An exceptional teacher | Daily News
Gnana Munasinghe

An exceptional teacher

Three months after her demise, it is with a heavy heart and sadness that we put to paper some words of appreciation about the late Gnana Munasinghe (more senior students knew her as Gnana Jayathilake), retired teacher and Vice Principle of Southlands College, Galle. She left us on July 18.

Gnana Munasinghe was a living example of the nobleness of her profession. Not only was she a teacher, she was also a second mother and mentor to all students and staff of our College.

During our primary years, we remember Gnana Munasinghe as a neatly-dressed, smart teacher with great posture (not forgetting the ever-present neatly-folded handkerchief tucked into her waist) coming out of the hostel. She would carry a bunch of books and her handbag on her way to the office room whilst keeping a keen eye on the children and the surroundings.

She instilled a sense of awe to our young minds and we are sure there would have been many a young child thinking this is what I want to be and look like when I grow up. Although she looked very strict, she had a ready smile to any student she happened to meet on her way to the office room. Make no mistake, she did punish those who broke the rules; some of our knees will bear witness to that!

Eventually, as time went by, we came to realise that beneath her strict exterior bearing was a kind and gentle soul concerned about the welfare and wellbeing of all the girls in college. The house where she lived opposite the college was open to all of us who had classes or activities before or after school. At her house, we would change clothes, eat lunch, or do anything else that required a place outside the college. A word of thanks to Munasinghe who tolerated our noisy intrusion into his house with a kind smile.

There was many a student whom Munasinghe had helped personally and beyond the scope of her profession; the merit of which she would have carried to her final place of rest.

During the thirteen years of our college life, we remember Munasinghe who would announce the names of all the recipients of prizes and awards at the Annual Prize Giving Ceremonies. She would stand at the lectern reading out the names with her spectacles perched on her nose; all the while peering over the top of her spectacles at the line of us girls awaiting our names to be called. 

Munasinghe taught Sinhala Literature and Pali and formed the college Sinhala Literature Association. She was very active and inspired us to participate in many an activity such as drama, poetry, debates, and orations. During a particular “Kala Ulela”, she persuaded us to act as famous literary authors and it was both inspirational, educational, and fun.

Diligent, untiring, kind, and compassionate are some of the words that come to our minds when remembering Munasinghe. Thank you very much and farewell, Munasinghe. May she attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana.

GeethaSamarakoon,

KusumGamage,

And Sunferah Jabir