How Apeejay School is safeguarding the mental health of the Teachers and Students to tide over this pandemic and continuing learning

By Kiranjit Singh Pannu

Over the last nearly 50 years, Apeejay School – with an unrelenting focus on the emotional, spiritual, physical and mental growth of the child, are enabling learners to imbibe the three powerful virtues of a truly educated individual – Strength, Vision and Wisdom. The schools have won innumerable accolades for academic excellence and its integrated course is an effort to prepare the students for the competitive exams including IITJEE and NEET.

Apeejay School, Bhubaneswar

My first four months of working with the school Board and the core teams has been an exciting, empowering and learning experience. Our schools are in the process of technology enabled academic, administrative and skill based transformation to prepare our students for the future. We are focussing on the emotional, physical and skill based development of our children in a happy environment at our schools. We want the children to feel safe, secure and the schooling be a pleasure for them.

The interesting part of my role as Chief Executive Officer of Apeejay School is not limited to strategic planning only, I am also involved in the academic planning and explore innovative and creative ideas to engage pupils. School Education is about preparing children for life. I truly feel blessed to be part of the Apeejay Schools, where every child matters.

Apeejay Surrendra Group Chairman Mr Karan Paul and the Trustee Ms Indrani Dasgupta Paul are two of the kindest, truly humanistic leaders that I have come across in my career. They have the will, courage and desire to make a difference to the society. Read the latest edition of the magazine Karma http://www.apeejayschool.in/Karma2020.pdf

Apeejay School, Haldia

I would like to share a message from Apeejay Surrendra Group Chairperson Emeritus, Mrs Shirin Paul- “The support to education is part of the value system of the Apeejay Surrendra Group. We believe that education will build a better future for all. Through our schools we hope to make education an enjoyable and stress free process of learning that nurtures the talent of each individual and enables her to grow into a responsible, productive and positive human being and an asset to the nation. We realize that India’s asset is its talented young people and our support has been directed at honing and nurturing these talents. We want to create the conditions under which young people can seek new ways of exploring knowledge frontiers and develop their potential and we hope that eventually some of them would be the thought leaders of tomorrow” 

All the four units of Apeejay Schools are setting a benchmark in the education sector of all the regions. Apeejay Schools at Park Street and Salt Lake Kolkata run the CBSE Board from Lower Kindergarten to Grade 12 with streams of Science, Humanities and Commerce electives in the high school; Apeejay School at Bhubaneswar, a CBSE affiliated school from LKG to Grade 10, will be applying for the Grade 11 and 12 CBSE affiliation for the coming year; the newly launched Apeejay School Haldia, another proposed CBSE futuristic school commenced its operations from 2020-2021 session and will go on to become the TOP most choice of schools in that region in the coming years.

Apeejay School provide technology enabled, CCTV monitored safe, secure and healthy child friendly campus spaces that the students love to come to and explore as part of their learning and school journey. The Multiple Intelligences of every child are given key importance by the highly qualified, experienced, trained and dynamic teaching faculty of our schools. Along with the Core Academic competency, the school focuses on the Sports and Curricular activities for a holistic development of the students. Through a well laid down, planned, effective and efficient 21st century Engaged learning curriculum, the children are trained to explore, experience and find out the answers to the questions. The schools have the latest technology- enabled Science labs, Math labs and Computer labs. The Class rooms are designed with interactive boards and academic digital content to cater to the Blended teaching- learning for the children. The institution’s rich history of Alumni in IITs, Universities abroad and in Higher Echelons of Service are a true reflection of its glorious success and academic achievements. The School is truly inclusive and has been awarded repeatedly.

When the Covid 19 pandemic struck the world in March 2020, the Apeejay School were the first ones to effectively and efficiently shift over from completely offline to Online blended teaching- learning. Our training and development departments, under the Strategic action teams of coordinators and HODs, got down to identifying the training and professional development needs of the faculty and providing expert webinars and on job trainings. Our online and offline support to our faculty and children in this technology enabled online schooling has been 24/7, web enabled and has helped to ease the burden and stress on the teachers and children. The hardware, software, content support and training enabled the teachers to deliver the curriculum as planned, with exceptional results for each child. The curriculum plans, lesson plans, syllabus breakups, assessments and academic interventions, throughout the last academic year, have been completely child friendly, as per the guidelines of the board and with the intention to ensure that the schooling is a pleasure rather than pressure for kids.

The Emotional and Behavioural support to the children, teachers and parents have been the key focus area for the Apeejay School throughout the last year 2020-2021 and as we commenced the new academic year 2021-2022. Online professional school counselling support and after school help has been provided both to the students and teachers to deal with this new normal, stressful online world and environment. Teacher support sessions, parenting support sessions and good screen bad screen webinars have helped all stakeholders to cope with the online schooling and to ensure that they are updated with all norms and knowledge. Through quality Circle time, engagement time and happy quotient sessions/teaching, the teachers at Apeejay Schools have ensured that each child is wanting to come back to the classroom every day.

We, as part of our support to the parents, our student community and the trying time that the pandemic has put everybody under, have implemented and followed all guidelines from the Governments, Education departments and the CBSE Board.

To ensure that the pre-primary and primary children are not losing their continuity of education, we have been proactively supporting, providing benefits and scholarships for the students for their school education, at Haldia, as well as the other locations throughout the last year, continuing into this year. The COVID 19 pandemic, although, made it mandatory for schools to shift over to Online teaching learning, but it signalled the final quantum shift of schooling and education from a regular offline method to a more engaging futuristic blended teaching learning method.

The Digital blended teaching- learning is here to stay and surely the future of the schooling in the world. It makes the classrooms much more engaging, child centred, with lots of focus on WHY, WHAT, WHEN and HOW of the subject. We are commencing the facilitation, concept building and guidance classes, in collaboration with expert faculty, for our students to prepare them to succeed in the IIT JEE and NEET competitive exams   These initiatives are to make the children feel more empowered, application-oriented and the shift is happening from Rote learning to concept based customised learner- centric learning.

The New Education Policy envisaged this transformation and the last year has been a monumental shift by all schools in the right direction towards implementing the NEP guidelines. The Cons are far too less compared to the Pros and with structured planned approach towards using the technology positively the students will benefit in the long run.

I have had a unique experience of shifting with my family from my earlier job with the educational organisation to Apeejay School Kolkata right in the middle of the pandemic hit year.  The year brought out so many personal facets of survival instincts, learning to value small things, importance of family, importance of education, healthcare, physical fitness, mental well-being and importance of happiness.

The pandemic year gone by has been similar to my life as an officer on Indian Naval warships, where every minute was challenging, the never- say- die attitude was tested and the power of honesty, integrity, passion, commitment and team work came to light amidst the challenging situations.

Kiranjit Singh Pannu is Chief Executive Officer, Apeejay Schools

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