Society

I am... Chitralekha S

Chitralekha S   | Photo Credit: Liza George

Occupation: Non-teaching staff member

I am so happy that a new school year has started; I was starting to miss the babble and chatter of children. I have been working as a non-teaching staff member, a class help, for the past 18 years. In fact, I am one of the oldest serving one in this school. The children call me auntie.

My husband, Vinod Francis, is also employed in Christ Nagar School and is currently posted at the Thiruvallam branch. When the ICSE school of Christ Nagar first began a kindergarten session, they were looking for ‘aunties’ to look after the children. Vinod suggested my name and that is how I started serving the school. No, there was no training or workshop to attend.

I have two children of my own and handling the kids in school is based on how I interact with my own children, firmly but kindly. After serving at the Christ Nagar ICSE school, I shifted to the Christ Nagar State School and later to Christ Nagar CBSE school.

The first day of school for the students of LKG is always tough. The kids are wary of the environment and are often upset. They usually settle down after a week or two. I believe interacting with kids in an affectionate manner goes a long way; they listen to what you say. Each class in the LKG and UKG section is designated an auntie each. That person will look after the needs of the students under her wing, be it toilet emergencies, health issues, making sure they have their meals.... She is extra alert when school is over as she has to ensure that the kids travel on the right bus and that it is the kid’s parent or van driver who has come to pick them up. There are some van drivers who are irresponsible. Sometimes they leave without picking up the child from his/her class. In such cases, the auntie calls up the child’s parents and waits with the child till his/her parent arrives. She then cleans the class and its premises.

The children of Gen-Now are bold. They greet and make small talk with us. However, although I have interacted with hundreds of students over the years, I often don’t recollect their names and faces. It is nice however, to know that they recognise and remember me. Sometimes, while out with my family, students who have long passed out from school come up and greet me.

I am 45 years old now and have been given a promotion by the current school principal. While I am still part of the non-teaching staff, I have been assigned minor administrative roles. For instance, if a teacher is absent, I need to organise a substitute teacher to fill in for him/her.

As there is hectic traffic along this road in the mornings, I usually try and come in early to work. In the evenings, my husband comes to the Kowdiar campus by the school bus from Thiruvallam. We return home together. We live in Jagathy.

After a piping cup of tea, I start doing the chores at home. There will be clothes to wash, the house to clean, dinner to cook... I usually prepare the next day’s lunch the night before. That way, I just have to concentrate on breakfast the next day. I dislike taking leave as I find it dull to sit at home. What did I do during the summer holidays? I came to work.

I helped sort out the books for the students for this academic year. Besides, we usually do our spring cleaning during the holidays. We get paid extra for it as the job is, at times, laborious. My daughter, Mercy B. Francis, has completed her engineering degree and my son, Sibin B. Francis, is employed at the X-Ray laboratory at Medical College. I am content with my job. I love interacting with children and hope to do so for as long as I can.

(A weekly column on men and women who make Thiruvananthapuram what it is)


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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 7:47:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/chitralekha-s-talks-about-working-as-a-non-teaching-staff-member/article19047639.ece

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