Chennai: For T Ponnammal, teaching has always been her calling. She made heads turn among education community after she bagged the ‘Best Teacher Award’ from Tamilnadu government.
The honour was bestowed by Minister of School Education, KA Sengottaiyan in a ceremony held recently. Ponnammal is the headmistress of Chennai Middle School, Vadapalani. The resident of Nanganallur was surprised when the announcement was made. “I never imagined I will win something big,” she says. “My family, friends and colleagues were delighted.”
A native of Kanyakumari, Ponnammal grew up in a family of teachers. She says, many from her family were always into teaching and helping others. It was quite natural that altruism got stuck to her DNA. After getting a degree in Chemistry, Ponnammal moved to Chennai in search of better opportunities. She signed up for a teacher’s training course and finally became a teacher for primary classes in a government school. Over the years, she rose ranks working in different schools.
Ponnammal shares her approach to teaching. Since becoming a headmistress, Ponnammal kept track of student’s performance and made them fall on the right path based on their weakness, either academically or personally. “Many students I know come from extreme poverty and it forces them to discontinue,” she says. “But when families are consulted about how education can uplift the lives of their ward, they are ready to let their children pursue education.”
Ponnammal along with other teachers took responsibility to teach subjects which students had a fear for. “We also teach them interesting topics such as space science,” explains Ponnammal. She also shares how teachers can become better in their job. “They should do their job with love and passion,” she says. ‘In our school, every teacher helps each other to improvise their skills and become better in their work.” She adds, ‘It is essential to be compassionate to students.”