Ms. Monalisa Dash: Championing Life-Long Learning
Ms. Monalisa
Ms. Monalisa

As Haruki Murakami quotes in one of his prolific books, Kafka on the shore,

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Life is truly an infinite sequence of such terrible storms one after the other, which metaphorically signifies the challenges we face and sail through in our lives. Murakami indicates that these difficult experiences also tag along with a boundless scope of transformation and learning.

A lifelong learner acquires skillsets and knowledge, leveraging it for personal growth, and most importantly, a positive attitude focused on problem-solving. When such qualities are imparted in early childhood, it prepares the child for life in a true sense.

Ms. Monalisa Dash, a seasoned educator and Principal at Shantiniketan International School Hyderabad, strives to imbibe values that make children life-long learners. With this story at The Knowledge Review, Ms. Dash shares her learning experiences, journey, and values that drive her as an educator.

Moulding into a Seasoned Educator

As she expresses, Ms. Monalisa Dash’s journey as an educator has been very ‘experiential’. She started in 2005 when she joined Orchids as a class facilitator for grade 3 students. She says, “International Baccalaureate had been very new to the city of Hyderabad during that time. At the same time, I had my apprehension about conceptual understanding and teaching without books. But the learning, unlearning, and relearning that happened during the training helped me become a better facilitator and educationist. This whole process helped me be a life-long learner, and there was no looking back.” Her remarkable journey continued at Oakridge for two years as a grade 3 coordinator, followed by DRS International School for 12 years.

Ms. Dash’s role as a primary head at DRS International School was also an enduring one. She was also associated with Edify group, a sister concern of DRS, and helped establish many K12 schools. As an IB workshop leader and the school’s visiting team, her role allowed her to explore various schools and their work culture. Her role in Geethanjali, the global school which had started in the year 2014 as a founder, Principal, and Head of the School, had helped her understand the operations of establishing an International School from scratch.

Her experience had helped establish Shantiniketan International School, started in 2017, which is now one of the best Schools in the Sainikpuri Area and is affiliated to IB, CBSE, and CAIE curriculum. While recalling about the learning from this period, she asserts, “in the whole Journey, I realised that learning is a life–long journey and empowering the team with right training help us develop the right work culture and align the vision and mission of the School across all sections.”

Ms. Dash has been recognised for her relentless efforts to design better education has been appreciated and awarded several times. Some of her awards and achievements have been listed below:

  • Awarded for authoring 175 primary books for edify group of institution in 2014
  • Top 25 women entrepreneur of Telengana by Women’s Glory in 2016
  • Progressive Principal of India 2017 By Re-think India
  • Top 25 Leaders in Education Industry by Digital India
  • India 2016

Unveiling the Inspiration

While speaking about her role models, Ms. Dash recognises that numerous personalities had inspired her through her tenure in the education space, and to name just a few won’t suffice. She had been guided in knowing and understanding the education industry throughout her tenure by all the Principals and colleagues during her primary years. However, her role models have always been her parents. She had learned professionalism, problem-solving, and discipline from her father, while her mother helped her acknowledge the value of being persistent, patient, and staying grounded to her roots.

 SNIS: Learning Grounds for Future Leaders

While speaking about the intrinsic values and goals that drive Shantiniketan International School, Ms. Dash asserts that SNIS was built on the rocks, persistent hard work, values, and a philosophy to garner a generation of global leaders in various fields. She adds, “SNIS is not only an institution but a cumulative force, with the best staff, faculty, infrastructure, and curriculum endeavouring to provide a holistic learning and development of children, right from their formative years to maturity.”

SNIS focuses on the overall growth of children from classroom learning to real-life practicalities, incorporating the best educational courses and latest technologies. The school offers one of the best National and International syllabi to their pupil, focusing on fostering strong interpersonal skills, a healthy way of life, and a commitment to teamwork. The school ensures the involvement of parents, which entails them being fully informed about their child’s progress, achievements, and scope for further improvement.

Since its inception, SNIS has preserved an inclusive environment for a child to provide the best possible education for the students by developing knowledge, attitudes, and skills essential for life-long learning. While speaking about the teaching methodology at the school, Ms. Dash says, “Our internal management team evaluates not only pupils’ development, but the progress of a teacher in taking the students to a higher echelon of learning and growth. With close internal monitoring as a quality assessment tool, we aim to “walk the talk” and cater to the expectations of a generation exposed to global culture. At the same time, we intend to strengthen their awareness about their roots.”

As an institution, SNIS acknowledges education as a tool of empowerment and has policies to provide free education to the under-privileged and down-trodden. SNIS has also adopted Aganwadi School and constantly supports them with resources needed to improve the quality of education for all.

She believes that as an Institute, the criteria to reach the learning outcomes should be clear to the students, and the students and facilitators can collaboratively decide it. As an institution, SNIS has constantly been striving for relevantly engaging, enduring, and challenging learning for students.

Recognising Challenges in Education

Ms. Dash sheds light on the challenges faced by the educators to implement the process of learning, unlearning, and relearning as driving the culture of any school. She believes that the vision of a school should be aligned across the school community, which at times becomes challenging for a leader. She also identifies that sometimes the parents struggle to accept the challenges in learning faced by their ward. At the same time, the implementation of differentiation in the classroom is another challenge that an educator faces.

Stepping into the Future

Stressing on the constant focus on differentiation and inclusiveness in the school, Ms. Dash expresses the need to make education future-ready by implementing the needed resources. She adds, “Ensuring that the kids themselves are problem-solvers and make choices in life induces a never wavering confidence in them. I would like to continue providing growth-inducing learning, where the engagements are relevant, challenging, and enduring for the students.”

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