It’s business as usual for VS Sheila Rani as she gives out instructions to her office staff, attends visitors and answers phone calls every two minutes. The headmistress of Government Girls High School Pattom, she is one of the 14 recipients of the National Award for Teachers, instituted by the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), this year. Amidst the hectic schedule she now handles, classroom is one place that she misses, says Sheila Rani, who began her teaching career more than three decades ago.
In between signing circulars, handling money and dealing with the major and minor problems brought before her by her staff, she talks of her previous postings and life as a teacher.
“My first ever appointment was back in 1983 at the government high school at Veeranakavu,” she said trying to recollect the dates. “And my longest stint as a teacher was in the boys’ school at Kanyakulangara, where I taught for close to 14 years.”
One of her most memorable postings, she feels, was at the government school at Aruvikkara where she was posted as headmistress in July 2009.
“The PTA and staff of the school were helpful and I think I was able to bring about a lot of improvement to the students’ proficiency in English there,” she said, smiling with evident pride. “I would insist on conducting assemblies in English and encouraged students to talk among themselves in the language too.”
A graduate of chemistry from Mar Ivanios College in 1978, she says she has always taught her students trying to relate the subject to every day events.
“For example, if I say pressure is inversely proportional to volume, students won’t understand the concept,” she said. “So I would take a box full of cotton, show them how much space it occupied at the normal atmospheric pressure then press it down to demonstrate the principle.”
With metal-rimmed glasses perched firmly on the edge of her nose, she looks every bit the stern, no-nonsense teacher. But the small bouquets of roses on her table, tokens from her students, speak of their affection for her.
“I believe that students should be treated with love and I have always followed it in practice,” she said. “Of course, I would scold if I see someone doing wrong.” A mother of two, she says a teacher is at her best when she is a trustworthy friend to her students.
Her children are both software engineers and her husband K S Saseendran is a retired assistant general manager of Kerala Financial Corporation.