Dubai: The Indian High School in Dubai on Thursday witnessed a rare farewell ceremony from a former student to a teacher who retired this week after 30 years of service.
The farewell of Paulson Thomas, head of the Commerce Department, was organised by none other than the CEO of the Indian High Group of Schools Punit M.K. Vasu, who was his student 26 years ago.
Paulson had the longest duration of service with the school group among four teachers who were honoured on Thursday after their retirement this week.
The school said it bid adieu to Paulson, who has been with the institution since 1991, with a heavy heart, but the warmest regards.
It said Paulson’s retirement followed “a long career of nurturing, mentoring and encouraging students”.
As a reflection of love and respect for his service, the school presented a keepsake that celebrates the bond and journey of decades together.
A special gift, a book titled The Sheikh CEO – Lessons in Leadership from Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, by Dr Yasar Jarrar was presented to him by the student-turned-CEO with a heartfelt handwritten note.
“It is not every day and in every organisation that a CEO bids farewell to a member of his own team who was in the past a mentor, guide, teacher and enabler,” said Punit, who became Paulson’s student when he was in grade 11 at the school.
“As CEO of the Indian High Group of Schools, I am honoured and privileged to bidding farewell to a person who did all of that – taught me and mentored me and enabled my journey of growth and success in life when he first taught me 26 years ago,” he said.
“I still remember being guided and led by him during our school’s convocation ceremony and him giving me so much of love and blessings and here I am now completing a full circle, walking once again as he graduates from our school to spend more time with his friends and family and wishing him well.”
On behalf of so many students whom Paulson has guided, Punit said he wanted to first say thank you to him for accepting the responsibility of being a teacher and inspiring him and so many like him to be who they are today.
“He accepted us exactly as we were then, and he led us to believe in ourselves, that we are capable of success and that we have it in us to reach the place he had probably dreamed for each of us. So, this is not a regular farewell. It is a farewell from a CEO to a long-serving member of our family, but deep down it really is a grade-12 student with all my awkwardness and gawkiness saying ‘thank you, sir’ from the bottom of my heart. And yes, the accounting and finance concepts that he so wonderfully taught me and still being put to extremely good use in my current role,” added Punit, who assumed office in December 2019.
Prior to that he worked as director of Strategic Programmes at Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority.
The special farewell offered moments of pride for Paulson who was touched by his former student’s gesture.
“It is often said that the crowning moment of a parent’s life is when the world refers to him or her as the “mother of or the father of a child.” One’s identity dissolves and is quite rightly superimposed by the identity of your child in the world. Quite similarly, the brightest moment of a teacher’s life is to relate to a special person and say “do you know who he is? He is my student,” he said.
“So for all in the field of education, and for me too in my mind, he [Punit] is our CEO but my heart says and says it with so much of pride that he is my student first.”
Paulson recollected what happened when Punit returned to school after being appointed as the CEO.
“He came over, gave me a big hug, touched my feet and took my blessings and it reminded me of how he was two decades ago and he still had the same love, respect and values.”
He took the opportunity to bless Punit to lead the school to all its deserved glory.
“On my retirement, the beautiful history that was left behind years ago, will make us switch places and this time he will be the one giving me a farewell. This indeed was the best parting gift any teacher could ask for. It is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I couldn’t have imagined it getting any better.”
“I still remember Punit and all his chatter, his inquisitive inquests, remarkable theories, and those occasional impish remarks. He was insightful and always believed in a better tomorrow and I can see his vision coming to life with IHS growing and becoming a happier place under his care. I am grateful for what he has done for me and all the other teachers,” he added.
The school also honoured the other three other teachers from the group who retired along with Paulson.
Susi Williams, Zayeda Ashraf and Nandini Parameswaran retired after completing 27, 23 and 14 years of service respectively with two schools under the group.
Zayeda, a teacher of commerce, worked with the IHS senior school in Oud Metha where Paulson also taught.
Susi Williams was the head of Maths Department and an assistant supervisor with the IHS junior school in Gharoud where Nandini also worked as the head of Science Department.
They were presented with a personalised memento, thanking them for their dedication and service.