KURNOOL: For more than 22 years he strived to mould his students into good citizens of the country. Under his guidance, the private school he worked at came to be known for its high standards. His efforts won him the ‘Best Teacher’ award from the students’ parents. But today, S Venugopal runs a tea stall to support his family. The former principal of Cattamanchi Ramalinga Reddy Residential School in Kurnool lost his job due to the Covid-19 crisis, and believing in the dignity of labour, he held his head high and started a tea stall on NH 44 near Krishna Nagar in Kurnool city.
A native of Velugodu village in Kurnool district, Venugopal started teaching in 1994 after completing BSc and BEd. His first stint as a teacher was at Pendekanti Public School in Bethamcherla. He later taught in other schools in Nandyal town and Velugodu, before joining Cattamanchi Ramalinga Reddy Residential School in 1998 as a biology teacher. He went on to become the principal, and served until May this year. Under pressure from the school management to work for less pay and ask his staff to do the same, while striving to get more children admitted to the school, he left the job.
When he quit in May, he was paid only half his salary, which was Rs 30,000. For the next two months, he was in a state of shock, unsure of how to support his wife and four children. “At that time, my wife suggested I start a kirana shop or medical store, but as it would require a big investment, which I could not afford, I decided to start a tea stall,” he told TNIE. Venugopal borrowed Rs 1 lakh from his friends and started the tea stall in the first week of August. “From ‘school master’, I have become ‘tea master’, and now earn Rs 500-600 per day. I am happy to be able to support my family in a dignified way,” he said.
The tea Venugopal sells has now become sought after in the area. He advised people like him, who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, not to lose heart, but start a business. Venugopal, who strongly believes that hardwork pays off, expressed concern for his former colleagues and other teachers who lost their jobs, and added that everyone can find a way out as he did. As for the future, Venugopal - who was inspired to become a teacher by his parents, who worked as government school teachers - says he hopes to return to the classroom soon and get back to teaching.