Halton Police Deputy Chief Nishan (Nish) Duraiappah overcame some tough obstacles in his youth, a time when change is difficult and its impacts are often unforgiving. During his high school years, Nish experienced two significant life changing events. Sadly, his dad passed away and, while still coping with this great loss, he severely injured his arm. Nish was fortunate to a have great support from family and friends, so these challenging times were cushioned for the only child and budding musician.
High school was one of those supportive places for Nish, and in particular one of several great teachers made a difference. Mr. Stuart Charles was a well-liked teacher at Milton District High School. Nish remembers Mr. Charles always made time for his students, greeting them with a warm hello as the kids entered the library and a moment for casual chat before they left. Nish remembers Mr. Charles just seemed to care. He noticed when you weren’t yourself or slacking off and he really took interest in his students.
“When I hurt my arm, Mr. Charles even visited me in the hospital to see how I was doing,” said Nish. “Looking back, the impact of our regular conversations was a great buffer for me. I was lucky my teachers were so supportive.”
It was also Mr. Charles who introduced the Deputy Police Chief to the idea of a career in policing. He knew the kind of kid I was and one day encouraged me to sign up for the Halton Regional Police, PEACE Program, a program for youth that still runs today.
“It was through that experience that I decided policing would be in my future,” Nish said. “When the summer program finished, I couldn’t wait to tell Mr. Charles all about it.”
The story of the Deputy Police Chief and his teacher embodies many of the rich qualities of a developmental relationship – a meaningful relationship that nurtures and prepares children and youth as they navigate life ahead. Mr. Charles was a caring teacher and a friend. He made Nish feel valued by connecting with him often. He expected him to live up to his potential and guided him through hard situations by providing support and advice. Opportunities to lead were created in and out of school, and Nish benefited from new experiences like the summer police program.
Strong relationships with people who care help children and youth succeed academically, socially, and drive them in their future aspirations. Relationships like these help them to develop the skills, values and attitudes that build resiliency.
When Nish got the exciting news he was successfully promoted to Deputy Chief of Operations for Halton Regional Police, it was only fitting that Mr. Charles was at the top of his call list. On the night of his swearing in ceremony, Nish embraced the opportunity to thank his teacher for being there. I can only imagine how proud Mr. Charles felt and what a fine testament to the role he played as a mentor and teacher.
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For parenting information or to speak with a public health nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) dial 311 or 905-825-6000.