At St Joseph’s Convent High School, 8 teachers stand the ‘test’ of time

Published: September 16, 2011
Aileen Soares, Sabra Siddiqi, Nilofer Minhas, Seema Yousuf, Qaseem Fatima, Shireen Afzal, Zaibunissa Sikandar, Nuzhat Sattar, Gulnaz Mondegarian pictured with Sr Julie and Naseema Kapadia. The domestic staff honoured included Sadiq, Taj, Rashid, Javed, Jamil, Mushtaq. PHOTOS NEFER SEHGAL-EXPRESS

Aileen Soares, Sabra Siddiqi, Nilofer Minhas, Seema Yousuf, Qaseem Fatima, Shireen Afzal, Zaibunissa Sikandar, Nuzhat Sattar, Gulnaz Mondegarian pictured with Sr Julie and Naseema Kapadia. The domestic staff honoured included Sadiq, Taj, Rashid, Javed, Jamil, Mushtaq. PHOTOS NEFER SEHGAL-EXPRESS

Aileen Soares, Sabra Siddiqi, Nilofer Minhas, Seema Yousuf, Qaseem Fatima, Shireen Afzal, Zaibunissa Sikandar, Nuzhat Sattar, Gulnaz Mondegarian pictured with Sr Julie and Naseema Kapadia. The domestic staff honoured included Sadiq, Taj, Rashid, Javed, Jamil, Mushtaq. PHOTOS NEFER SEHGAL-EXPRESS Domestic staff Sadiq expressing his joy after being recognised by the school for his 25 years of service. PHOTOS NEFER SEHGAL-EXPRESS Sr Zinia Pinto presenting Sabra Siddiqi with a bouquet. She joined in 1958. (Inset) Sadiq. PHOTOS-NEFER SEHGAL-EXPRESS Aileen Soares and Rukia Fikree. PHOTOS: NEFER SEHGAL/EXPRESS

Margaret’s eyes crinkle with joy as she remembers her first Math class with Aileen Soares in 1961. “She walked into class and start solving problems on the board whether we were paying attention or not. After working out the entire sum, she started erasing the board. So if you hadn’t been paying attention, boy, you were in big trouble.”

The subject of Margaret’s fond memory was one of eight teachers honoured by the school, St Joseph’s Convent, at a ceremony on Thursday, postponed by a day or so because of the rains. Miss Soares turned up in her finest — a flamingo silk blouse, black skirt and signature broach from her famous collection. She was ambushed by former students and colleagues who had come to celebrate her golden jubilee.

At her side was the legendary Sabra Siddiqi who chose a calm, purple floral print for the day. Her brilliant white hair, as always, was neatly parted and tied in a loose plait. They were joined by the teachers celebrating their silver jubilees: Nilofer Minhas, Seema Yousuf, Qaseem Fatima, Shireen Afzal, Zaibunissa Sikandar, Nuzhat Sattar and Gulnaz Mondegarian.

Art teacher Ambreen Qureshi recalled her first class with Miss Siddiqi. “She was so smart, pretty and articulate – unlike other Urdu teachers who always have a stern look on their face,” she said. “Miss Siddiqi always had time to explain meanings and was a wonderful teacher.”

Miss Siddiqi’s voice started to tremble as she remembered the first class she taught. “I wasn’t nervous you know, if you ask the class they would tell you that they enjoyed it more than I did,” she told The Express Tribune on the sidelines of the ceremony. “Urdu used to be such a problematic subject and now everybody loves it. Teachers from other schools and colleges always tell me that girls from our school are the best. It always warms my heart.”

The celebrations began at 10am, an hour after mass. Parents and former and current students, dressed in their finest and brightest, were led inside the main hall by teachers and prefects in blue gowns. The sound system was being tested while everyone found a seat in the rows of chairs draped in red velvet and spotted with flowers lined in glittery gold. The former school headmistresses, Sister Zinia Pinto, Sister Dolores Anne and Sister Dias, were seated in the front row followed by their colleagues. The nuns hovered around the hall, asking the younger girls to remain quiet. English Literature teacher Faiza Kazi’s crisp voice brought the activity in the room to a halt as she began the morning by congratulating the domestic and teaching staff for their extraordinary contribution to the school.

The Cambridge section headmistress, Naseema Kapadia, welcomed everyone to the event and asked them to observe a moment of silence for her predecessor, Shafiqa Fikree, who passed away in 2009. She then proceeded to rhetorically ask how the outstanding women produced by the school had reached the top. Her answer was simple. It was the institution. “Dedicated teachers like Aileen Soares and Miss Siddiqi are not ordinary people. They have unparalleled communication and teaching skills which keep the school going.”

The eight teaching staff members were presented with white hydrangeas and marigold flowers, small awards and a folder of messages from former students.

A video presentation tribute produced by the senior Cambridge class 11 was shown after the awards were distributed. The video was filled with old photographs, messages from former students and interviews of the teachers – tears of joy and nostalgia left no eye dry in the hall.

Sister Julie Pacheco presented awards and garlands of roses to the domestic staff who had completed 25 years of service as well. An excited Sadiq, who has worked for the school since 1972, said that it was special as he was being honoured by the school on the same day he had joined its service, a Thursday. Indeed, the Daughters of the Cross, students and teachers hope that many more Thursdays will come.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2011.

View a slideshow of pictures from the ceremony here.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • Ahmed Ali
    Sep 16, 2011 - 8:18AM

    I am one of the oldest subscribers of ET since its lauch, but yet could not understand why only st joshep school is being given such an importance, why not others schools. Is anyone teacher of the school is woking at ET


  • xOYA
    Sep 16, 2011 - 9:09AM

    I Miss my School Days at St.Joseph’s School .
    Miss u all my dear Sisters & teachers


  • Naseema Kapadia
    Sep 16, 2011 - 12:25PM

    Re the comment as to why only SJC articles appear in the Tribune. may I answer that the Dawn of 16 September 2011also has an article and there must be reason for that The school is one of the oldest institutions in the country that has provided some of the most outstanding women of the country . It is 150 years old
    Thank you


  • Shehlah Zahiruddin
    Sep 16, 2011 - 2:12PM

    Hi Mrs. Kapadia! You taught me in Class 6 way back in 1986s – we were also your first batch that dropped embroidery and began “computers” complete with ACs, carpets and no shoes! What about your 25 years (or more?) :) Ms. Soares looks very nice on her special day but Ms. Siddiqui has lost a lot of weight. I wish you all the best of health and happiness. Both the teachers wouldn’t believe (if they remembered me) that I run my own business, do my own math and am completely in love with urdu literature. Thank you SJC and thanks to all the dedicated teachers who have moulded us into what we are today.


  • Arsalaan Haleem
    Sep 16, 2011 - 5:12PM

    @Ahmed: SJC is the only one covered by ET. Saint Patricks was also given quite a good coverage a few months back. And I should know ’cause I am a former alumni of SP.


  • Minahil Danyal
    Sep 16, 2011 - 7:48PM

    congratulations to Miss Siddiqi and Miss Soares on completing their 50 years in St. Joseph’s and to all the jubilarian’s. Miss Siddiqi and Miss Soares and exceptional women; have dedicated their lives to enlighten students.I am their student right now and I am truly honored and proud to be one .They are two women who are truly generous,and i would love to thank them for being lovely teachers.


  • Fiza A.Khan
    Sep 16, 2011 - 8:32PM

    It so lovely to read about ones Alma mater . Teachers of SJC have been the most dedicated teachers I have ever come across. So proud of my school. Such a beautiful school. It was home away from home.


  • Sana
    Sep 17, 2011 - 1:32PM

    @Ahmed Ali:
    It is newsworthy when a teacher, any teacher of any school, has taught at that institution for half a century. I’m sure other institutions are also newsworthy and I’m sure they will also make their way into the Trib. However, St Joseph’s Convent School, Karachi, is such an amazing, unique, special institution that its mention in a newspaper article is neither surprising nor should be seriously undermined. It is a bastion of tolerance, scholarship, safety, care and hard work, and should be upheld as a role model for all other educational institutions around our country. If other schools and colleges followed even half of the mission, care, tolerance and love of learning that this school exemplifies, our society wouldn’t suffer as it does some times.

    I wish you will join me and other alums in honoring the dedication of the amazing teachers mentioned in this article. They are true examples of dedication, self-sacrifice, intelligence and hard work.


  • Sarah Fariduddin
    Sep 17, 2011 - 8:35PM

    I fail to understand why Miss Nefer Sehgal has only chosen to write about the Cambridge teachers in such detail. What about Mrs.Gulnaz, Mrs. Afzal of the primary section? What of Mrs.Sattar and Mrs.Sikander of the Matric section? Was their presence not worth a mention?


  • Sarah Fariduddin
    Sep 17, 2011 - 8:36PM

    Miss Tooba Masood* I beg your pardon.


  • fizzah
    Sep 18, 2011 - 2:00AM

    @Ahmed Ali:
    cause st joseph has everything u need to be proud of!
    no other school has kept up its tradition more than us!!!


  • Sheima Baig
    Sep 18, 2011 - 9:49AM

    It is with great pleasure that i read this dedication to the Teachers of St Josephs. What an honour it has been to have studied at this school. One can recognize a “St. Josephian” anywhere, the teaching and training has been impeccable and has been a source of Pride which has carried me throughout life! (1964)


  • Letitia Pinto
    Sep 18, 2011 - 4:27PM

    Congratulations……to all you wonderful people who celebrated your Golden & Silver Anniversaries…….I miss u all
    It was fun being under your guidance while I studied through and then whn i came back and became your collague
    A big salaam to all you domestic staff……you all too were the pillars of SJC making sure all the children were looked after.
    God Bless you All with good health so you can continue this work.


  • Sadiah Ahsan Pal
    Sep 18, 2011 - 8:02PM

    Hats off to St Joseph’s and its wonderful dedicated teachers. I attended this dignified celebration along with my other class fellows (1977) & my elder sister (also ex SJC). We felt like the young girls we were back then. It was such a pleasure to see the school, our teachers especially Ms Soares, Ms Siddiqui, Sister Zinia, Sister Margaret, Ms Fikree, Ms Kazi…Wonderful women who have moulded so many women of substance through this school….A well deserved tribute! Long live & God Bless


  • Naila Parveen
    Sep 18, 2011 - 10:25PM

    I was first taught by Ms Soares in 1976 in ninth class. She made math so much fun, giving challenging questions to those who finished early and keeping such a fast pace that was amazing. She would stand at the back of class and finish checking home work while we struggled with our assignment on hand. We had no formal accelerated programme but I commend her for teaching the whole class at different levels at the same time. Only a great teacher like her could have done it and I am sure still doing so year after year. Wishing her health and happiness always…


  • Ayesha
    Sep 20, 2011 - 5:05PM

    @Ahmed Ali:
    That is because it is one of the oldest and finest schools, that has taught many generations of girls to be confident and successful women in the real world. Honour and Glory to our School!


  • salma hamid
    Oct 2, 2011 - 7:50PM

    i did my matric from SJC in 1976, miss Soares was the best maths teacher, i was bad in maths but she was so patient with me. i love her. can anyone please tell me where mrs Thawer is ? and miss salemi (physics) miss Fatehali (chemistry). mrs louis, mrs faheem(biology) miss anwara sheikh? miss fikree? such wonderful teachers.
    if any of my friends, specially ernisteen dsouza, mary lu, winnie dsouza, lucy, samira shafi come across this would you please write to me on my email address?


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