachers are like a guide, counsellor and facilitator,” she feels.

As teachers try to make the classroom a home away from home, it is the moral responsibility of students to remember and respect the old teachers.

Teachers too still remember their school teachers and Mr. Sudhakaran recalls a small incident that happened to him when he was a fourth class student.

“We had gone for an excursion in 1966. I was hungry even after taking the meal. The hotel bearer said that it was only limited meal ordered for students. My then teacher Seethalakshmi gave her meal to me and she went hungry. Till today I remember that and it is a sign of teachers' sacrifice,” he cites an example.

And truly, we cannot be what we are but for our teachers. It is they who give engineers, doctors, professionals and qualified workforce to the nation.

The country naturally says a million thanks to its teachers.

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