Green Teacher Award
Spirited educator, environmentalist and inspirational activist
K.S. Smitha has been leading her students to the tunes of conservation and she spares no opportunity to take her students out of the classroom to explore and marvel at the beauty of nature.
Despite having grown up in the bustling city of Kolkata, Smitha’s childhood memories are tinged with green. Smitha’s father, a flora enthusiast, swore by green spaces and their home was a miniature sanctuary for an assortment of urban wildlife. Her father though, was not just gifted with a green thumb, but also the spirit of an activist, a legacy he passed on to his daughter. It was this atmosphere during her formative years that bestowed young Smitha with a sense of wonder that has lasted her all life long.
Smitha’s passion for the wild coalesced with her love for children in 1997, the year she chose teaching as her profession. Ever since, Smitha has been an affable pied-piper, leading her students to the tunes of conservation. Having built a green army, she spares no opportunity in taking her regiments of future green activists out of the classroom to explore and marvel at the beauty of nature. In order to fulfill her fundamental agenda of connecting children with nature, she has created multiple nature clubs for her school. Smitha, along with her students, has even led an agitation against the city municipal corporation when it decided to bulldoze dozens of trees for a road-widening project. She petitioned, rallied and took concrete steps to stop the rampage.
With the inception of Kids for Tigers, Smitha became a school coordinator, proactively promoting the cause of tiger conservation. Known as ‘The Tigress’ of the M. P. Birla Foundation Higher Secondary School, Kolkata, she has spearheaded a number of nature programmes from ‘Tiger Fests’ to rallies, plantations and quizzes, ensuring a curriculum steeped in respect for the natural world. A woman of compassion and action, amongst her many initiatives was a campaign that supplied children living in villages around the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve with educational supplies. Through this project, she also succeeded in building a rare bond between city children and rural children. If nothing else, this undertaking is proof of Smitha’s devotion, not only towards the environment but towards the children of tomorrow as well.
As myopic and gluttonous leaders squander away our natural resources for their individual agendas, Smitha has taken on the monumental task of raising an environmentally conscious generation. Always leading by example, her passion, even after 20 years of service, shines bright. Neither time, nor tragedy has fazed this determined green teacher. While the world talks about leaving a better planet for our kids, Smitha has been quietly nurturing better kids for our planet.
And for this, we honour her.
First published in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXVII No. 12, December 2017