Effective schools are led by great principals. Teachers thrive, pupils engage with essential curriculum, and school administration operations work efficiently under their direction. The usefulness of school principals is well recognized, and research backs it up. One of the most crucial variables affecting a student’s academic progress is the role of the principal.
This is understandable given that administrators are the leaders of their schools, and their actions have an impact on school culture, parent involvement, and overall community happiness. Many motivated educators aim to become principals because of the level of impact they have as well as the rewards that come with the position.
However, only few of them make a mark of excellence through their astonishing work. One prominent name in that list is Sivakumar Bellan, the Principal of Cambridge Public e-School.
In an interview with The Knowledge Review, Sivakumar unfurls his journey in the education field, the challenges he faced, and the importance of value-based education system. Below are the glimpses of the interview:
Please introduce yourself to our readers and your professional journey so far.
My native place is the queen of hills, Ooty, where I completed my school in Green Valley public school. I pursued my bachelor’s degree in English literature from Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya and master’s from Bharathiyar University. Journalism was my favourite subject, so I pursued it much later after my second year of teaching experience.
I started my career as a teacher of English in a residential school. I opted for a residential school because I studied in a residential setup, and I felt it was the best for any child’s grooming. Work took me to places like Karaikudi, Qatar, Singapore, Port Blair, and presently in Kaveripattinam. I always enjoyed working with children in the school. I felt they can be moulded if they have good teachers for guidance.
The Lawrence School, Lovedale gave me a wonderful exposure in understanding a true boarding school set-up which changed my perspective of schooling. I have served in CBSE schools and have enjoyed being a trainer for various modules of CBSE. I have been a member of inspection committee and have advised many schools during the process of inspection.
Who inspired you to become an educator?
I always admired my teachers under whom I was groomed. The credit goes to my primary teachers who gave me the confidence when I was low and shy. They are the reason behind my choice of being a teacher. The school in Port Blair helped me build my leadership skills as the management gave me free hand to manage the school. I still remember the day of my interview where I was asked to write my views on education and my belief on the same. I later understood that it was only on the write-up I submitted, I was selected.
Tell us about your institution and how you got appointed for the role of principal.
The value system of any school will make or break an individual. The day cum boarding school is such a wonder by its appearance itself. The sprawling campus is a host of natural vegetation. In addition to it, the green drive enriched the campus with trees those are sources of rich oxygen. This campus hosted plenty of programmes such as career guidance to universities abroad, Helen-O-Grady theatrics, memory tricks by a group of educationists from Singapore, Director of NSD New Delhi chapter, and so on and so forth.
The then Lieutenant Governor of Port Blair visited the campus for an inauguration of a school programme. The Annual day and the sports day were worded one of the best in the history of any schools in the UT.
To start a CBSE school in a developing village is still a challenge as the parents are stuck to mark oriented education, which led astray of our value-based education system. People from ISRO visit the campus every six months to teach the students the latest updates of NASA and encourage them to build small models of robots or missiles. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s visit was a purposeful one for the school. He was invited to inaugurate an ORGANIC FARM in the school campus to insist healthy living to the society through the school.
COVID-19 has put additional responsibility on the education sector in terms of online educational trends, hygiene, and safety precautions. How did you adapt to these circumstances whilst preparing and safeguarding your students for the same?
The present COVID-19 was a bolt from the blue for the first one month. We were stranded but were able to adopt the new normal with a lot of training on the virtual platforms. Every teacher had to buy mobile phones that were able to contain educational platforms. The procurement was tough because of financial crunches as well.
But the management was kind enough to help the teachers in this regard. It turned into a boon when the teachers were equipped with the required knowledge of the virtual classrooms and the same way hand hold parents of the first generation in understanding the concept of virtual classrooms. Though the process was slow initially, it picked up well.
Which branch of educational philosophy do you and your institute subscribe to and implement in your classrooms? And why?
A value-based education is the best way to educate a child in school. The value-based system of the school should be so strong that it doesn’t dilute our rich culture. We must embrace change in technology but should never let out ancient knowledge fade as it is a strong foundation of our education system. While adapting the development in science and technology, this knowledge must be strong in its roots of values.
This will take it to greater heights. This kind of righteousness will build a better society. If the truth prevails in the heart through the school education system, then the whole generation is safe. I am happy that the NEP 2020 has brought so many changes in the education system. The best part is the research-based pattern of learning. Now it’s time for us to check on our authenticity. Research papers are in plenty but it’s our duty to check on the best one that suits.
I would like to emphasize on higher education degrees and teaching professional courses which provide every teacher the right way of education, even before he/she appears for an interview in a school. All teachers should be passionate about the profession they have chosen. This will actually build the confidence level which will cascade during teaching. Empowering teachers should be the next postulate on any higher official agenda to create learning space filled with knowledge and merged with values.
New ventures and start-ups are real challenges, and I am inclined to those adventures. I wish to see children performing rather than only watching. Any programmes at school should be hosted by the students and run by them throughout. Students learn by doing and they get better when we involve and encourage them.
Please share what lies ahead for you and your institute in the near future.
I would like to see India as the destination for educational transformation. India should be the hub for employment of the highest order. This can be the bringing back of the past history like the buried history of Nalanda University which is spoken to till date as one of the largest residential universities that catered to the world.