While Jayalalithaa’s political and film career have been in the spotlight through her life, she considered her schooldays to be the “happiest” and “most normal days” of her life.
She moved to Chennai from Bengaluru when she was 10 years old and joined the Sacred Heart Matriculation School, also known as the Church Park Presentation Convent. Located near the Gemini Flyover, the sprawling school grounds nurtured great academic ambitions in Jayalalithaa, who reportedly was interested in pursuing a career in law before her entry into films.
Best outgoing student
“I absolutely loved my school days. I was the best outgoing student in my year and was the unanimous choice for the same, according to my headmistress and teachers. I consider this my proudest achievement,” she reminisced, in the late 1990s in a rare television interview. She also topped the matriculation examinations, and had received a scholarship for her academic performance.
Over the years, her association with her school and her teachers had remained strong. Sister Clare and Catherine Simon, her teachers from Sacred Heart School, were invited to attend the swearing-in ceremonies when she was elected the Chief Minister, even though she was not in touch with them on a regular basis.
In June this year, when Catherine Simon died, Jayalalithaa released a statement, condoling the death of her 88-year-old physical training teacher.
“She was a great influence on my life and we shared a very special relationship as a teacher and student. I had the good fortune of being her student from 1958 to 1964,” she said. In an interview to ‘Kumudam’ early in her acting career, she had recalled a letter that Catherine Simon had written about her dances in the movie 'Aayirathil Oruvan', and had said that she had immensely appreciated it.