Ms. L.G. Lutter – my principal at Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls' Public School

Author: 
Rima Hooja

Dr. Rima Hooja is an alumnus of Maharani Gayatri Devi School, Jaipur. By profession she’s an archaeologist, historian, writer, and a distinguished academician. She’s a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. She is the recipient of the prestigious Maharana Kumbha Award, amongst others. Dr Hooja has served on various governing Boards and Councils. Her tome on the History of Rajasthan is the jewel in the crown of her copious writing. At present, Dr Hooja is Consultant Director, Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum, Jaipur.

In the years after leaving school, if one's school's name was asked, the next query would invariably be, 'What was it like having Miss Lutter as your School Principal?'‎ The question was as difficult to answer then, as now, as I didn't have a wide experience of school principals per se! Miss Lutter was the founder-principal of the Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls' Public School (the school's then full title - obviously abbreviated to MGD School, or simply MGD).

Ms. L.G. Lutter was the founding principal of Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls' Public School, Jaipur.

She had become Principal when the school started in 1943, with a handful of students; she was Principal when I first started school in the class known as 'Nursery' with Ms. Harding as our class teacher; and she remained Principal of the school when I left it after the ISC school-leaving exams several years later. For many like me, Ms. Lutter was a permanent part of our school life, and I never slowed down enough - or introspected enough - to ponder on what she was like as a teacher, an administrator, a leader and a mentor. Ms Lutter simply was Ms. Lutter - and all the above things rolled into one.

She was human, and she never thought she was infallible, but she was constantly aware of what being a teacher and a role model meant. She had headed a teachers' training institution in Burma (now Myanmar) until WW II forced her to join the many who trekked out of Burma to safety in India. She was Scottish (and she emphasised to the uninitiated, someone Scottish could also be referred to as a Scot, but not Scotch), and had been born in Burma, and educated in Burma and England, and was very much a product of that period of late Victorian - early Edwardian upbringing in Burma and the UK.

Upstanding, thoughtful, wanting to better the world without being patronizing about it, in the earlier days of MGD's existence‎, Ms. Lutter had taught also, but by my time in school, she only took occasional classes, and many what would now be called 'interactive sessions'. She was a hands-on principal, but she obviously delegated enough powers to the School’s senior teachers for us students not to feel any friction at any level. She encouraged discussions, she presided over school assemblies, she emphasised what 'Being on your Honour' meant, and she organised activities where students worked with their hands as much as with their brains.

On several occasions we juniors physically cleared pebbles and small stones from fields, while senior students dug trenches and carried head-loads. On a different note, one time we had exams for which we were 'on our honour' not to cheat. The teachers left the classes unsupervised. We did not cheat. That would have been a betrayal of Ms. Lutter, and the ideals MGD school stood for.

(Born and christened‎ Lilian Godfrieda, we never used those names in reference to her. She was Miss Lutter, not Ms. Lilian Godfrieda Lutter, nor Ms. L.G. Lutter, or even Ms. Lilian G. Lutter - just Miss Lutter).

That she was adored by many was never in question (though obviously in ways different to the school's collective adoration of Maharani Gayatri Devi, who had started our school with her husband, the Maharaja of Jaipur).

The ideals MGD School and Ms. Lutter had inculcated become clear to me with an incident I witnessed at her passing-away.

Rima Hooja is an alumnus of Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls' Public School, Jaipur.

Ms. Lutter's Bungalow was crowded, as were the lawns and spaces outside, with many mourning the death of a foreign-born Indian teacher, who had been awarded the Padma Shri and the British Order of the British Empire and Member of the British Empire awards. In the midst of all this, as the cortege was about to leave for the funeral, one of the school help (then called maid-servant), Dhanni-bai, ‎suddenly began to wail very loudly. Dhanni-bai was possibly Miss Lutter's own age, and had had a long spell in the school before her 'retirement' because of age. As Dhanni-bai broke down, one of the MGD alumni rushed up to her, enveloped her in a big hug and told her to calm down, as Ms. Lutter would not have like this. That the alumni was the grand-daughter of the late Maharaja Sawai Man Singh of Jaipur (co-founder of the school, along with his wife, Maharani Gayatri Devi), and a Princess in her own right, did not stop her from the spontaneous action of a good human being, because that is what Ms. Lutter had inculcated in her students - so many of whom were from aristocratic or princely backgrounds.

Miss Lutter had her favourites, and possibly had her foibles. The latter I did not learn about, and the former didn't really harm the rest, because Ms. Lutter's heart seemed large enough to take in even the lesser-favoured. Going to her room meant there were high chances of being offered a piece of toffee or a boiled sweet, unless someone had been particularly obnoxious - which was not common.

Looking back from the distance of some decades after leaving school, many things become open to analysis and critique, but it seems redundant to do that with school, school friends, some of the teachers, staff and help, and, of course, Miss Lutter.

Comments

Well written Rima
. She was a really wonderful person.

She built MGD into one of the best schools for girls in India.In the Jaipur of my times, she was a dominant figure.

I am also an alumna of MGD and your article brings back memories of my years there. It seems such a long time back but Ms. Lutter was certainly a amazing person!

She was and has been an inspiration to us and the values she inculcated have been passed on to generation to come through us being mothers of either girls or boys .....our utmost for the highest is what we still live by...thankyou jija for such a lovely write up about our Principal....

Well saidRima Jija ! We remember Our dear Miss Lutter with a proud heart always for inculcating good values to all MGDians ! You have brought up so many generations to come with each MGDian !
Your words say it all Ritu !

Beautifully written article on Miss Lutter...thank you ..she was a guide,philosopher ,n a great Principle ..we r so proud of her .

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