Support pours in from parents and alumni; regular classes from today

Three days after a student allegedly murdered a teacher there, St. Mary's Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School, on Monday, showed signs of coming back to normality.

Students returned home after the assembly prayer and condolence service that was attended by teachers from many other schools, and parents. Regular classes, besides counselling sessions, will resume from Tuesday, said the school headmaster Fr. Sibi Mathew.

“We are thinking of starting counselling sessions with the students who were in regular touch with her. All of them are visibly shaken now, so it will take time for them to cope with the situation,” he said. Meanwhile, the classroom has been cleaned and white washed and the focus will be to move on, say school officials. In all, 1,726 students study in the all-boys school.

The South India Salesian Society along with Don Bosco institutions has collected Rs.5 lakh to fund the education of the deceased teacher Uma Maheswari's daughters. “Many parents have come forward to help and we will soon open a fixed deposit account for them,” said Fr. Mathew. Ms. Maheswari was working as a science teacher in the school for six years, before which she was a teacher in St. Columbus Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School. She has also worked in a couple of CBSE schools.

“She expressed interest in teaching Hindi when we were trying to find a replacement for our Hindi teacher, who retired last year,” said Mr. Mathew. With a few days left for the Board exams, the concern is also to find somebody who takes the science classes for class IX and X that Uma Maheshwari used to, he added.

Also present to provide support to the school were many of its alumni. “The school has always been very supportive to children, and being one of the oldest schools, almost 160 year-old and one of the first five schools to be set up during the British period, there is much emphasis on value-based education and discipline,” said J. Alexander, an alumnus of the school whose son studies in the same institution.

A teacher noted that Uma Maheshwari was one of the few teachers who would use even the break to correct notes or meet students. “That particular day too, she had asked the six students who had scored the least in Hindi test to come and meet her to discussquestions,” she said. In a meeting, after the assembly, teachers of the school were briefed by the principal and correspondent on how to go about their classes from Tuesday.

Many teachers and parents paid floral tributes at the mass service organised in the church adjacent to the school. “More than a loving teacher, my children remember her as their dance mentor. They say that during cultural programmes, whichever dance team she took charge of, always won,” said M.J. John, a parent.

“The only regret we have is that the government has not responded till now. As teachers, we feel there could have been more understanding from them,” said a teacher from another Anglo Indian school.

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