Friday, September 6, 2013


Every educational institute has those teachers – the special ones – “The rare diamonds” as I’d like to say. Those who truly teach you, enable you to learn, those who inspire, those who command a heightened level of respect, those who open your mind to new worlds, new possibilities and new options, those who compel you to be the BEST POSSIBLE you! They are rare, but they exist! And if you've ever had such a teacher, you are LUCKY!

And from what I know, there are possibly one or two teachers in the history of every educational institute – Be it an IIT, IIM, your convent school, a private school or a Government school in India. Those teachers whose name, lessons and memories will stay with the vast majority of the student base..... till the very end.

If you are a Cluny alumni, you will agree that Ms Mary Fernandez is one such teacher!

Ms Mary Fernandez has been a school teacher at Cluny Convent High School, Bangalore for decades Going down memory lane, she was part of the school when I joined in early 1980's and she was with the school till a few years back - when she retired. She has been indeed one of the most inspirational teachers for students in the history of the school.

Ask any Clunyite who studied here during this tenure, and Ms Mary’s name will top the list for one of the teachers whom they will always remember, and who made a "REAL" difference in their lives. For many of us, it was a combination of fear, deep respect and awe at her personality (especially her voice, gaze and many times just her sheer presence), quest for excellence and knowledge in various subjects which summarize our feelings while we were students.

During her tenure here, Ms Mary has primarily taught High School classes (8th to 10th standard) – Biology and English Literature. And trust me! Back then (early 1990’s), ICSE English Literature was NOT easy – It included profound poetry, several original Shakespeare’s original stories (For e.g: Merchant of Venice, Julius Caesar) and several Short stories by famous globally renowned authors / writers. Looking back, those who attended her English Literature classes had the good fortune of a very strong foundation in English language. Her Biology classes again were detailed and thorough; and the demand on lab-work was way beyond common averages. And most of us developed / enhanced / perfected our biology knowledge / “drawing” skills / art-work as her students. 

Ms Mary pushed everyone to give their best, and most of us showed significant improvement in both these subjects while we were her students. Of course! We all cribbed with her demands and expectations, but today looking back – I don’t know of anyone who’s not thankful for being her students and for the role she played in our learning, growth and development.

Beyond the classroom, she was an excellent basketball player. And if you have been coached by her, your basketball skills were bound to “A” grade. Under her coaching, the school won several laurels (zonal, district and state level) in Basketball tournaments. Today, I respect her even more because I am yet to come across any teacher who were able to teach Science, Literature and Sports to perfection as she did!

As a Teacher's Day tribute, I dedicate this post to Ms. Mary Fernandez

When someone asks me how I write so well and so fast, and I look back to connect the dots of my life - I know in my heart that she played a role in developing my literary skills

When I can sit and enjoy a piece of poetry in silence,  and I look back to connect the dots of my life - I know in my heart that she played a role in developing my flair for poetry

When my poems and writing are published, and I look back to connect the dots of my life - I know in my heart that she played an important role in my writing journey by laying a strong foundation of English basics

When I push myself for excellence and perfection in what I do, and I look back to connect the dots of my life - I know in my head and ears I can hear her voice faintly ringing pushing me to give my best

When I make a pencil sketch and someone compliments me for it, and I look back to connect the dots of my life - I know in my heart that she played a role in making those drawing the best possible they can be

When I recall with amazing clarity, basics of high school Biology and I myself am shocked with my recall, and I look back to connect the dots of my life - I know in my heart that she played a role in making me understand and remember those Biology lessons

When I shoot a basket (even today) in the basketball court and some one says "Wow", and I look back to connect the dots of my life - I know that I can shoot a 3-pointer to perfection (sometimes) because at some point she was my coach in basketball

When I look at the students of today and see that they don't have the good fortune of having a teacher like Ms Mary Fernandez - I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to study at Cluny, and to have Ms. Mary Fernandez as my teacher for so many years of my life.

Thank you Ms. Mary Fernandez - for making a difference in the lives of Clunyites!
Best wishes for Good health, Happiness and Peace.


  1. well written Nischala and i am sure that hundreds of us who had the good fortune of being her students and mroe so being taught by her -know what a difference she made to all of us and is still making.
    Dr Meenakshi Bharath -class of 73 from cluny convent.Malleswaram ,Bangalore

    1. I agree completely. I don't see many teachers like her around, and now that I am a mother too, I think we were indeed lucky to be her students. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Nischala

  2. Very well written and thanks for posting this wonderful acknowledgement to a well deserved teacher, Nischala. Ms Fernandez is indeed an amazing teacher. She knew the art of communicating with us during our prime teen years (14-16 years). She genuinely cares for her students and she has done a fabulous job of who we are today.

    Sumathi, Class of 1982, Cluny Convent, Malleswaram, Bangalore

  3. A very well compiled acknowledgement to an epitome of professional excellence and human elegance.

  4. A very compiled tribute to Ms Mary fernandez who desrves the recognition for being an epitome of professional excellence and human kindness