Clayton Richard David

Mr. Clayton Richard David, Vice Principal at Gokuldas Public School, Kolkata, dreamt of being a teacher following his mother’s inspiration. His passion is visible from the fact that he has been teaching ever since he was in senior school. Read Mr. Clayton’s bittersweet journey from being a tutor, teacher and finally an administrator.

I am Clayton Richard David. From a very small age my mother inspired me to become a teacher. In a sense, my mother used to teach me Bengali when I was in Class I and she used to teach me so well that from my childhood itself I got interested in teaching. One day my mother took me to the studio, put a cap on my head, asked me to hold a book and asked the photographer to photograph me. That day, she told me that I looked like a teacher. So, she did make me visualize myself as a teacher. I think that is where it all started from…

When I grew up, I was admitted in a boarding school; over there, I used to teach Class I, II and III children in my free time. By the time I reached Class X, this activity matured into taking tuitions for students at a nominal fee.
Upon completion of Class XII from St Mary’s School, Kolkata, I began taking regular tuitions for children studying in Class X, XI and XII. Along with that, I used to take classes at a church for poor children. The priest there used to pay me a nominal fee for this.

One day, this priest, Father Joseph Kallukalam, suggested that I do my graduation. But, I wondered aloud as to how I would fund my education. Father Joseph demystified this for me and agreed to fund my education. So, thanks to him, I did my English Honors from IGNOU; after which, I did my B Ed from Naba Bharat Shiksha Parishad.
Later, I got a job at St. Andrew’s Public School, Kolkata. This school was headed by the Principal who had worked previously at La Martiniere for Boys. I worked under him for 3 years and learned a lot from him. After three years, I shifted to another school named Julien Day School, as an assistant English teacher.

After that, I did my MA from Veer Bahadur Singh Purvanchal University and then went on to pursue a course in Post Graduate Diploma in Education Management and Administration (PGDEMA), from IGNOU. I had also enrolled for a course from the Cambridge University, which I later dropped out of because of my job schedule, back then. I was working as an academic coordinator at that time.

Then, I went to Nasik and worked as a Vice Principal at Strawberry English Medium School. I was also at a school in Aurangabad as a Vice Principal. Then, I went to Himachal and became a Principal there at a school that had classes till Class VI.

Overall, I have gathered about 20-23 years of experience. I really love this field. I love not just to teach but to learn many things as well.

Current job as Vice Principal of Gokuldas Public School (GPS)

GPS is a 40-50 year old school, we have classes from LKG to Class XII and is affiliated to the CBSE board. Here, honestly, I find the students very weak in English. I have been here for the past 11 months. The most important aspect what I really enjoy is to teach students and to make them comfortable with the English language.
Currently, my 9 and 10 standard students are doing very well. Besides that I am taking care of the entire school. I make sure that the teachers are present in the classes and are not bunking them. I also ensure that the students are disciplined.

Parents come to me with a lot of problems. To them, I give advises on what they should do. Nowadays, I feel parents are more involved in their own businesses. They hardly take care of children. They simply put children into the hands of tutors. But that just isn’t enough. Parents should take care of their children also – it is their responsibility. It is important that they spend time with their children. I counsel parents and now, the parents and the management love me. By the grace of God, everything is running smoothly.

Difference between Principal and Vice Principal roles

The Principal and the Vice Principal can be compared to the President and Prime Minister of India. Both the roles are top notch. Having said that, the work of both these people are not exactly the same.
Usually, the work of a Principal and a Vice Principal, goes into the hands of the Vice Principal. The Vice Principal handles almost everything – the academics, the co curricular activities, the framing of classes for teachers.
The Principal is the person who delegates work that needs to be done. He/she ensures that work gets done. That is the difference between a Principal and a Vice Principal.

In some schools though, the Principal caters to all the work. The Vice Principal is not delegated any of the work. There are other schools where the Principals don’t part with any work and tends to criticize the person holding the role of the Vice Principal. Yet again, we have schools where the Principal gives due importance to the Vice Principal too; there are school where Principals delegate work with respect and seeks support.

The Principal and the Vice Principal together form the backbone of the school. But, the main contributor is the teacher. If either the Principal, the Vice Principal or both do not support teachers; if they don’t pay teachers on time, then the school will cease functioning.

I remember when I was a Vice Principal at an earlier school, teachers were not paid for two months because of the then CEO of the school. Teachers used to come to me with their woes. I used to feel bad for them but was most of the time helpless. There were times when even I had not received my salary. Since, I had money in the bank to fall back on, I could support myself; but not all teachers have had that kind of luxury. They would find it difficult to get food to their tables.

Then, one day, I brought myself to speak to the management enquiring what the issue was behind not paying the teachers their salary. The response I got was a very laid back reply stating that they would be paid after three months. I empathize with the teachers in front of the management and presented their woes. The management got angry with me stating that, me being the Vice Principal, should be supporting the management. I retorted saying that they had given me the responsibility to understand what is right and wrong in the school. At the end of the discussion they decided to pay the teachers their salary provided I leave the school. So, as a consequence of supporting 60-70 teachers, I lost my job and my son lost 6-7 months of schooling at that time.

This is the work culture at many schools in our country – paying teachers irregularly. If teachers are not taken care of, I wonder how we will have good schools and good teachers.

There are some deputy heads who don’t bother about their own jobs and fight it out with the management.
I feel it is not me but God that gives me the strength to fight it out. The funny part was when I had talked about the fees issue with the Principal before going to the management, he had asked me to keep my mouth shut, which means that he was paid. Some Principals are very smart that way. They fill their own pockets and bellies without being bothered about the teachers.

Well, as an academician, I was very strict and was particular that teachers must complete their work and teach well. I was particular that they take classes standing up rather than sitting down. Of course, you could sit down if you had health issues; but not when you are fit. I feel that teachers have their job because of students not just because of their qualification. So, as an academician I was strict; but otherwise I was very considerate.

In Himachal Pradesh, when I was working for this school called Suhana International School, I had the chairman of another school seeking admission for his daughter in my school. Per him, her current school, which he was chairing, were poor in academics – that school was only money minded. While admitting his daughter into my school, he complimented me saying that he took this decision only because I was administrator there. That was a rather proud moment for me.

Under my administration, all teachers used to do things on time and their money was also paid on time. Everything was running very smoothly. I left that school because there were around 6-7 people in the management, who used to keep fighting among themselves.

I like to open my own school someday

God has kindly blessed me with a lot of money and I am looking forward to opening my own school, where I can work towards imparting the best education.
If you want to start a school you have to take the license and the permission required. Once all such paper work is done, you get to start your school. So, if I have to start a school, I have to start it from scratch.

My plan is to open a pre-primary school to begin with; and then progressively evolve it into a primary school and venture into junior school and so on. I want to build the school in phases ensuring that success is met at each stage. I want the school to be peaceful and fulfilling for everyone working and studying in it.

I feel that the traditional style of teaching was good but nowadays we use a lot of technology. For example, schools teach robotics, etc. In my opinion, education must be upgraded and technology needs to be updated in order to support education. It is then that our students get to be compared to the students abroad.

Advice for young generation wanted to become teachers

I would advise him/her to get trained well before taking the plunge. This reminds me of a story.
I remember, when I got through my English Honors and approached a Principal requesting for a job, he advised to take my B Ed because that is when we know the techniques and methodology of teaching. Even when I said that I had already taught senior school children before taking up my graduation, I was told that training should be visible on paper as well. Then, I did do my B Ed by working in another school. I was disheartened then but today I am a fine teacher.
So, my advice to the youngsters is that the market is highly competitive and Principals today have no mercy and they just go by protocols. This is true for Vice Principals as well. So get trained and be confident.