THE INSPIRING journey of a city-based educationist who moved from being a peon to a principal has earned him the state award for ‘Ideal Teacher’ with the government finally recognising his struggle of nearly 20 years.
For Principal Satish Gawali of Shivaji Nagar’s Modern High School, education has truly been the emancipator and it is a legacy that he hopes to carry forward.
Gawali, who was honoured for his innovative work as a school principal since 1998, recalls how his journey began in the year 1988 when he joined as a laboratory attendant. The son of a farmer from a tribal family in Indapur taluka, he says, he was forced to quit his education after Class X and take up a job on a monthly salary of Rs 900 to run the family. However, a firm believer in the transformative role of education, he decided to pursue his studies further later in life.
“I decided to continue my education through correspondence. When I got married, my wife got a clerk’s job in Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation and that’s what brought me closer to Pune. In the next 11years, I completed my post graduation with M.Ed and eventually, moved from being a peon to a teacher and later, became a principal,” he recalls.
After taking charge as principal, one thing has been clear to him — Academics are extremely important and no child should be left behind. This prompted him to take up the challenge of 100 per cent results. At the same time, Gawali says he believes in overall development.
“We need to develop their personalities and make them confident, they should never give up and also be conscious
citizens. Hence, from maintaining a robust scout guide programme— for which even Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an award— to maintaining an ayurveda garden with teachers and making paper bags to distribute near temples to raise environment awareness, students have been involved in everything,” says the 45-year-old academician. However, while pursuing these academic activities, he hasn’t lost sight of his goals – to give other children from less privileged backgrounds a chance to transform their lives through education.
“Every year, the teachers and I help at least 20 odd kids by buying them books, stationery, sponsoring their annual picnic, as we want to ensure that each child gets equal opportunity. But I know this is not enough, he says.
Gawali says his dream is to open an ashramshala, a school for poor children from tribal areas. “I am trying to get information from various government aid schemes to help realise my dream. I have a few students from such families who are MBBS doctors today, I can’t tell you how proud they make me feel. I want to have more such success stories,” says the teacher.
The other teacher from Pune to have received the National award is Vyankatesh Bhatane principal Gramprabodhini School.