Capt. AJ Singh: The Wind Beneath the Wings of Pinegrove School
Executive Director Capt. AJ Singh

The prerequisites necessary for the making of great personalities are the qualities of discipline, dedication, perseverance, and fortitude all of which are in reality ingrained into the very fabric of their existence.

One such personality who has dedicated his entire life and energy for promoting the noble cause of providing quality education to pupils is Capt. AJ Singh. After having served in the Armed Forces for ten years, he decided to shift his focus towards the education sector.

Executive Director Capt. AJ Singh founded Pinegrove School with an unrelenting will to contribute and serve society by providing better educational facilities for students in the green environs of Himachal Pradesh. Under his stewardship Pinegrove School has grown by leaps and bounds into one of the finest and most sought-after residential schools, the story that the stakeholders narrate with pride and passion.

“Switching from a completely divergent profession was not easy. Four years in a day school were tough and gruelling till I decided that my calling was a residential school and then came up with the idea of involving myself in one. The genesis and the growth of Pinegrove School, a co-educational, purely residential, English medium public school affiliated to the CBSE, Delhi up to Senior Secondary Level, into an ebullient ray of light is a long and eventful one. From a handful of students in a small non-descript campus of 2.5 acres in 1991 to a colossal architectural marvel that’s spread across 25 acres of salubrious yet challenging topography in District Solan of Himachal Pradesh is a dream come true,” says Capt. AJ Singh.

Learning from the Best

Passion is what drives us towards a particular goal. However, it is the motivator or the role model that inspires to work towards that goal. For Capt. AJ Singh that role model was his father, Late Wing Commander S.S. Gyani. Having a similar story of serving the army and later dedicating his life to education, Wing Commander S.S. Gyani was an eminent and progressive educationist who considered education as the best service one can do for humanity. “Not patronising any profession, he strongly felt that it was more worthwhile than being in the Indian Army,” expresses Capt. AJ Singh about his father.

Moulding Students into Good, Great and Godly Individuals

Capt. AJ Singh, like his father, believes that education is the best service to humankind. Wherein one gets the opportunity to nurture and shape the heart, mind, and soul of the students and mould them into Good, Great, and Godly individuals. With that vision in mind, Capt. AJ Singh allowed Pinegrove to spread its wings, and in the year 1998, at Subathu, Pinegrove School got its second branch.

Moreover, the school campus is designed and curated in such a manner that the school’s mission statement resonates in every nook and corner. “We believe in the creation of ‘exalted lives’ by nurturing the body, mind, heart, and soul and aim to reach the stars of achievement through toil and determination. Hence, we dream, plan, endeavour, and pray in that order to achieve our mission,” says Capt. AJ Singh.

State-of-the-art Modern Campus

Talking about the campus, Pinegrove School at Subathu is situated on the banks of a perennial brook which heightens the serenity of the campus. The gurgling of cascading waters creates a melodic symphony in the exotic valley of Kuthar on the Subathu- Kuthar-Kasauli – State Highway, at the height of about 3300 feet. The Dharampur branch is located at about 5000ft from the sea level on the Dharampur-Kasauli Road, 3 KM off the main Kalka-Shimla National Highway (NH-22) amidst the pristine idyllic environs of dense Pine forest and lush foliage with avian species serenading its inhabitants with veritable chirpings.

The school houses state-of-the-art wi-fi-enabled campuses, smart classrooms with hybrid capability, well-equipped science laboratories, tastefully designed dormitories, multi-sport Indoor Sports Complex, multiple floodlit playfields, oval-shaped Cricket Stadium‘The Arena’, world-class indoor Sporting complex and a state-of-the-art auditorium the Colosseum’, to name a few.

Apart from this, the school has installed solar panels to generate 100 KW of electricity. Apart from having about 20 Lakh litres of Rainwater harvesting tanks, it has also made serious efforts inrecharging groundwater as well.

A Habit of Self-Discipline through Experimental-based Learning

Maintaining a high happiness quotient and inculcating the habit of self-learning in students is challenging. However, under the efficient leadership of Capt. AJ Singh, the Pinegrove School, has found a way to achieve that effectively. The school has started programs like Nurtured Heart Approach (NHA) and awarding of Affirmative Measures, both of which are designed to handle varying degrees of intensity amongst children.

Over the years, the school has succeeded in grooming morally responsible individuals, which is no mean feat in the present scenario all the while, promoting numerous sustainable initiatives like organic farming and dairy farming under Eco Club apart from being a Zero Waste Organisation for the last 4 years.

To strengthen the diversity amongst its pupils, the Pinegrove School regularly organises the Staff and Student International Exchange Program with a number of institutes in the UK, USA, and South Africa.

Adapt, Adopt, and Redefine

Emphasising on the new methodology of modern education, Capt. AJ Singh says, “In a world where knowledge is a mouse-click away, the role of educator must change too. Keeping pace with this progressive outlook, we at Pinegroveadapted, adopted, and redefined the learning methodologies to reduce the knowledge gap and provided a secure online platform to all the students and faculty members.”

The School has adapted well to the online teaching methodologies be it delivering lecture through video conferencing, giving assignment, administering Online tests, sharing notes, uploading homework or viewing recordings of the lessons at a later time by students if they missed their online class due to some technical snag.

The Executive Director adds,“In view of the implementation of NEP-2020 a 5-day week teaching model withanactivity-based curriculum for Saturdays and Sundays has been introduced for children up to Class 10with the prime objective of competency-based learning through latest pedagogy and to provide improved participation in Public Speaking, Sports, Activities, Visual and Performing Art, Social Service, Experiential Learning, knowledge development, dual-language proficiency, and Problem Solving, as these play a vital role in shaping one’s personality.”

Trust the Learning Process and Grow

While explaining his process of dealing with and overcoming problems, Capt. AJ Singh shares, “In this volatile period in the history of mankind, clear vision and quick solutions are the need of the hour. The challenges that we face as a school leader is not only to take measures to guarantee continuity of learning but also to ensure a safe learning environment for the students. One must adopt new methodologies and train and equip our staff to meet the challenges of the future, be it continuous upgradation of the teaching-learning process or ensuring maintenance of high order pastoral care.”

Roadmap to Effective Future

Sharing his opinions on the future aspects of the Pinegrove School, Capt. AJ Singh states that their endeavour has always been about making teaching and learning a wholesome affair for students, irrespective of the student being at home or in school. The school has in fact devised an effective way to enhance student engagement by weaving the nine Cs into the curriculum that aims to increase their knowledge Content, boost their Confidence, hone their Communication skills, ensure maintenance of high degree pastoral Care, instil compassion for fellow human beings, enhance their creativity, develop courage to bear the consequences of ones action, build strength of character and finally develop Common-Sense which would ultimately lead to the ability of Problem Solving by acquisition of all the C’s.

Highlighting the schools’ aim for the future, Capt. AJ Singh says, “All the efforts are directed towards developing Physical Quotient, Intelligence Quotient, Emotional Quotient and Spiritual Quotient of the child so that we continue to maintainour USPs of being a Bully-free, Smoke-Free, Cash-free, Mobile-free, Drug-Free, Shout-Free, Punishment Free and Anger-free institution where children feel safe and secure and blossom into confident individuals.”

Educator’s Advice to the Future Educators

In his advice to youth who wish to venture into the education sector as educators, Capt. AJ Singh said, “As an educationist, my advice would be that we need to understand that education is a social-charitable-service and all excess of income over expenditure is incidental in nature, and the motive behind stepping into the field of education service shouldn’t be only for making a profit. All incidental excesses must be used for further development of the institution so that the students benefit from the policies of the management.”

He concludes, “The school management also needs to be transparent and keep pace with the shifting dynamics of the learning process with regular interaction, discussions, and anonymous feedback from the stakeholders over various issues in order to address and plug any discontentment or dissatisfaction.”

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