Educational Space in India is titling to find the ideal balance between the New Education Policy, 2020 and the traditional globally adopted and accepted method of education. While the most prominent schools are also struggling to cope with the industry requirement, some schools, colleges, and institutes are gliding through this high tide of the enhanced education system.
As the philanthropist and prominent American businessmen Eli Brown once said, “You can have great teachers, but if you don’t have a good principal, you won’t have a good school.” His quote justifies the dangling situation of the education system in India and how good principals are shaping the students’ future.
Over the years, the principal’s role as an eminent educator has evolved deliberately. Rather than just guiding students to a bright future, the principal turns out to be the catalyst for imbibing a child’s life values and ethics.
Shabnam Bhowmick, the Principal of Podar International School, Muzaffarpur, has been an eminent leader that is leading her school and students towards a bright future. Being groomed in an atmosphere that revolves around teachers and educators, teaching and managing came naturally to her.
Being a teacher, journalist, and prolific leader, she addressed the problem in the education space. She found the ideal balance in this transition phase of education in India. Let’s look at a journalist’s journey to becoming one of the most preeminent principals in India.
Journalist to Educator: An Adventure of a Lifetime
Shabnam Bhowmick grew up in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Being a child of two prominent educators in central government schools, she grew up and groomed alongside educators her entire life. Teaching as a career choice seemed very obvious to her, yet she chose what she enjoyed the most, journalism.
However, she completed her bachelor’s in Chemistry from Pondicherry University, but she lost her father during her final year of graduation. Honouring her late father’s last wish, she completed her bachelor’s degree in education and enrolled on the Mass Communication course at Nagpur University and joined the then-largest circulated newspaper. Later adding another laurel to her name, she also received her master’s degree in English Literature from Nagpur University and worked as a professional journalist for ten years.
It was in the year 2010 when she turned to the teaching profession, starting her journey as a primary teacher. With constant upgrades, professional development courses, and teaching experience in some of the prominent schools across the country, she joined the Podar International School as the Founder Principal for the Muzaffarpur branch.
Choice by Compulsion
Looking back at the start of her journey in the education sector, Shabnam Bhowmick says, “I came into teaching not really by choice, but by compulsion. After the birth of my first child, it was difficult to continue in journalism due to the erratic schedule. I decided to join a school ‘for a few years’. I joined Edify School in Nagpur as the homeroom teacher of grade 2. I was in charge of a class of 6-7-year-olds and immediately fell in love with the super energetic, smart group. Soon I realised teaching was something I really truly enjoyed: this was my calling.”
This incredible love for teaching changed her perception of education, and from her long teaching career of ten years, she had formed some strong bonds with her students. “I feel privileged that many of my students from all over India are in touch with me regularly,” she added.
Learning from the Best
Shabnam Bhowmick’s parents were teachers, and they were her role models in her quest to become a prominent educator. She learned from her father that students are family as well, and we as educators should always be there for them.
Expressing her views on her parent’s teaching style, she says, “Both my parents, even after over two decades of experience in teaching the same classes, would prepare for their next class, as they felt that it would be disrespectful to the students to walk into a class unprepared. Even today, I prepare well for the next day, and I train my teachers to do the same. Another thing that I learnt from my parents was never ever to snub the curiosity of a child. No question is ‘silly’ or ‘irrelevant’. Kids have questions; they have every right to get the answer.”
Podar International School’s Preeminent Principal
Podar International School was established in 1927 Sheth Anandilal Podar with a focus to drive and motivate the traditional Indian values of honesty, integrity, and service. The father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi stands testimony for this fact as he was the first president of Anandilal Podar Trust.
Today, Podar group has 136 Podar International Schools and 79 Podar Partner Schools with a combined strength of 1,80,000 and the support of 7,600 dedicated and loyal staff members. Following are the mission, vision, and values of the school:
Mission: Podar International School is on a mission to provide opportunities to students through a stimulating safe and supportive environment for attaining personal mastery and team spirit through collaborative learning.
Vision: To achieve excellence by creating globally competent, ethical and high performing world citizens through world-class education.
Core Values: Innovation, Openness, Committed and Long-Term Goal
Overcoming the Metamorphosis of Teaching Practices
Emphasising on the challenges faced by Principals in general, Shabnam Bhowmick says, “The biggest challenge faced by Principals across the country is bringing parents to accept the metamorphosis of teaching practices. Teaching is now concept-based, whereas parents find it difficult to understand why the age-old tried and tested method of rote-learning should be a thing of the past. Extensive use of technology in education is still frowned upon, as the role of a teacher is not as visible to them as earlier.”
She also stressed on the fact that keeping a team of great teachers also contributes heavily to maintaining the education quality at the school. “Teaching is not a profession of choice for the youth of today. But the society expects teachers to be absolute masters of their subjects as well as everything else they do in the school, including igniting young minds,” she added.
- Founder Principal, Podar International School, Muzaffarpur.
- Posted as Observer and Head Examiner for CBSE Board exams.
- Conceptualised a three-day mega inter-school event, “LitFest” in my previous school. Successfully conducted the event for four years.
- During my tenure as the Vice Principal, the previous institution bagged 3rd Rank in Times Education Awards for two consecutive years.
- Certificate of recognition for extraordinary contribution in the field of education by Best Principals in 2022
- Times Woman Extraordinaire Award in 2020 for contribution to education
- Best Zonal Teacher Award by Science Olympiad Foundation in 2020
- Dainik Jagran Guru Samman for outstanding contribution to the development of education in Bihar in 2018 and 2019
- Nation Builder Award by Rotary Club Patna City Samrat in 2017
Education as a Tool of Empowerment
Shabnam Bhowmick considers education as the key to the overall development of society. Stressing on empowerment, she says, “The Podar Group is proud of the fact that they promote inclusive education. No child coming to any Podar International School is ever turned down. The dedicated Inclusive Education Cell continuously trains teachers and monitors the development of special children in our schools. My school does not conduct any admission tests or parents’ interviews for admission. Every child is treated as equal, and education is provided to everyone.”
Preaching Holistic Education for a Bright Future
Envisioning the future of Podar International School, Shabnam Bhowmick expresses, “I consider myself lucky to find an organisation that does not only preach holistic education but also practices it. Students in my school are taught Sanskrit shlokas, and classical music and are also encouraged to create their own rap songs.”
Being set in the rural setting in Bihar, Shabnam aims to ensure that the dream with which the students have joined the school is materialised. She also encourages the students to be updated about the happenings worldwide while exposing them to a variety of books, music, cuisine, culture and art forms.
“I feel the most important thing to teach children is to be responsible: towards the society, our country and the Earth. There are a few projects that are in the pipeline that will make my school the most energy efficient and eco-friendly school in the region,” she added.
A Principal’s Advice to Future Educators
From growing up in the neighbourhood of teachers to becoming one of the preeminent principals of India, Shabnam Bhowmick shares a piece of advice to future educators, “Teachers have the ability to impact the lives of children; they have the opportunity to touch the future. Those who want to be teachers should never forget that they are handling human lives. They will be watched, and their actions will be emulated by their students.”
“Teaching is a responsible profession, and teachers go through a lot of pressure to live up to the expectation of the society. Also, they should be ready to keep updating themselves and be aware of the world around them,” she added.