A teacher who leads by example
Chennai: A teacher is a change-maker, proves 37-year-old Sripriya, teacher in a government-aided school at Elephant Gate in Chennai. In her 18-year experience, she has produced several good students, from a business manager in Africa to a hotelier in Chennai. She taught to not just score marks in exams, but also live a meaningful life. “Leading a life without hurting others is discipline. I taught this to my children,” says Sripriya who is always called ‘Amma’ by her students. Swami Vivekananda’s ardent follower, Ms Sripriya doesn’t believe in ‘things-take-time’ attitude. She told her children twice that their classrooms and toilets should be clean.
When they failed to keep them clean, she took up the task herself. “When I cleaned the classroom and toilets, my children felt the pain. Now, they keep their rooms immaculately clean,” she said with joy. According to her, teachers should be good listeners first. “Compared to adults, children suffer severe mental stress. Unless we listen and help them to overcome their problems, we would never be able to teach any useful lessons. One of my students was a drug addict. He did not have any attention from his parents at home. I listened to him and told him I would be his good friend and a foster mother and he could share his problems with me. He opened up and told me his worries. He is a successful entrepreneur in Chennai now,” Ms Sripriya recalls triumphantly.
Several students who went astray returned to the right path when the teacher lent them her ears. Inspired by her, a team of her old students, under the banner of ‘Gold Heart Foundation’, has started tuition centers for underprivileged children. Presently, they teach in 17 orphanages and eight slums. Celebrating Deepavali with children from juvenile homes, organising children’s day for poor children, conducting blood donation camps, counselling depressed children are her special interests.
Her husband Hari and son Niranjanan, a class 9 student, have understood Ms Sripriya’s inclination to serve people, and, so, support her at home. Recently, she received a saree from an old student who studied under her 12 years ago, from abroad, and says it was a priceless gift. Now her foundation has been chosen by the city corporation to spread awareness among Chennaiites to stop dumping garbage in public places. Ms Sripriya can be contacted on 9884629206.