School’s out for Kay Pillay

2015-08-04 06:00
Kay Pillay (left) along with his wife Paliga bids farewell to pupils at Rylands High School last week. Pillay will be retiring after spending his entire 37-year teaching career at the school.

Kay Pillay (left) along with his wife Paliga bids farewell to pupils at Rylands High School last week. Pillay will be retiring after spending his entire 37-year teaching career at the school.

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Thirty-seven years. An entire career.

This was Kay Pillay’s tenure at Rylands High School.

The school principal bowed out of his post (occupied since 1999) last week amidst high emotion.

At 62, still filled with vigour and enthusiasm, he feels up to the task of completing his duties until full retirement age in 2017, but just made the decision to retire.

“I didn’t plan this retirement,” said Pillay.

“(At) the end of last year, nothing was on the cards. Coming into this year, I just announced my retirement and it shocked the community. Everyone asked me the same question, to go to the end of the year ‘Why do you have to go (mid-year)? You have nothing (else) to do’. I said that once I announced it (the retirement), that it is only fair for me to go.”

Pillay’s career in education started before he even became a trained teacher.

He served as Risecliff High School’s secretary (in Chatsworth, KwaZulu-Natal) for three years before enrolling at Springfield College, also in KwaZulu-Natal, in 1976.

In 1978, he obtained his teaching diploma, specialising in accounting and economics.

Springfield College was also the place where Pillay met his wife Paliga.

The two would embark on a remarkable journey in 1979 when they both began teaching at Rylands High School.

“I know of no other school, I have started my career at this school and I am leaving after 37 years. It is a sad day. I have really committed, dedicated and very concerned staff,” Pillay pointed out.

“I am leaving on a good note with the school. The school’s results are exceptional. We haven’t gone below 95% (pass rate). I have a stable staff and the pupils as well. There is a small percentage, you know around 5%, of our children, if you could call them so-called ‘troublesome’ children, but we manage them and we are still glad to have them here. Our job is to teach and we love what we do.”

In his tribute held at the school last week, Pillay wished the school more success in the future and encouraged his pupils to make the most of what Rylands High had to offer.

“Many of our pupils do that, but there are a few who could take advantage of more opportunities. We (Rylands High) offer so much: Academic excellence, extracurricular activities, leadership opportunities, fundraising, the list goes on.”

He praised the parents of the pupils for their support over the years despite many challenges.

According to a statement by the school, Pillay has extraordinary traits.

“Among the most outstanding qualities he possesses, is the ability to knuckle down and focus on a task at hand, taking on challenges and difficulties surrounding such tasks,” the school states.

Pillay said that he had no immediate plans for his initial retirement, but hoped to travel, even though he admitted it would be difficult to make the initial adjustment to retirement.

“I love travelling. I have a grandson who will be turning one next month, so I hope to spend lots of time with him and I said to staff that it’s going to be very difficult to take Rylands High out of my system and they are more than welcome to contact me anytime, should they need my assistance, but I firmly believe that with the calibre of staff they have, they wouldn’t want my help, they will bring about a huge success in this school.”

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