Cultivating Excellence: A Journey of Leadership and Impact in Education

As a Jesuit Priest, my academic journey has been marked by a commitment to excellence across various disciplines. I've had the privilege of contributing significantly to the field of education. 

In the realm of education, my narrative is one of dedication, innovation, and unwavering commitment to fostering human excellence. I bring to the table a rich tapestry of academic credentials armed with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, Theology, and Law, a master’s degree in history and education, and a Ph.D. focused on "Development of Human Excellence through Academic and Personal Formation," I embarked on a fulfilling career in education. My odyssey as an educator commenced in 1989 when I entered the hallowed halls of Holy Family High School as a Jesuit educator. Since then, I've ascended the ranks with speed, competence, and unwavering zeal, serving in roles ranging from Teacher to Supervisor, Vice-Principal, and presently, Principal, a position I've held for over three decades. I have continuously pursued professional growth and am updated with the latest educational and technological advancements. My multifaceted approach and commitment to innovation have left a lasting impact on the education sector's academic and structural development.

Throughout my tenure, I've embraced a multifaceted approach to education, constantly staying abreast of the latest pedagogical and technological advancements. Drawing upon my vast knowledge, extensive experience, and tireless dedication, I've spearheaded transformative initiatives to foster human development through academic and structural reforms. With a blend of head and heart, I've cultivated an environment conducive to holistic growth, instilling confidence and nurturing the oratory and self-esteem of my students. My impact within the educational landscape stems from a combination of extensive knowledge, practical experience, tireless dedication, and a penchant for innovation. I have spearheaded numerous academic and structural reforms that have significantly contributed to the holistic development of individuals within the educational framework. Through student-centric programs and co-curricular activities, I have provided a platform for students to excel academically and personally, nurturing their oratory skills, self-esteem, and overall personality development. Indeed, I am a skilled artisan sculpting the leaders of tomorrow.

Quality leadership has been fundamental to my success. In an organization, one needs to blend different forms of leadership for effective outcomes, particularly in an educational institution like a school. I take the role of delegating leadership. As a school leader, I always focus on a participative and delegated form of leadership. I’ve adopted a delegated leadership style, recognizing the importance of collaboration and shared responsibility in achieving academic excellence. Delegating responsibilities among my core team members allows me to focus on strategic planning and organization, fostering trust and initiative within my team. In a school, you deal right from kindergarten to the level of higher secondary students. You cannot articulate and implement your vision all alone. You need to transmit the same to the head of the kindergarten, the primary and the Assistant Principal, and the other academic and faculty coordinators. The Principal alone cannot look into the various aspects of the school. The Principal has to delegate to his subordinates. At the heart of my leadership philosophy lies a commitment to quality leadership, which is paramount to my success. Delegation has not only allowed for effective decision-making but has also facilitated planning and organization while engendering trust and initiative among my colleagues. Through this approach, the faculty members have emerged as leaders in their own right, driving innovation and cooperation within the school community.

Higher expectations from the workforce are significant. Because it makes your workforce get focussed as per your long- and short-term goals set for them. The outcome will be as per the expectation. It will keep the workforce mobile and proactive and avoid stagnation. High expectations from my staff have built their self-esteem and increased their confidence to improve their performance. It has helped them realize their true potential and led to richer learning experiences. Setting high expectations for the workforce has been central to my mission of academic excellence. By challenging the staff to reach their full potential, I've witnessed a remarkable transformation in both performance and morale. By instilling a sense of responsibility and confidence in my staff, I have seen tremendous growth in performance and self-esteem. However, I remain attuned to the needs and feedback of my team, fostering flexibility and adaptability in response to changing circumstances. 

Initiatives such as the "Adopt a Child" program and personalized support for students facing challenges demonstrate the commitment to inclusivity and support. In an ‘adopt a child ‘program, one or two children are adopted who have either academic or emotional problems. The teachers accompany the children through all the ups and downs that take place in the child's life. This scheme has worked miracles. 

One of the cons of fulfilling these high expectations is to carry every child in the mainstream no matter what challenges the child is facing, be it academic, hyperactive, or emotionally disturbed. This is one of the worries of our proactive and well-equipped counseling center. That’s why I have introduced happy hour for students and teachers to take a break occasionally. When higher expectations are set for my workforce, I need to be very sensitive to feel the pulse of my workforce. I need to be very attentive and open to listening to the feedback given to me by my subordinates. I must learn to be more flexible in changing unpleasant environments and adapting to new situations. I have learned not to be very rigid. However, I remain aware of balancing high expectations with sensitivity and flexibility, ensuring a nurturing environment for all. Additionally, I prioritize ongoing training and spiritual orientation to align with the ethos of Jesuit education and the pursuit of 'Magis'—the constant striving for more outstanding excellence.

Furthermore, embracing Jesuit values, I am committed to holistic education, emphasizing academic excellence, global citizenship, justice, and environmental care. Through a range of practices, including regular classroom observations, exposure visits, and engagement with resource persons, I strive to enhance the professional development of my teachers. Embracing innovation, I have integrated educational software and experiential learning opportunities into the curriculum, preparing students for future challenges. I've implemented various best practices, such as non-competitive grading at the primary level and experiential learning opportunities in collaboration with leading partners in STEAM technology.

To support the professional development of teachers, I have implemented a range of practices aimed at enhancing pedagogical skills and fostering a culture of continuous learning. From regular classroom observations and feedback sessions to inviting external resource persons and facilitating exposure visits, I provide the staff with the tools they need to excel. Moreover, the "Word for the Day" and breathing exercises enrich the learning experience and promote holistic development. Our students must learn every day. Word for the day with its meaning, and a sentence related to the word is printed in the school calendar for each day. Based on this, vocabulary quizzes are conducted, and the students who have mastered all the vocabulary correctly are awarded some valuable articles like a pen or a book. This practice has helped our students to build and develop their vocabulary. The teachers have noticed it in the student’s compositions and other writings.

Breathing Exercise and Ignatian Examen: After the long lunch recess, which lasts for forty-five minutes, the students are tired and distracted when they enter the classroom. The daily breathing exercise, along with the Ignatian Examen, conducted for the entire school on the public system, helps the students recollect and quiet themselves and be grateful to God. 

Canteen day: The parents, teachers, and students, in collaboration with each other, conduct a canteen day every month. The proceeds collected from these canteen days are utilized for the rural students with whom we have our outreach program. Besides this, some amount is spent on our support staff as an incentive during the festive season. 

When a teacher perceives teaching as only a means of earning, I see a mismatch between the expectations. Teaching is not only a profession but a noble vocation. It is always challenging for me to align a teacher who joins with this outlook. Ours is the Jesuit education. One of the charisms of our Jesuit education is to keep striving for the greater, the “More’. We call it the ‘Magis’. A change in mindset of this kind requires frequent training programs and spiritual orientation.

Recognizing the importance of inclusivity and support for students with special needs, I have collaborated with parents and specialized educators to provide tailored assistance and remediation. Additionally, I have launched pilot programs in STEAM technology, embracing the frontier of artificial intelligence and experiential learning to enrich our curriculum further.

In response to emerging trends in education, such as experiential learning and STEAM integration, I have launched innovative programs in collaboration with leading partners. By harnessing the power of technology and interdisciplinary approaches, I aim to prepare the students for future challenges. At the same time, Jesuit education emphasizes human excellence, which comprises the holistic development of every child. I give equal emphasis to academics and extra-curricular activities. Before and after school, I have a regular sports coaching programme, which includes football, basketball, cricket, athletics, Judo, and karate. I focus on creating the mindset of a good sportsperson. I also have various clubs, including music, interact, photography, nature, scout, RSP, and social outreach. I take our students on regular nature walks. The social outreach club goes to a rural camp and invites the rural students to spend a few days in the school. The outreach program helps the students become aware of rural life and their difficulties in pursuing their education. The nature club helps the students connect to nature profoundly and understand their responsibility for the more significant sustainability issues. 

As a school leader, I meet every school stakeholder daily for briefings and to discuss emergency issues. I have created a WhatsApp group for all my staff and a class-wise parents group, wherein all vital communication is transmitted immediately. There are regular meetings of the School Committee, Academic Council, Academic Coordinators, and the Counselling team wherein I have a detailed discussion as a school leader. The monthly staff meeting had been very productive and effective. Sometimes, I organize ‘Happy Hour” for teachers to create cordial bonding.   

Central to my mission is cultivating relationships with stakeholders, including parents, students, and the wider community. I foster communication and collaboration through regular staff and PTA meetings, newsletters, and educational tours, ensuring everyone has a voice in shaping the school's future. Moreover, initiatives such as Grandparents Day, Parents Interaction Day, inter-religion prayer service, and regular briefings strengthen bonds and promote a sense of belonging among all school community members. Through initiatives such as the 'Immaculata' interschool event and ongoing academic and extracurricular programs, I continue to uphold the values of Jesuit education and the pursuit of human excellence.

In tandem with my commitment to academic excellence is a steadfast dedication to student's welfare and safety. From stringent security measures to a zero-tolerance policy on corporal punishment, I prioritize the well-being of the students above all else. The counseling center provides comprehensive support to students with emotional and psychological needs, ensuring no child is left behind.