A teacher beyond the curriculum
For the old students of Don Bosco School, Egmore, their beloved school teacher Aloysius Marie Antoine Selvadoray will never leave them.
Selvadoray died recently in the city, prompting his students to recollect cherished memories about him.
They fondly refer to him as Master ‘Selva’.
Ram Narayan Hari Bhat, owner of the restaurant Mathsya, was one of his students in the 1980s.
“He was never strict with us; he inculcated discipline in a compassionate manner. He always looked beyond textbooks to recognise a student’s talent. He always encouraged us to take part in extra-circular activities,” recalls Bhat.
Bhat also recalls the day of his enrollment for class XI at Don Bosco. While many of the teachers opposed his entry due to his playfulness, Master Selvadoray strongly supported his admission, pointing out that schools are meant to shape raw talent.
“I was just not a student to him,” says Bhat. “He was my neighbour as well.”
Years later, when Master Selva relocated to Anna Nagar, Bhat too got a house there, further strengthening their bond.
Selvadoray’s second son, Louis Jude, was also a classmate of Bhat, and later, at Loyola College as well.
Don Bosco-ites remember Selvadoray not only for his teaching excellence but also for the strong sense of social commitment that expressed itself through his many initiatives.
The making of a professor
Born to a school teacher father in Singapore, 1928, Aloysius Marie Antoine Selvadoray was the eldest among seven siblings. He grew up in a multi-cultural milieu, where Chinese, Malays, Europeans and people of Indian origin mingled in British Singapore. During the Second World War, the Selvadoray family had separated, with his mother, along with his younger siblings, returning to India to safety, while his father remained with Aloysius and his younger brother to enable them to continue their education.
After the war, Aloysius was reunited with his mother in India.
Selvadoray lost nearly five years of his education to the war and was overage by the time he graduated from St Joseph’s College, Trichy. As a result, he could not pursue a career in the Indian Administrative Service. An astigmatic eye ruled him out for the Armed Forces too. He instead chose teaching as his career.
After a Bachelor of Teaching degree from Meston Training College, Madras, Selvadoray joined Don Bosco in 1962. Rev. Fr. Mallon, the then principal and rector, handpicked his teaching staff with care.
While he taught History, Geography, English and French to generations of students, Selvadoray’s real interest was instilling values in his students.
During his three decades at Don Bosco, he managed a balance between his teaching and administrative roles. As a teacher, he ensured he taught school-leaving batches, for a reason. It gave him the space and time to complete the process of moulding his student.
After official retirement in 1989, the Salesian administrators of the school made him in charge of the primary school, the first layperson to be given the position in the school’s history.
He was also instrumental in pioneering the pension scheme for the staff at Don Bosco.