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Math classes were troublesome but she ended up majoring in it at college. An inspiring teacher changed the course of her life, writes Anupama Venkatesh.
Once someone rightly said, “A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind and touches a heart.” I have experienced this first hand with my beloved teacher, Mrs. Nambikkai Mary. ‘Nambikkai’ means hope in the Tamil language. Perhaps, my teacher’s parents had the intuition that she would become a teacher to bring hope to kids like me, and thus named her accordingly. I may never know the real reason behind her name but what I do know is that I am fortunate as she played a major role in shaping my life.
At least to me Nambikkai Mary miss, as we used to call her, was a god sent person. I disliked math in my 8th grade mainly because of the teacher who was teaching it. This teacher was partial to certain kids, probably because of their skin color or maybe something else which I am unable to recall now nor I would want to. Perhaps, my mind erases unpleasant things so that I do not dwell on them much.
All I can remember is that she did not treat us all equally and did not help some of us if we failed to understand a problem. Rather, we were punished. The fear of getting punished made me stop asking her questions. So I did not get good grades. At the end of my 8th grade, I had almost made up my mind that math was the worst subject in the world. Little did I know that I will experience exactly the opposite in my 9th grade.
It was the first day of my 9th grade and I was all excited. Who wouldn’t be? My parents had helped me bind the new books with bright, shiny and crisp brown paper. Each book had labels on them with my name and grade neatly written. Adding to that, I had a shining new pencil box. Those were simple pleasures! I am amazed how simple yet special our lives were before this age of gizmos and gadgets.
We did not have a lot then, so when we were given something it was extra special, whatever that it was. I had packed my special books and pencil box in my favorite school bag and was ready to meet my friends and start the new school year with a bang.
Sitting beside me was my best friend. Classes were great so far on the first day and we were just about done with the first 2 periods. However nervousness crept into me slowly and I was not looking forward for the 3rd period. Yes, anyone would guess that right, 3rd period was Math, the subject that I dreaded at that time. I was nervous as I recalled my not so great experience with the Math classes last year.
Just then, our new teacher, Nambikkai Mary Miss walked in. She introduced herself to us and spoke about what she was planning to cover that year. She also told us not to hesitate but reach out to her if we had any questions. Thus, started my 9th grade math class.
Soon the entire class, including me warmed up to Nambikkai Mary miss. I was beginning to like both her and surprisingly the subject math. Furthermore never once did she punish any of the students. I wish I could recall her teaching style more. But all that I can think of her is the calm demeanor amidst the chaos in the class. I can recall that she was always patient and willing to help us whenever we had questions of any sort.
Back in 8th grade, if someone had told me that in college I would major in math, I would have never believed them. I now firmly believe that 9th grade was a turning point in my life, in a good way. Due to the new teaching style and my budding interest in math, I started getting good grades in math and went on to do major in math at college and pass with top grades.
I wish there were more such beloved teachers like that of mine. Then more and more children would realize their strengths like I did and excel in school. Whatever I am now is a result of the positive influence of Nambikkai Mary miss in addition to my dear parents who encouraged me in every step of my educational journey.
I am an example of how a teacher can play an important role in shaping a young student’s future. Here is to Nambikkai Mary miss and all the teachers who work hard every day to make a difference in a child’s life. We will not be where we are without you. Thank you for guiding and showing us the way to succeed in life!
Header image: shutterstock
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