Quest interview with Sonia Luthra, Principal, ASN School, Mayur Vihar
What’s your leadership style?
Henry Ford said leaders don’t find faults, they find remedies.
I believe leadership is all about envisioning a goal and motivating others to work together towards that goal. A congenial atmosphere is created in my school, inspiring and empowering my team to utilise all their innovative ideas and experiences for the achievement of the set goal. We are committed to foster a caring, safe, inclusive and conducive learning environment in our school so that our goal of development of responsible individuals with wholesome values and personal excellence is achieved.
How do you handle student discipline?
According to me, discipline has two distinct aims — one is to help, create and maintain a safe, orderly and positive learning environment and the other is to develop self-discipline. We have a comprehensive school policy for maintaining discipline where every stakeholder of the school i.e., principal, teachers, counsellors, parents and students play a distinct role.
Practicing yoga and meditation to discipline the mind is the focal point of our discipline policy. To encourage and inculcate positive behavior, we counsel the students with reason and engage them in creative and challenging projects and cultural activities, such as stage and streetplays, debates, PPTs so that the rule-breaker learns to be the rule-regulator.
How do you work with diverse students and families?
At ASN, all students, regardless of their cultural, linguistic and economic background, are welcomed, supported and provided with the best opportunities to learn and share with each other. We help students bridge discontinuity between home and school by regular interactions with the parents through orientation programmes, PTMs, diary notes, emails, SMSs and telephonic conversations. We invite parents to participate in our school programmes and activities from time to time. We have clear-cut policies which take care of inclusive education to help meet challenges of diversity.
What is the most important quality a principal should have?
The most important quality of a principal is to have open-mindedness along with the willingness to learn so as to build the whole school as a learning community. She/he should exhibit foresightedness in planning, should be an effective listener, a problem-solver, fair and consistent in approach with social consciousness and accountability. These qualities would make her/him the most distinct administrator.
Tell us about your present as well as past assignments and your experience with education system. Also, share your experience as a teacher as well as school administrator?
Modern education has become more challenging as learners have high IQ, energy levels with immense information accessed through technology. Hence, education should enhance creative thinking and entrepreneurial skills, along with interpersonal relations, collaborative learning and development of independent learners.
With my years of experience as a teacher and now as a school administrator, I make sure to bring in various innovations in our pedagogy to meet all the challenges of the teacher and taught effectively. Some of the innovations brought in are — Integrated Approach, Project Method, Constructive Learning, Syndicates, Mind Mapping, which are used for effortless, joyful teaching and learning. Our school also conducts sensitisation programmes on sensitive social issues like the need for revival of life sources, care for the girl child etc., from time to time. Effortless adoption of these innovative pedagogies has been possible because of the frequent in-service programmes being conducted at our school.
Tell us about your school, its history and motive behind its establishment?
The long journey of ASN started in the year 1975 with an objective to serve humanity in the field of education. Our school stands distinct as it is recognised to be a school with unique fusion of Indian culture with modern concepts. India was once called the ‘Vishwaguru’ in the field of education where renowned universities like Nalanda and Takshshilla paved the way for students from different parts of the world to reach the zenith of success. This inspired the establishment of this institution.
How do you promote or balance other curricular activities along with academics in your school?
Education, when approached with a holistic perspective, becomes a learning experience, enabling students to develop attributes of Head, Heart and Hand. At ASN, a balancing act between formal and informal learning is achieved by incorporating all co-curricular activities with the academic planner. It helps to nurture and develop in students the various aspects of learning like creative expression, analytical thinking, team spirit, decision making and giving global dimensions for better conceptual learning along with personality development through various clubs.
A well chalked out Golden Hour activity schedule is followed at all levels every morning as the school starts. Activities like theme-based assemblies, activities conducted under various clubs like Eco Club, Astronomy Club, Health & Wellness Club, Community Service Club, Dance, Music, Literary and Dramatic Clubs, house meetings, sports activities, inter- house competitions like declamation, recitation, quiz, poster-making, story weaving, etc., are held during this hour.
We are also very keen to guide and coach students in games and sports of their choice out of 10 offered, so that our students can compete at national and international levels. Our students, Kanika Kanwal, Utsav Soi and Khushboo have participated in international badminton tournaments at Indonesia, Asia Junior Sports’ Exchange Games, Tokyo, respectively. Kanwal is also the winner of the First Indian Badminton League at Mumbai, where she received cash prize of Rs 2.5 lakh.
Our school head girl, Naina Dargan, won Rs 1 lakh cash award and a trip to Germany at Horlicks Wiz Team South Asian finals. She also won second position in Premarica Community Spirits Awards, USA.
Ana Sinha bagged the first position and was awarded an iPad by Monash University, Australia, in national essay-writing competition.Other than these, our students do excel in different arenas — music, dance, art, dramatics at various forums like NIDM, SAARC, ICCR, Youth Festival, British Council, IQF, Delhi Traffic Police, IITF, etc.
How can you contribute to the development of the children in school?
The core objective of the school is to bring in an all-round development of the children since the foremost commitment is to channelise their energy towards a positive direction.
- Identify the innate talents of the students and give them freedom of expression
- Acknowledge them for what they are
- Give them global exposure
- Motivate them to serve the needy
- To sensitise them of prevalent environmental and social issues
I believe that the stated objectives will not only enhance students’ capacities, interests and habits but also arouse their social conscience and prepare them for a life of service to family, community, country and the world at large.
What do you think is your school’s contribution to education in Delhi?
School is dedicated to give meritorious results year after year and has well-placed alumni in prominent sectors. Following the teaching of Swami Vivekananda that “every individual should have a higher reason to live, a higher ideal to live for and a higher state to reach within the realms of human existence”, ASN’s mission evinces the belief of leading a life for others, to make it worthier which is also well-reflected in the school motto, ‘Faith & Follow, Act & Achieve, Serve & Smile’. To realise our mission and sensitise the students of Delhi and NCR to become socially accountable as future citizens, our school organises a grand event,‘ASN Yamuna Wealth Interschool Games & Cultural Fest’, taking up burning issues as its theme like the revival of river Yamuna, save girl child, gender discrimination and preservation of Indian culture and heritage. The school is committed to produce national- and international- level players by providing them good sports complex, among others.