Tell us about your present as well as past assignments & your experience with the education system. Also, share your experience as a teacher as well as a school administrator?
I started as a physics teacher for classes XI and XII at the Modern School, Delhi, and then moved on to administration. I worked with various schools in the NCR in different capacities but as an administrator, I felt that I needed to upgrade my knowledge of management and, therefore, needed to do a specialised course, which would put me on the front seat. I decided to try for IIM, the premier management institute of our country, and cracked CAT. As a part of the student community at IIM, Bangalore, I felt that school management was not given enough importance and everything centred more around the corporate sector. But today the perception has changed and they accept that schools need heads who have been through this training.
Tell us about your school, its history and motive behind its establishment?
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DPS, Rajnagar, came into being in April 2011. The aim of the school is to provide a holistic system of education, based on Indian culture and tradition. Moreover, we believe that students need to preserve their own unique personality, they need to be “themselves”. Though they can draw inspiration from the lives of celebrities and high achievers like Sachin Tendulkar and Steve Jobs, at the same time, they need to maintain their individuality. The school provides students with an infrastructure, programmes and processes that focus on their individual development and aid them to discover their true potential.
What is your success mantra?
I believe that self-esteem is a major key to success. The development of a positive self-concept or healthy self-esteem is extremely important to ensure the happiness and success of children and teenagers. An individual who has high self-esteem is bound to be successful in life.
How do you assess the transformation of the education system during the past few years?
The education system has undergone a drastic change both at the school as well as at the college level. Some of the new initiatives that have been introduced at school level are the CCE, PSA, Value Education, ASL, HOTS, OTBA etc. Of course, there is no denying that CBSE needed to implement these changes as, by and large, the students will benefit from these changes, but I feel that bringing them about slowly with more deliberation would have had far-reaching implications.
What are the special facilities offered by your school to students?
The students of the school are lucky to have beautiful infrastructure. The school has lots of sports and other facilities and, for every facility, a specially trained coach. To name a few, we have international standard synthetic lawn tennis and basketball courts, football fields, volleyball, net ball and handball courts, cemented pitch for cricket, beautiful swimming pools for toddlers as well as older children, skating rink, art, craft and theatre rooms etc.
Also, we have a unique feature called the language lab, where students of the school are allowed to experiment with language. At this lab, students can be seen listening, thinking, speaking, writing, dramatising, quizzing and laughing in English.
Students are given an opportunity to graduate in different disciplines like music — both instrumental as well as vocal, art, dance, etc. from well-known universities like the Trinity College, London, the Prayag Samiti and the Kalashram Pandit Birjuji Maharaj.
These go hand in hand with the school curriculum.
A newspaper called the Youth Express, which gives a voice to students on all topics of current interest like politics, new vistas in education, cartoons, articles, critical analysis of movies which are certified for child viewing etc, is also there. Also we have a youth forum, where debates, discussions etc. are organised giving the students an opportunity to open up their minds On the whole, plenty of openings are there and all students find their own forte.
What are the challenges students generally face these days?
In today’s world, there are too many pressures on students to succeed. The emotional buffer in terms of family and extended family is not there anymore. The family structure has changed the society and its expectations from individuals has also changed. Life has become a rat race with professional approach at every step. These days teachers, relatives and neighbours have their own well-defined domains, which they do not want to overstep. Moreover, the generation gap too is there. Life is moving at a very fast pace; at the click of the mouse the screen changes, similar expectations are there from students.
How do you promote or balance other curricular activities along with academics in your school?
The school activity calendar goes hand in hand with the school academic calendar. The activities supplement the hardcore curriculum of the school, thus ensuring that students get a taste of all the ingredients that are necessary for their holistic development.
What is the learning mode in your school (digital classroom and library, inter-personal and presentation)?
We have a comprehensive and technologically designed methodology, which is introduced at all stages to develop the intellectual personality required to achieve academic success.
Every classroom is digital. The library or our virtual knowledge centre is a place where students can read and enrich themselves. It has as many as 12,000 books catering to students of all age groups, magazines of different genres, from funny to serious to political and issue-based. The Tell Me Why magazine is a great source of information and has helped students learn a lot about their great cultural heritage.
We have a well-equipped resource centre, where teachers and students make PPTs to provide extra information to their students/peers. Recently, we have started peer-coaching programmes for senior classes i.e. 9th onwards on topics like gender sensitisation. These programmes automatically put students into the higher order thinking mode and help them become responsible adults. Apart from this, many a topic of emotional stress that a child may go through during his/her years of puberty have been debated and deliberated on. These programmes can be structured or unstructured.
How important is the role of teachers as mentors or facilitators in the modern learning scheme?
The teachers, or the faculty, are the backbone of any educational instituition. Since students leave the secure surroundings of their homes and enter school at the age of three and are there till seventeen/eighteen years or till they become adults, it’s the different school programmes which help shape their personalities. The teachers’ role is to encourage the child to ask questions, search for answers and figure out the difference between right and wrong. Also a teacher is like the rock of Gibraltor, helping students take small steps as well as big leaps in the right direction.
What, according to you, are the important factors that should be followed to keep up the standard of an institution/school?
The infrastructure of the school should be in accordance with the constantly changing educational climate from the global perspective. The faculty should be sent for workshops and other development programmes to help them keep abreast with the once-again dynamic nature of this field. The feedback system from parents and students is also one of the factors, which helps in maintaining the standard of a school.
I firmly believe in the quote by Nelson Mandela that “ education is the most powerful weapon with which you can change the world”.