I have been with Vidya Vanam from the inception in 2007. In these twelve years, I haven’t only taught batch after batch of four year olds, I have also been a student myself! I remember singing a tribal song for paati and she encouraged me to pursue a degree in classical music. I am now doing an MA in history. Vidya Vanam was the first place I worked in outside of my village and my children are so affectionate! I remember I had once taken leave without telling my class. The next day, I was put to a cross examination by a 7 year old boy. “We tell you when we take leave so you should also tell us when you do so that we don’t worry.” Have you ever heard of a teacher asking for leave from her students? Our school isn’t like a school. It is home.
A community where we love, share and help each other grow. A community because of which I can say with confidence that my colleagues and I can run a junior school by ourselves!
I joined the school in 2008 right after I completed my TTC. What I love most about the school is how it nurtures children and students alike, to become confident. As a teacher, I have had to think about how I can teach children different concepts without books and travelled across the country to various schools to help in this process.
Our children too are not afraid to speak up or question things. Most importantly, they are not afraid to try. Foreigners frequent our school to volunteer and often sit in with the children. The Montessori children are acquainted only with the language of their tribe and it is in school that they pick up Tamil and English. Yet, they make an effort to converse with the volunteers, asking us for help as and when they need it. To be able to see children have confidence in themselves is extremely heartening. It is not just to teach our children but also learn from them that I hope to work in Vidya Vanam for as long as I possibly can.
I am both a parent and teacher of the school. When I joined the school as a teacher, I had a diploma. However, it had always been my dream to get a degree. So I pursued a BA in Tamil side by side with my job. Once I finished that, I did a course on the Montessori style of education and was in charge of setting it up here and training all the teachers on how to use these materials. This is something I am really happy about as it is something I have done for our school. I didn’t stop studying there. I then pursued a B. Ed and an MA. I am in education so it is extremely important for me to equip myself adequately to deal with the challenges of this field.
My daughter now goes to a city school and this experience of being a parent in a mainstream school has been extremely important to my experience as a teacher in Vidya Vanam.
I used to live in the city but I didn’t want my son to receive an education in the city. I grew up surrounded by these hills and studied here and I wanted my son to have the same experience, the freedom that comes from living away from the city. His only condition for joining Vidya Vanam was that I too take up a job here.
I’ve been here for the last seven years. I remember one particular annual day when Gopal Krishna Gandhi, who was the chief guest asked the children what they wanted to be when they grew up. One boy said he wanted to be like Dr Salim Ali. We had performed a dance drama on birds the previous year but none of the teacher knew that it had impacted that child so much. He took it very seriously and read so much that we, the teachers used to go to him whenever we had a doubt about birds! To get a child to commit to something as a career option as early as class seven or eight has been very inspiring and humbling.
I was first a parent of the school. I joined as a teacher after attending a tailoring course that happened in the school seven years ago. I teach the Montessori section and I absolutely love it. The children love it – they play, arrange numbers without being aware of what exactly they are doing. The experience of playing and teaching with Montessori materials is something that nobody should miss out on! I love making projects too!
As both a parent and teacher of the school, what I have really loved I the freedom given by the school to us. I love interacting with people – be it with the people who visit school or the ones we meet when we go for workshops.
I have been with the school right from the beginning –I am one of four teachers who have seen it grow – the experiments behind the ‘theme based’ learning, the student run assemblies. None of these things happened in a day – it took time and effort. I have really enjoyed all the thinking that has gone behind developing the curriculum to what it is today -- how can we teach the children, what to teach them at a given level, ,these have been constantly questioned. My favorite time of the year has to be annual day. Each child has a special talent and to see them act, dance and sing makes me very proud.
In my last twelve years here, every year has been different; the children are learning, we are learning. What has stayed the same is their enthusiasm to come to school. Here is all I have to say – I am extremely proud to be working here.
The school has so far seen three batches of students pass out from standard ten. The first ever batch to pass out now find themselves in college while the other two batches have gone on to pursue their high school education in schools across Coimbatore and places in and around Anaikatti.
The school currently has strength of three hundred students right from kindergarten to standard eleven. Music, art, dance and academics form a part of the children’s routine. 60% of the current population is comprised of the local tribes.
Three major events take place in every academic year -- Project Day, Annual Day and Sports Day. For Project Day, a theme is picked and all the students work on building models that best reflects the theme to them. Sports Day and Annual Day see enthusiastic participation from all the students. There is no concept of 'prizes' at school -- the participation of each child is celebrated.
Students are provided kanji, lunch and an evening snack before they leave. A school bus that covers a radius of twenty kilometres -- from Anaikatti to some villages in Kerala takes care of the transport for the students.
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