It was way back in 1993 that I moved to Bangalore, India’s IT city, from the north eastern state of Assam, and this was a turning point in my life. I had the dream of nurturing ‘leaders of tomorrow’ and it was Greenwood High International School that provided me with a platform to fulfil that goal. I have always been passionate about education and I believe our school has reached newer heights of excellence in moulding the young minds of tomorrow.
I have been in the education domain since 2010, when I got involved in the management of Greenwood High International School in Bengaluru. This initiative gave me a sense of direction and fulfilment. Today I am dedicated to the field of education and want to reach my full potential in this noble profession. It is my aim to open more schools to meet the growing demand for education not just in Bengaluru, but across India as well. Today, Greenwood High has over 7000 children, and this number will only grow. One of the major decisions I took was to have an international curriculum like IB & IGCSE running alongside the Indian ICSE board curriculum. This gives children the choice to decide in their formative years if they wish to go for higher studies abroad.
We are currently living in unprecedented times, and digitalisation has taken over education. Understanding the immediate need last year, our academic team worked on a war footing to recreate and migrate our entire pedagogy into the online space. Since our school is a certified partner of Microsoft, we came up with our own internal setup to conduct online classes and assessments using their Teams App. Our time tables for online classes have been designed to keep the screen time of kids as minimal but as effective in learning as possible. We are keeping a tab on the number of classes every week, limiting it well within the safe screen time as prescribed by health experts and the government. It has been a great learning curve for us so far. We foresee that hybrid learning would be challenging. Teachers have a daunting task of them having to cope up with a dual role of teaching online and offline at the same time. The hybrid model may not work for too long as classroom learning can never be compensated.
There were times when we were made to realise that distance-education is not the best choice for education. In the current scenario we are made to believe that distance or online learning will become an integral part of our education. This Covid-19 pandemic has taught us many life lessons; it has also taught us that education must change to prepare learners for an unpredictable future. Schools across the country have moved to virtual classes and when these schools reopen, both teachers and students are going to need their digital skills to be successful in future. Students are now navigating the real world and the virtual world efficiently to deal with future disruptions. The current scenario has caused a disruption in education, and online teaching has been the solution.
There were many challenges that we came across. Teachers had to be trained in using new online technologies to teach children, which was a sharp break from the traditional mode of classroom teaching. We had to ensure that teachers were equipped with the right technological infrastructure to address students online. On the other hand, parents too had to learn how to work online and ensure that children were focused on online learning, which is a major challenge as young students are easily distracted. The overall challenge therefore was to keep teachers, parents and students focussed on learning while the pandemic was becoming intense.
Our school is fully equipped with thermal scanners and infrared thermometers to screen every child’s body temperature before they enter the premises. We have impressed upon our students the necessity to continuously sanitize their hands. Adhering to the social distancing norms, in case the students are allowed to return, we have re-arranged our classrooms to maintain a distance of 6 feet between each occupant, and we also sanitize them regularly. Our canteen has a seating capacity of well over 1000 occupants at the same time. We have re-arranged the canteen seating in a way where social distancing is adhered to. Also, separate zones have been created to facilitate students to eat behind screens safely and securely. We will be ensuring that all students, teachers and staff wear masks, sanitize their hands and maintain social distancing. We will also request our community to take vaccines as per government guidelines.
Our school has been continuously connecting with parents and students to help them manage the mental pressures and frustrations that have increased ever since the whole Covid-19 scene came in. Ever since the Lockdown came into effect, we have been holding counselling sessions for parents and students separately to help them deal with their emotions and feelings with the help of our highly qualified and trained psychological counsellors. Many from our school community embraced these sessions and have benefitted from them immensely.
Needless to say, my family is my greatest support system. My inspiration undoubtedly is my husband Bijay Agarwal, who is the Managing Director of Salarpuria Sattva Group. He has literally given me the wings to fly and the absolute freedom to chase my dreams.
My role model in my formative years was my father who was a businessman to the core. From him, I imbibed the basics of how to run a business, overcome challenges, and find solutions to problems. Thanks to the foundation that he gave me, today I am running a successful educational institution.
On the professional front I feel proud that I am the Managing Trustee of a reputed institution like Greenwood High International School that runs two ICSE Schools, one IB School, and five pre-schools across the city.
As a leader, I truly believe that one has to be positive and give timely feedback to the team. I am highly approachable to my team and follow an open-door policy, and have a very hands-on approach. I believe in ethical business practices and feel that my honesty and transparency as a person have helped me win the confidence and trust of the management team. I honestly feel that there is no substitute for hard work and believe in speaking my mind. This goes a long way in creating a positive environment where growth can flourish.
Do check out experiences shared by our top 50 leaders in education. All of the Leaders in education who have shared their experience with us have been motivating and life changing.
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