‘Special students must be dealt with empathy’

Most important quality a principal should have is self-discipline. Where there is discipline, all the other qualities will be easily acquired

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: September 1, 2014 12:01:02 am
Fr Anil George, Principal, St Francis De Sales Sr Sec School, Janakpuri Fr Anil George, Principal, St Francis De Sales Sr Sec School, Janakpuri

What’s your leadership style?
I believe in being a leader who can inspire and transform. Learning naturally takes place when we inspire the students by our own examples. Once the students are inspired, we lead them to transformation.

How do you handle student discipline?
According to Fr Peter Mermier, the founder of MSFS Congregation, strictness mixed with kindness is essential to discipline students. Therefore, students should be handled with care, love and, if needed, strictness. The need for self-discipline in daily life is inculcated in them through class assemblies and talks by the management and staff. Parents also play an important role in disciplining the child. It is a joint venture.

How do you work with diversestudents and families?
School is an institution where many of us come together with the ultimate aim of bringing about an all-round development in the students. We come across diverse students and parents every day. A better understanding of the society is very important before we take up any issue. All our programmes must aim at the progress of the students rather than categorising any. The students who need special care and attention should be dealt with empathy and compassion.

What is the most important quality a principal should have and why?
The most important quality a principal should have is self-discipline. Where there is discipline, all the other qualities will be easily acquired. A patient hearing is the next quality a principal must possess. Many of the problems and difficulties can be resolved by it. A principal should be a man of vision and action.

Tell us about your present as well as past assignments and your experience with the education system. Also, share your experience as a teacher as well as a school administrator
I feel that the term administrator would not be apt; a better word would be ‘facilitator’. A few years back, I was appointed as vice-principal in the school. I believe that this profession of teaching should not only be a profession but a way of life, a vocation.
I have also worked in Maharashtra, especially in the backward areas, for three and a half years. Every day is a new experience and brings forth new challenges. This profession never stops teaching you new things. Presence of mind and applying it effectively in administering day-to-day activities of the school is very important. Being a missionary, my vision is more encompassing and inclusive.

What are the challenges students generally face these days ?
In today’s world, a child faces numerous challenges. The main challenges are peer pressure and the onslaught of the media. They are not well-equipped to handle both. Hence, we see in them sudden changes. The influence of mass media is tremendous on children. They blindly imitate what they see and hear. Parents and the school must educate them about the good and bad side of the media and help them to use the media for their good. The attitude of permissiveness is another challenge that threatens the children. In today’s world everything is permitted. They would like to experiment with everything they see or hear. So to educate them about the right way of living is a big challenge to school and to the parents.

How do you promote or balance other extracurricular activities along with academics in your school ?
The children are given all the opportunities to develop their talents. We have a cultural week in the month of May, where numerous competitions are held house-wise. They participate in zonal, inter-zonal, district and state-wise competitions in cultural, sports and games events. We have art education periods where students are encouraged to pick up some skills. We have very strong volleyball and football teams. The nukkad natak group has also won many prizes at the zonal, inter-zonal and state events. There are numerous programmes through which students manifest their skills and talents. Annual Parents’ Day and Annual Athletics Meet are opportunities for students to showcase their talents to the parents and to the world. We believe in giving opportunity to all our students rather than a chosen few.

How is the learning mode in your school?
Though all the classrooms are not digital classrooms, we have an audio-visual room, an interactive classroom, two language labs with interactive boards and internet facility. We have a digital library where students can read articles, magazines, encyclopedias etc. We were the first school to install a CCTV system way back in 1978. The students of each class present a programme based on the allotted theme. Children script, direct and enact their programme under the guidance of the classteacher. Our library is well equipped with almost 30,000 books and over 60 periodicals. Teachers take personal interest in every activity and ensure that each student benefits from it.

How important is the role of teachers as mentors or facilitators in the modern learning scheme?
Even though we live in a virtual world and virtual classrooms are becoming a reality, the role of teachers cannot be undermined in the teaching-learning process. Just as a newborn baby requires the tender touch of its mother, a student also requires the tenderness, love and care of a teacher to grow and blossom. We are not mere humanoids with preset programmes; each one of us has emotions and feelings. We need to be nurtured and loved. It is through interactions we learn about virtues, customs and practices which are essential for human society. It is from the school that a child acquires these basic ingredients of life. So long as we are a societal being, we need others. This interdependency begins at home and continues in the school. Knowledge can be obtained from many sources, but humaneness and values, we learn from others. Here the role of a teacher as mentor and facilitator is extremely important.

How can you contribute to the development of the children in school?
Education should be aimed at all-round development of the students. Academic excellence should be accompanied by moral excellence. Every activity of SFS is aimed at achieving this goal — value education classes, career counselling, co-curricular activities are aimed at equipping the students to face the challenges that lie ahead in the future.

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