Published: 26th September 2019
This English teacher from Madurai planted 13,000 saplings to encourage his students to think green
Since day one as a teacher, Sivaraman has been working towards creating proper environmental awareness amongst children
When P Sivaraman says that he likes to treat children with respect and affection, he means it. The strong bond that this English teacher from Chittampatti Panchayat Union Middle School shares with his students outgrows the walls of a classroom. Most of them don't hesitate to even spend their holidays with him, when he plans short trips to teach history or science in the outdoors or when he asks them to accompany him to plant saplings across the district.
He has moulded a number of them in the past 15 years, into better individuals and most importantly into humans who care for the environment they live in. The 46-year old who started working as a teacher in Kottampatti in 2004 was transferred to Chittampatti in 2006. Since day one as a teacher, he has been working towards creating proper environmental awareness amongst children. He says, "I was born and brought up in Manapparai in Tiruchy. My school teachers always taught me about the importance of environment and plants in particular; we used to have practical classes on agriculture and farming. This made me an environmentally-conscious person as I grew up and when I started interacting with students, I taught them the same things my teachers taught me. The main motto was to involve students in planting more trees and make them root for a greener earth."
Sivaraman says that there were just 9 trees in the school's campus when he first came here and with the support of his students in all these years, he has been able to convert them into 180 trees. "We have also planted hundreds of trees closer to the entrance of the school. In the past 15 years, with the help of my students, I have planted over 13,000 saplings in Madurai district, in several places. I can assure you that at least 7000 of them are alive and have grown into big trees now. I keep motivating them to plant more trees, by presenting them saplings for occasions like birthdays or when a student completes the eighth class and leaves the school. I leave the choice of sapling to them," says the teacher.
A lot of them ask for trees like coconut and palm. "This year, a bunch of them had asked for sandalwood tree saplings and I made them available. I even go to their homes and check if they are taking proper care of the trees," he says. He has visited over 30 schools and few colleges in the past few years, in the districts of Madurai, Dindigul and Tiruchy, to conduct environmental awareness programmes. Though Sivaraman is an English teacher, he actively helps children develop their expertise and knowledge in various subjects. In 2013, when a lot of things were spoken about the popular ISON comet, he made presentations about it to children to make them understand how it disintegrated due to the sun's heat and tidal waves.
"This incident inspired me to buy a telescope for my students in 2015. Since then, whenever a celestial event of significance happens, we make sure to gather together and observe them in the telescope. In 2017, I also bought a spectroscope for the school which allowed us to learn about the spectrum of the sun," he shares. During holidays, he plans short trips with his students, to places in the outskirts of the city, to indulge in birdwatching. He says, "I believe that a majority of the learning always happens in the outdoors. As the quarterly holidays have begun, I am planning to take them to Arittapatti. There they can get to see plenty of new birds and observe their behaviour."