Recipients of the Dr. Radhakrishnan Award for Best Teacher share their memories

Moments before receiving the Dr. Radhakrishnan Award for Best Teacher, A. Kalaivani’s memories were of the one year she spent at an elementary school for Narikuravar children, R. Booma recalled how her students in Kumizhi in Kancheepuram were upset when she got married and left over a decade ago, and an emotional M. Kalyani could barely contain her excitement.

The involvement of these teachers, who were among the 370 who were conferred the State government award on Teachers’ Day, extended much beyond the classrooms. “In my 22 years as a teacher, the one at the school for Narikuravar children in Coimbatore district was the most challenging and rewarding. They had to be shown basic things such as toothpaste, brush, soap and shampoo. It is hard to earn their trust, but once you do that, they never forget you, and begin coming regularly to school,” said Kalaivani. However, to this day, she remains astounded by their grasp of mathematics. “Nobody has understood mathematics like them,” she recalled. When it was time for her to leave, she remembered how the parents of the children were quite upset. “They told me that they were now able to board the right bus because their children could read the route board, and were even able to read newspapers.” The best part about being a teacher, she said was when students remembered you years later.

“Students I taught at Alandurai village, also in Coimbatore, are placed in IT companies and are still in touch with me. It is not just students of private schools who make it big,” she said.

Ms. Booma, who now works at the Panchayat Union Middle School in Guduvanchery, said that she has created Facebook pages for the school as well the previous one she worked at to showcase activities of the children. “In one of the schools I worked earlier, we had to walk around 7 km because there were no buses. But years later, when students remember you, the efforts are worth it,” she said.

For R.P. Subbulakshmi, who teaches higher secondary classes at Presidency Girls Higher Secondary School in the city, the most exiting part about being a teacher is pushing boundaries. “I try to keep students updated about the advancements in microbiology and biology, which are some of the subjects I teach,” she said.

Teachers from government and government aided, matriculation, Anglo-Indian and social defence schools and State Council For Educational Training and Research received the award from P. Palaniappan, Minister for Higher Education, who was given additional charge of School Education portfolio on Thursday. “Each day should be celebrated as Teachers’ Day,” he said.

School Education Secretary D. Sabitha said the government had appointed 51,757 teachers last year. Officials from the school education department were present.

More In: Chennai | News