“It is a supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
The parents are the children’s first teachers; they impart to them life lessons and teach them about positive and negative things. However, in addition to parents, teachers in schools and universities play a significant role in a child’s development.
Teachers are the torchbearers in children’s lives because they consistently direct them in the right direction, aid them in determining their ideal vocation, and then give them accurate guidance in compliance.
As much as people like to claim that education is the key to success, it is teachers who exert a lasting influence on students’ lives. In a similar vein, Mrs Kavita Das, the Principal at St. John’s High School, has been molding pupils’ lives and ensuring that they succeed in life and evolve into responsible, devoted citizens who respect God’s blessings for the societal benefit.
She has dedicated her life to teaching and molding the lives and careers of students because she always believed that teaching is a vocation. She is the fourth generation in her family to become a teacher, and her mother and grandmother have inspired her to work with children and transform their lives.
We came across Mrs Kavita Das, the principal of St. John’s High School, while searching for the ‘Inspiring Principals of the Year 2023.’ She addressed her career journey as well as her future ambitions in an interactive interview with The Knowledge Review.
Step in to discover more about Mrs Kavita Das.
Please walk us through your journey into the education sector and enlighten us about your career.
I began attending St. Columba’s School in 1985, and after getting married, I transferred to St. John’s High School in 1997. The Congregation of Christian Brothers in India oversees both schools. In 2007, I became the new principal that improves the students’ lives by her imprint on them.
Tell us about your esteemed school and its mission, vision, and core values.
The symbol of St. John’s is the Eagle which represents a deep spirituality. I find it particularly apt because I believe children must be given wings to take flight and soar above life’s challenges on the wings of strength, wisdom, creativity, freedom, loyalty, and a fierce, abiding faith in their Creator.
Knowledge is given to everyone who follows a predetermined syllabus based on the NCF. So, what sets our school apart? The answer lies in the school motto, “Pro Deo et Patria” – For God and Country.
From the start, our children are taught about God being the center of it all. They are also encouraged to be dedicated, patriotic citizens who deal with compassion and kindness, especially with the marginalized of this world. They recognize that every human being is uniquely and wonderfully made and worthy of respect. In turn, they also value their individuality and carry themselves confidently and elan!
What measures have been taken to enhance the student learning experience in your school?
The school was not surprised when the NEP was released to discover that we fully complied with the principles and specifications of this prestigious document when a compliance evaluation was conducted. Textbooks are frequently put on hold until the subject has been covered while our children are taught through activity-based programs!
Textbooks are only then examined in order to enhance learning. Research, questioning, exploration, projects, discussion, and debate are encouraged to teach students how to think critically and avoid accepting information at face value. Field trips are frequent, co-curricular activities are plentiful, and athletics are well-liked. Most essential, a solid foundation of values that give learning purpose runs through it all.
In terms of course objectives and learning outcomes, what does your school prioritize?
Learning by doing! The approach is Multiintelligence and Learning Style based. Creativity and originality are keywords when it comes to teaching.
What are the significant challenges that the education sector in India faces today? What initiatives/programs have you launched to overcome it?
Inclusion and overwhelming numbers are significant challenges. We deal with the latter by strictly adhering to a fixed number per class so that classes do not become unmanageable.
Regarding inclusion, we are very proud that every unique child is identified and catered to by Grade 2, thanks to the intensive training given to the staff that allows them to identify these children quickly.
By engaging every class in an annual, ongoing programme called Community Outreach, we also seek to develop compassion. Through interactions with people who are cognitively, physically, or audibly challenged, seniors, children with thalassemia, lepers, members of the transgender community, and many more, our youngsters develop empathy and compassion. Thus, inclusion develops into a way of life. The KGs and Class Ones adopt zoo animals as they start their path toward compassion by realizing that they protect the environment and everything in it.
We also have more than 300 EWS children fully integrated into the school, with a strong program to ensure they gain from their education. In this context, we have a unique program called the ‘Foster Parent’ program in which each teacher is a foster parent to 3 children and is responsible for their physical, mental, emotional, and academic welfare. We also have Adult Education classes for their parents. This program has paid rich dividends, with our EWS children now placed as Chartered Accountants, Doctors, Pilots, Businessmen, etc.!
Academics are ‘given’ in our school, with every child doing very well.
What are the effective changes you have incorporated in the school curriculum for the overall development of the students?
As stated earlier, we have made the entire curriculum activity-based and embedded it with values, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Co-operative Learning, and inter-disciplinary planning. The syllabus is modified for the Special kids, and we have four counsellors and two special educators who work with the students to ensure their stability and learning. Community Service is also inbuilt.
What advice can you give those who want to step into the education field?
Teaching is a vocation and NOT a profession. You must be willing to invest yourself in your kids and school to be a effective teacher. Keep abreast of changes and work with creativity, integrity, a deep and abiding faith, and compassion. Most of all, love your students and deal with them fairly.
Please share what lies ahead for you and your school in the near future.
I will be stepping down at the end of this academic session as I have reached the age of retirement! I have always believed that God opens doors and allows one to serve, so I look forward to seeing where He will lead me!
St. John’s will continue to soar to ever greater heights, keeping with its symbol, the Eagle, and will always remain a haven filled with kindness, care, spirituality, and love for its children.