Reformer Specialist Principal - Mr. Dunstan Fernando

Principal Mr. Dunstan Fernando certainly created a bright and a dignified “change” to Sri Palee’s outlook. Mrs. Fernando was a western music teacher and infused western music to Sri Palee students in such a smooth manner, there was no negative feedback but a positive appreciation right through. Her piano classes were very popular among the girls and she conducted the sessions in an inherited passion for western music. She saw to it that Sri Palee concerts were catered with a contribution of western music.

Mr. Fernando as a principal had the authority but he never threw the authority back at students but displayed rich quality and magnitude of his education. He had been a principal of few schools before coming over to Sri Palee.

He organized sports activities in a more methodical manner. He introduced a batch of prefects to Sri Palee in 1957. The first batch of Prefects at Sri Palee was a very novel experience for prefects, students and the teachers. It was a simple supervision exercise to infuse discipline and the behavior among the student population of the school. It too introduced basics of leadership building and strategies for supervision. The experience gained as a prefect in the student period will certainly act as a catalyst in your adult and professional life. I am ever grateful to Mr. Dunstan Fernando and other teachers for selecting me to be among the first batch of prefects. I can certainly confirm that this background helped me in my personal and professional life to attain more goals.

The unique way Mr. Fernando conducted English and Mathematics was with an unusual motivational package. Let me tell a long story in short : Mr. Fernando will write out a mathematical problem in the blackboard and request students to try the problem individually in their books. If anyone completes the excercise, you have to put up your hand to show that you have completed it. Then he will come to your table, check the working step by step – and if it is right : proclaim in loud voice “Amaratunga has done it! – Anyone Else ? Anyone Else?”. And he will wait for another student to answer. All the students are now working hard to complete the problem. Afterwards, he will work out the problem in the blackboard and complete a successful mathematical session. This motivation outlook was unique for us at that time.

Mr. Fernando was always attired in a light cream coloured suit, and was one of the well attired personalities at Sri Palee in that era. I can remember he had two kids and used to travel up and down in a Hilman Car. He introduced the basics of public speaking – by ice breaker exercise in arranging the prefects to speak in the morning at the school assembly / ”upasanaya”. Sir you have done an immense contribution for Sri Palee at large. In your period, education at Sri Palee was never dry. All students recall this as a bright period. Thank you very much.

In mid 2008, couple of us (old boys) had the fortune of visiting Mr. & Mrs. Fernando at their Lunawa Residence for the birthday party of Mr. Dunstan Fernando.

Dr. Jayaratne, Janaka Kumara, Gamini Jayasundara, Ranjith Senanayake and myself had an enjoyable evening as Mrs. Fernando introduced us to the other old pupils from different schools and their family members. We cut out a fine figure among the “other students” as we had a team from Sri Palee. Mr. Dunstan Fernando took several minutes to recall our names after Mrs. Fernando’s several clues. Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Fernando. Both of you are in our precious memory.

 

Last Updated on Friday, 25 December 2009 15:31