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Tuesday, 19 September 2017 | MYT 12:00 AM

Retired teacher gets star treatment at reunion

A WELCOME befitting a VIP – that was how Freddy Eravelly, 81, who once taught at the Government English School (GES) in Port Dickson, was greeted by 20 of his former students at the Royal Selangor Club (RSC) in Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur.

Now in their 70s, the group of Dixonians came from as far as Seremban and Port Dickson to meet him. The last time they met was 60 years ago.

To commemorate Malaysia Day, they waved the Jalur Gemilang as soon as their favourite maths teacher arrived.

“Oh my!” was all the overwhelmed Eravelly could muster.

The organisers behind this gathering were Ecoworld Foundation trustee Philip Mathews, retired Radio Televisyen Malaysia technician S. Munusamy and former RSC president Teng Mui Ngee, who were Eravelly’s star pupils.

The retired teacher said he could still recall how Munusamy quipped he would take the taxi instead when Eravelly warned he would miss the bus to the upper class if he did not buck up. That was when promotion from one form to another was not automatic but based on merit.

Eravelly broke the ice by playing a numbers clapping game where players had to respond if their numbers were called out. Those who missed their cues had to give an account of themselves since leaving school.

Eravelly (seated eighth from left) as a fresh teacher just out from training at the Government English School in Port Dickson in the early 60s.
Eravelly (seated eighth from left) as a fresh teacher just out from training at the Government English School in Port Dickson in the early 60s.

On what had endeared this secondary maths teacher to them, Datin Nur Alis Abdullah remembered him as a dedicated teacher who started service when he was just 19 years old.

Eravelly was known for his creative delivery. To impart the concept of how much one million ringgit was worth, he likened it to counting the seconds for seven and half days without eating and sleeping, instead of merely saying it was a seven digit number.

“I taught maths by using the touch-and-feel method because I realised children would not be able to understand mathematical concepts if they could not relate it to their own experiences,” said Eravelly, who went on to train teachers at Maktab Perguruan Ilmu Khas (now Institut Pendidikan Guru Kampus Ilmu Khas) after his stint at GES.

Eravelly also authored supplementary books for the primary level on operational numbers and sets for a special education recovery programme under the Education Ministry.

Eravelly was also the Sea Scouts master who took his students to picnics and movies.

“He was fun but firm. He took the trouble to come down to our level to connect with us,” said Tan Hoe Soon.

The other attendees were Datuk T. Selventhiranathan, Thong Wah Kee, Saras Suppamah Kesavan, Pritam Kaur, Jaswant Singh, A.Rajammah, Yap Yoon Moi, Bella Yogabathe, Shahari Mohamed, Jaafar Amin, Dr R. Perumal, Lazar Aziz, B. Venugopal and Soh Guat Cheng.

The Dixonians organise reunions with former classmates and teachers every three months.

They hope to organise another gathering for Deepavali.