“Small gestures can sometimes go a long way in shaping one’s life. My intent to become a teacher, similarly, was born from a rather unexpected act of kindness, 30 odd years ago, by one of my school teachers! It happened one evening when I was standing cluelessly in the bus stop, not knowing how to get back home. I was very young and usually travelled with my sister, who got held up in a tournament that specific day. But seeing a young student alone in the street, this ma’am who wasn’t even my faculty, voluntarily opted to travel with me all the way to my house that was located 6 kms in the opposite direction and ensured I reached safely before proceeding her way.
Now this might be a very small incident but for a young Maalathi, it defined what an ideal teacher should be like. And that moment further became my anchor to venture into the teaching profession in an attempt to fuel my passion of guiding the youth.
Nevertheless, right in my first few years I noticed a major gap in all the leading schools. The influence that a teacher had in shaping up the forthcoming generations was often overlooked in the quest to push students to get marks. And this was alarming, especially since children spent a whole lot of their formative years in these institutions. So no wonder it would mould their behaviour as adults as well and therefore needed a change.
So, realizing this, I went ahead and took a step that was rather unheard of- requesting a transfer as a kinder-garden teacher! It was a gutsy move but one that has enabled me to impact thousands of students since. Today, I work as an international educational counsellor with multiple institutions, conducting workshops for principals, faculty members and parents equally. Besides this, after having gone through my fair share of financial troubles, marital split, and life as a single mother, I also run a trust which provides alternate working opportunities for other single parents in this field.
And what keeps me going strong till date is often the feedback I get from my former students. One instance was where I received a text from a student 25 years post her schooling on how she had fulfilled her promise to me by taking care of her mother and settling her specially-abled sister. Astonished, I enquired, only to realize that I’d advised her during her second-grade PTA meeting to be supportive of her family and that she’d subsequently kept up this childhood promise until her mother’s last breath. I mean, what could be a bigger reward for a teacher than realizing that her words could indeed have such an impact, right?”