A mediocre teacher explains.. A great teacher inspires

Mr. C. J. Oorloff

Mr. C. J. Oorloff (1957 – 1968)

When the previous Principal, Mr. N. S. Walter, began to feel that it was time for him to return to England, his first task was to ensure a suitable succession. His choice fell on Mr. C. J. Oorloff, at that time, Principal of Wesley College, Colombo.

Mr. Oorloff was, of course, no stranger to Trinity. Although he went to school at Royal he had been born and brought up almost within our precincts and even lives there still on his visits to Kandy. On graduation Mr. Oorloff came home, as it were, when he joined the staff in 1930; but unfortunately, like so many after him, he could not resist the lure of the Civil Service, a decision which we suspect he regrets except perhaps, for a nostalgia for Hambantota which he shared with another Civil Servant, the late Mr. Leonard Woolf. His broken connections with Trinity were, however, somewhat renewed when he married the sister of three brothers who were Trinitians.

In 1949 Mr. Oorloff quit the Civil Service, though well on the way becoming a Permanent Secretary, to accept the post of Principal of Wesley. There he spent seven fruitful and happy years before succumbing to the temptation of returning at last to his real home. Mr. Oorloff’s period of office as Principal of Trinity is the second longest in the history of the school, second only to that of Mr. Fraser, whose era was, however, nearly twice as long. These years were years of consolidation after the frantic pace that had been set by Mr. Walter. Trinity settled down to a quiet and sound if unspectacular progress which carried the school through on an even keel despite all the political and educational upheavals of the time. When Mr. Oorloff handed over the school to Mr. Lionel Fernando on the 1st of October, 1968 he handed over a school that was slowly but surely adjusting itself to the new conditions.

Mr. Oorloff’s chief strength lay in a quiet, dignified integrity that was probably the most desirable characteristic that a Principal needed in times like his. No bitter involvement in raging controversy, no rash commitments, no yielding to public hysteria but an unobtrusive guidance in the right direction-this was, with the courage of his convictions, Mr. Oorloff’s way, not hurriedly to jettison past traditions merely because they were under fire but to preserve what was best in them while gradually adapting them to the new demands. In this way, for example, the language medium revolution was completed but English was not abandoned; the teaching of other religions was introduced but the school remained unapologetically Christian.

For Mr. Oorloff this last was his first concern. He was a man of deep and abiding but not ostentatious faith and it is fitting that through his efforts the most beautiful part of the school is that which surrounds the Chapel whose tower he was chiefly instrumental in building.


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