by Chandima Samanthi Fernando
As a little child I am
drawn towards the laughter coming from the dining room. My mother is
conducting a class for some of her students at home. Each year they come,
a different batch of young people becoming familiar faces in our
household, seeking to be tutored in various subjects; History, English,
Sinhalese, Geography, Social Studies and more History. Her
storytelling and thought provoking style of teaching Sri Lankan and
European History has made her into an unforgettable teacher who has
brought characters to life in the minds of her listeners.
Growing up the
daughter of Mrs. Welgampola, I was blessed to have her guide and encourage
me in all my endeavors. She is my friend and confidant, my role model and
source of strength. My sister and I both knew that the term “my children”,
when used by our mother did not always refer to the two of us. All the students in her life
were her children, and she strived to give them her best, always taking
pride in their successes and achievements. She prepared with meticulous
perfection for each lesson and brought out the best in all her students.
Through the years I watched her take on responsibility after
responsibility and execute each giant task with flying colors. She became
an expert at planning and carrying out school events. Prize Day, Sports
Meet, Cultural Day, Religious Events, Fund Raisers, Carnivals, Food Fairs,
Dramas, Concerts, Graduation, Swimming Meet….the list goes on and on. She
has made all these events great successes and moreover memorable ones, at B.C, St. Nicholas’s and OIS. In her years as Headmistress of the Upper
School at Bishop’s College, she also mastered the art of making timetables
and rosters, and worked hard to ensure the smooth running of the
institution. Back at home, the neighbors, extended family and friends
brought their little toddlers to my mother to learn their first letters
according to tradition, and she gave her time and kindness to all these
people. In school she was well known for her broad mindedness, and
throughout her career she kept many a secret for both student and parent.
She went out of her way to make friends with the children from broken and
turbulent homes, quietly bringing them under her wing and leading them
down the path of healing and resolution. In her role as Vice Principal at St.
Nicholas’s, she put her heart and soul into absorbing the new curriculum
and did such pioneering things like building the computer lab there. With OIS, she started the school from the ground up,
as Principal from day one, making it into the popular school it is today in Sri Lanka. At the Teacher Training
she has taken her service to the next level, playing a key role in the
education of competent teachers in the country.
I am sure that all who know her well will agree that she is
truly a gift to all of us. In my perspective, one thing seems to stand
out, my mother achieves excellence through caring and commitment.