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Ghosh receiving a proclamation from Tallassee mayor Johnny Hammock on Monday

Ghosh retiring as one of Tallassee's best

By Michael Butler

After more than 28 years as a teacher at Southside Middle School, Mahua Ghosh is retiring. Tuesday, Nov. 24 will be her last day in the classroom.

"The best teaching is face to face," said Ghosh, responding to the new normal of teaching during a pandemic. "That's one of the reasons I'm retiring. The kids are being quarantined. A lot of the children are missing out."

Ghosh not only teaches at Tallassee but also with Alabama State as a member of the adjunct faculty.

"Now it's all online," she said. "It's a challenge."

Semi-retirement may be a more appropriate term for Ghosh's soon-to-be status. She will continue teaching on a limited scale via the internet.

Ghosh displaying flowers sent to her this week from her first class

A native of India, Ghosh spent her early years in Calcutta. She even had a chance encounter with Mother Teresa while there.

"I went to a school where every Christmas we would gather a lot of gifts for the orphans. She had one of the largest orphanages. They would pick a few students to go with the teachers. I saw this really tiny woman, so humble. Our teachers were more excited to see her. We were teenagers and didn't really understand how big she was and what she had done. All she said was like, 'thank you, thank you' for everything.

"Last summer I took my son and we visited her room where she died. She had just a single fan. She had one twin bed that was hard as a board. She had a desk with a chair and a cross in her room. That's all she had. They said when she died she only owned three saris, the Indian outfits. It's amazing how humble she was and what she did."

Ghosh visited the United States with her family during her youth. In addition, attending an English school relieved some of the culture shock of moving to the United States after marriage.

"I've been married for 33 years and been here for 33," she said. "He worked in Montgomery, so I did my Masters at Alabama State. I applied for jobs in four places; Autauga, Montgomery, Elmore and Tallassee City. This was the first job I got and took it.

SMS students with matching attire for the corresponding country they studied back in 2016 (left to right): Drew Richardson, Emma Bridgman, Georgia Anne Butler, Paige Bruner, Ghosh, Javier Favela, Camden Payne.

"It's been bittersweet memories. The love and respect that I've got from everybody in Tallassee is unfathomable. I can't thank people enough. I have a passion for teaching. I love the children. I know I'm a little tough on them, but that's how I am with my own children. They need to know what life is on their own."

Students gather around the table for "World Day" in 2016

Geography and Civics are the two courses Ghosh teaches. "World Day" is a long-running and popular tradition started by Ghosh.

"I've been to a lot of the countries I teach," she said. "World Day is a highlight. They pick a country of their choice and do research on it. They learn about the country, wear the traditional outfit and bring a dish from that country."

One of the most interesting dishes she has tasted featured Australia; crocodile meat.

"It tasted like chicken," Ghosh quipped. "They said they got it from a store here."

Ghosh was named Teacher of the Year for the 2019-20 school year at SMS.

"It was an honor. I'm thankful, but that's not what I'm (about). I just do my job and don't talk a whole lot about what I do. It just comes to the children. That's my satisfaction and pride and joy."

With extra time to do different things, Ghosh has plans.

"I think I can just kick back and relax, socialize with my friends, read books and travel once the COVID is not here."

Ghosh being recognized as Teacher of the Year by Tallassee City Schools superintendent Dr. Brock Nolin