Kuruvila Jacob spent two years in Leeds, taking first a diploma and then his master’s degree in education. Not only did he get a good grounding in his specific interest, he was also exposed to a lot of new thinking in the field of education. Even before he completed his course, Kuruvila got two offers of jobs back home in India.
The first was the headmastership of his old school, CMS, at Kottayam. The second offer was heading the Madras Christian College High School. For the first time in its almost century-old history, going against the tradition of making professors at the Madras Christian College its heads, the principalship of the Madras Christian College School was being offered to an Indian, the young educator from Kerala.
In 1931, Kuruvila Jacob took charge as headmaster and was at the helm for 31 years of unparalleled activity that made Madras Christian College School an institution that rivalled the best European-run English medium schools of the time, yet one that was uniquely Indian in character.
The school and the college shared the same premises in crowded George Town area of Madras for many years. This was not the best of situations, but Kuruvila ran the school efficiently.
He soon won the affection and respect of the students as well as of his staff. Academic records improved considerably, and, knowing Kuruvila's interest in sports, it was not surprising the students excelled in games.
Right from the beginning, he fostered a personal relationship with the students, discovering and encouraging individual talents, and making away with the image of the headmaster as a bogeyman.
In 1947, when Madras Christian College moved to Tambaram, Kuruvila Jacob's heart was set on moving the school too to more spacious and healthier surroundings. He persuaded the board to sell the George Town property and buy a large garden house in Chetpet, set in 28 acres of land, the ideal location for a boys' school.
He worked closely with the architects, giving them his ideas right to the last detail. Costs were contained by using whatever furniture and fittings could be moved from the old school, and a lot of construction material was bought from military sources at post-war low price.
The facilities he built in this new campus made MCC School one of the best schools in the country. He was aware that an institution was only as good as the individuals who peopled it and therefore made sure that it had a dedicated set of teachers who would impart his values in their teaching.
A good team of physical instructors and coaches put to good use the vast grounds and the school was home to all major sports trophies for several decades.Regular school camps, the NCC and Boy Scouts were compulsory activities and served to develop interpersonal skills.
Honesty and self-assessment were inculcated through small exercises such as the unsupervised sale of peanuts and a public assessment of the amount so collected at the end of each day.Kuruvila Jacob knew the value of an open mind and the need to expose it to current affairs and new ideas.
Newspapers were placed in the school lobbies and news of important and prestigious events were read out at the daily assembly. Visual education was a regular component of the school curriculum, with films of the latest advances in science, the best coaching films on cricket and other games and the latest news from abroad being shown. Not only were there exchange students from other countries, MCC School also played host to famous personalities.
Kuruvila Jacob's outstanding work at MCC School did not go unrecognised. He was asked to be a member of many government-sponsored and other committees on education. He travelled extensively in Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the Soviet Union, visiting and evaluating schools. And every time on his return home, he tried to incorporate some of the interesting things he had noticed into his own school.
In 1962, after 31 years of dedicated work, Kuruvila Jacob retired as headmaster of MCC School. He had seen two generations of boys through to adulthood and was justifiably satisfied with his achievements. He had realised to a large extent the dreams he had set out with all those years ago.