On the 20th of July 2016, Johannians bade farewell to SJI’s third lay principal, Dr. Puvanendran Maruthavanar. It was a simple, yet memorable occasion, as the Johannian community celebrates the retirement of the third son of St. John’s who has had the privilege to lead our alma mater.
A very calm and composed commander-in-chief bidding farewell to Johannians
Wait, Dr. Puvanendran was a Johannian?
Believe it or not, Dr. Puvanendran was a student of SJI; not as long as our former Principal, Mr. Lim Hean Hwa, yet long enough for him to be acquainted with our heritage and to be part of our Johannian family.
Born on the 21st of July, 1956, in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, Dr. Puvanendran received his primary education in SK Jalan Kuantan, and was also schoolmates with HRH Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah of Perak. He then received his secondary education up to the Malaysian Certificate of Education in Setapak High School.
Dr. Puvanendran receiving HRH Sultan Nazrin during SJI's Speech Day, April 2016
Photo credits: Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia
HRH the Sultan of Perak pacing the halls of SJI accompanied by Dr. Puvanendran
Photo credits: Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia
Dr. Puvanendran then pursued the Higher School Certificate in SJI through the Federal Evening Class program, in which he completed with a full certificate in 1977. He was probably among the last batch of FEC students and who was lucky enough to witness St. John’s at its height under the leadership of the one and only Rev. Bro. Joseph Yeoh.
Dr. Puvanendran then went on to the Kinta Teachers’ Training College in which he received his teaching certificate in 1980. He then pursued his Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry at UKM in 1987, Master’s in Education at UM in 1993, and his PhD in the University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom in 2000.
Dr. Puvanendran served in seven schools between 1980 till 2004. In January 2005, he was posted to SJI as the Senior Assistant of Student Affairs. When SJI was made a cluster school in 2007, Dr. Puvanendran was sent to represent the school administration to undergo the Postgraduate Certificate for School Leadership & Management programme in King’s College, London. Upon his return in 2008, he was promoted to Senior Assistant of Administration and Curriculum.
With a doctorate in Information Technology and experience as the head teacher in IT at SMK Putrajaya 1, Dr. Puvanendran was instrumental in the establishment of the second Smart Lab and ensuring that SJI was keeping up with the latest technology in teaching methodology. One such example was the introduction of smart boards, which eventually was not fully utilized sadly.
After a seven-year stint in SJI, Dr. Puvanendran was promoted as Principal of SMK Taman Yarl, Kuala Lumpur. At that time, we felt saddened that we lost the service of a very dedicated administrator and teacher. However, this was to be only a temporary farewell.
May 2014 saw the retirement of Mr. Lim Hean Hwa, a Johannian who had the privilege to serve his alma mater just like his Director, Rev. Bro. Joseph Yeoh. After weeks of waiting in anticipation, SJI was delighted to receive the news that Dr. Puvanendran was to be the successor of Mr. Lim Hean Hwa to lead SJI.
Dr. Puvanendran listening to his 'ucap jasa'
Just like his first return to SJI, Dr. Puvanendran was very quick in getting straight to work. He emphasised on the use of IT in teaching and learning in SJI and made sure that Johannians are kept abreast with the latest technology in school. Notebook computers were used widely, smart boards reintroduced, and a plan to provide comprehensive internet coverage throughout the school premises was drawn up.
After two years of service as Principal, SJI bade goodbye to Dr. Puvanendran as he reached the mandatory retirement age of 60. Throughout his nine years of service in SJI, Dr. Puvanendran is fondly remembered as a strict disciplinarian who had a charming aura in commanding respect from students, teachers, and management. His persona exhibits great wisdom and composure that he rarely needs to resort to physical punishment for students who commit disciplinary offences. Whenever he paces the hallways of SJI, he commands respect and admiration from those in his surroundings.
Dr. Puvanendran is also widely remembered for short and simple speeches. He makes sure that he delivers his message in a very concise manner and avoids addressing the assembly unless it is very necessary. This helps a great deal in keeping the assembly on time and makes the message delivery very efficient. His signature is the deep booming voice in greeting SJI ‘Good morning’.
The last address to Johannians as Principal
The most important event that took place under his administration was the reverting of the name SMK St. John to St. John's Institution. The good news was announced by none other than HRH Sultan Nazrin during SJI's Speech Day back in April this year. It was a very historic and proud moment for all Johannians when HRH the Sultan broke the news to the audience.
Personally, it was a great honour to work with Dr. Puvanendran during his tenure in SJI. Like Mr. Lim Hean Hwa, Dr. Puvanendran is very easy to work with and is ready to listen to opinions before making any decision. However, the one trait I find most unique and commendable of Dr. Puvanendran is his ability to keep his cool despite being faced with issues on multiple fronts. This is a skill not many leaders have, and to be able to be alongside one with such quality is an experience to be cherished.
On behalf of Johannians, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Puvanendran for his dedicated service to SJI all these years. It is our hope that Dr. Puvanendran be blessed with good health and visit us in SJI from time to time.
Dr. Puvanendran cutting the farewell cake. On his immediate left is his spouse, far right of photograph is Pn. Nor Laila Lambak, former Senior Assistant 1
Presentation of the vintage metal chair by Tuan Megat Mizan Nicholas Denney,
Chairman of the Board of Governors
Thank you very much and all the best in your future endeavours, Dr!
A send-off fit for a king.
Photo credits to Jenko Chugani (except photographs with HRH the Sultan of Perak and the final photograph)