IT was a bright morning in the first week of March. The results of the Class VIII examination had been declared. Six students of Government High School, Chhota Shimla, were on the merit list of Himachal Pradesh and had won a scholarship. The entire school was celebrating. However, I was sad as I had not made it to the list. Four students wanted to change their school as they were apprehensive that they might not make it to the Class X merit list two years later if they continued to study in this institution. They wanted to gain admission to a ‘better’ school of the town. For this, a school-leaving certificate was required.
They were afraid to ask the deputy headmistress for the certificate as she was a very strict teacher. One of them, who was quite impatient, approached the deputy headmistress and sought the all-important document. The boy received a slap as the teacher had quickly sensed that something was amiss. Others, who were watching from a distance, got the stern message. The idea of leaving the school disappeared into thin air.
The unsavoury episode came to the notice of the headmistress. She was an educationist to the core. She immediately called a meeting of the teaching staff of Class IX. The matter was discussed thoroughly and everybody agreed that the school could ill afford to lose such good students. They were asked to specify the reasons for being keen on migration and offer suggestions.
During the discussions, it was revealed that these students wanted to be taught mathematics, physics and chemistry in the English medium. In a laudable decision, the headmistress left it to the students to choose the medium of instruction. Dozens of students opted for English; others picked Hindi. Separate classes were arranged and the impending migration was stopped.
Hardworking teachers went the extra mile during the next two years for the sake of these students. Extra classes were conducted regularly.
Then came March and the students took the final examination. The headmistress’ visionary leadership paid off. There were five students of our school on the merit list of the state. The majority of the examinees passed in the first division. The efforts of dedicated teachers brought laurels to the school.
Forty years have passed since then, but the anecdote is still fresh in my mind. Every year, on Teachers’ Day, I call up these teachers to say, ‘Thank you for shaping our dreams’.
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