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#ThankYouTeacher - Sharmila Ray has helped add many colours to her students' lives

This month we are presenting stories of teachers who have touched people's lives in many ways. Today's story is Sharmila Ray, an art teacher who has changed the lives of many. One of them is Anu Jain, who has been able to fulfil her aspirations to become an artist with Ray's help.

For Anu Jain, art not only brings immense happiness but has been a source of comfort in hard times. Born with a rare medical condition, Anu's arms extend until the elbows and her legs until the knees. Limited mobility did not come in the way of her vivid imagination finding expression on canvas thanks to her teacher Sharmila Ray who helped her channelise her creativity through different mediums.

Ray has been teaching art at the Fine Art Academy IIT campus, Kharagpur in West Bengal since 1991. Her approach is to look at each student's potential individually and nurturing them. This has worked wonders with many students, not just Anu.

I never saw Anu as a person with disability. My attention on her was the same as any other student and I wanted her to feel the same way about herself. Art is limitless and has no boundaries and that is the only way to make it a part of our lives - by breaking boundaries and looking beyond them. - Sharmila Ray Art Teacher

Being a wheelchair user, Anu could visit the academy only occasionally. Most of her lessons were at home. Ray would visit her at home two or three times a week. "Sharmila ma'am believes every child is uniquely talented and it is for the teacher to recognise what the child can excel at and motivate them", recalls Anu. In Anu, Ray saw a passion for art. "I saw that passion when I met her and decided to assist her in her pursuit of learning", recalls Ray. "I am proud of what she has achieved and wish her all the best in life."

With the able and patient guidance of her teacher, Anu was able to get a formal certification in art. She is now an established artist based in Bengaluru and makes a living selling her works and teaching art to children. A chapter of her life she finds deeply fulfilling. One that she has been able to write thanks to Ray. "I am grateful to Sharmila ma'am for her guidance and help that helped me truly realise my potential," says Anu.

Also Read: #ThankYouTeacher - Sister Meena is Goa's first special educator to win top state award

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