Mr. Russel Guneratne : Botany & Chemistry Specialist

Mr. Russell Guneratne was our devoted Botany and Chemistry Teacher with St. Thomas background and a science graduate of the then University of Ceylon.  He was a very intelligent and a smart Gentleman of his day and was loved by all the students and the lady teachers too.  He was always dressed in pure white suite and handsome personality with a very attractive smile. He conducted Botany classes in perfect English with a flow like an European and was endowed with a gifted voice.

He helped the students in extra curricular activities by way of helping out to rig up models for Science Exhibitions and organized educational trips to Colombo Schools and Medical college exhibitions.

When Mr. P. V. Rajan – the Botany teacher left Sri Palee, he took over to teach Botany to the SSC (O/L) students. I recall a very personal incident of mine where I feel much happier to recollect even today an exemplarily manner, how Mr. Gunaratne used his discretion in an exemplary manner. When we were following his Botany classes, just after a year’s work (SSC prep.) - 1957, Mr. Helapitage introduced Applied Mathematics classes for SSC prep. I decided to cross over from Botany to Applied Mathematics – a subject that I was very keen to follow.  However, my interest in Botany too was a personal choice. I was enthusiastic and collected botany notes from my friends who were following Botany classes and followed up the subject content too.  At the right time for the applications for SSC Examination, I requested Mr. Russell Gunaratne permission to apply for the Botany paper for the SSC Examination.  He told me, “Although you are not in the Botany classes and as you have proven to me your continued interest in Botany by taking down notes etc. etc., if you qualify in the withdrawal test, I will permit you to apply for Botany”. That comment from Mr. Russell Gunaratne was a really a “Plus Point” in my life. Finally, I got through the Botany paper and think of him not only as a Teacher but as an exceptional charismatic Leader with a powerful personality.

Mr. Russell Guneratne persuaded students to study organic chemistry by taking a small effort each day. He showed the students organic chemistry can be very interesting and if the interest is developed, memory will automatically improve with subject content. This exercise was an insight to the students to minimize the difficulties to study organic chemistry.

He continued his studies and successfully completed entry to the Sri Lanka Education Service, and proved his mettle to Sri Lanka as the Commissioner General of Examinations during the period of 1991-93. We were proud to refer Mr. Russell Guneratne as our Botany Teacher. Mr. Russell Gunaratne had helped me in many ways even as at today by providing me with counseling and advice. He is still the same great teacher with a parental attitude in guiding and helping us.

I used to telephone him very often.  Other past pupils who visited him often were Dr. S.S. Jayaratne, Janaka Kumara, H.D. Dayananda, Dr. Upali M Senanayake, Dayananda Gallage, Sunil Galagedara. Jayasundara to name a few. His family members were in touch with some of us and sometimes they requested me to talk about old Sri Palee stories when we visit him at home. He too valued our company from the conversations we have had with him. His family members encouraged us to visit him at his residence during leisure.

When I visit his place, his son Sanjeewa at times requested me to come up with old stories from Sri Palee days and to revive the memories and to enjoy. He inquires from any past pupil who dials him, the whereabouts and details of other familiar students.

My family members join me - all the time to wish you Sir, all the best in life for you and your family.

Last Updated on Friday, 25 December 2009 15:29