Aparna Magee is the Principal at Ramagya Group of Schools. Here, she speaks about her journey, motivations and love for her students.
An educationist, academician, teacher trainer, Aparna Magee is an exceptionally empathetic Principal. Her strength lies in the sheer love that she has for her profession, the people around her and life in general.
An extremely delightful personality, Principal Aparna Magee leads by example and believes in trying new things and keeping up with the times. Here, in this candid conversation, she speaks from the heart and brings out invaluable insights from her life and ideals.
Principal Aparna Magee is also a pro bono consultant for CSR and BPL related projects and activities.
Following is an excerpt from the interview Wonderpublish recently conducted with Principal Aparna Magee:
Q.1: Did you always want to be a teacher? How did you get into this line of work?
Ans: To be honest with you, I never dreamt of becoming a teacher. Although I was very fond of teaching from very early on, this was the last thing in my mind. From the sixth class onwards, I wanted to become an IPS officer. I was really inspired by the fictional story of IPS Kalyani Singh in this Doordarshan TV serial, Udaan.
So after finishing my graduation in my hometown, I came to Delhi to fulfil my dream. I prepared well and nearly got through but due to an immense personal loss in terms of the passing away of a loved one, couldn’t keep at my studies. Soon afterwards, I found the love of my life, my husband, who took great care of me and changed my life for good. And so in order to stay close with my loved ones, I chose not to pursue my career in civil services.
And then taking inspiration from my mother-in-law, who taught at Sophia Kota for 28 years, I too started on the journey of teaching in 1992-93.
Q. 2: Do you miss your students during these times?
Ans: A lot these days. Though we connect through online classes, workshops and other discussions on a regular basis, I miss my students. Especially, the 12th class students who are going through such a bad phase right now.
We are trying to keep kids active by doing different kinds of activities with them. We are facilitating interactions between the juniors and seniors. So something or the other is always going on.
Q. 3: Are you worried for the psychological health of your students?
Ans: Yes, very much. But having said that, Ramagya is known for sports and its mental health programs. We are very much into the psychological well being of our students. In the year 2019, we started Bal Sathi Program in our school in which we have a dedicated team of 5-6 councillors who counsel every child. So we have started counselling the entire class.
Speaking of other programs, we have ‘Know Your Brain’ where we show some good motivational and perspective building videos to our children. Lately, we have turned to scriptures also. We have done an entire Gita Saar with our children. Everybody attends these sessions and it makes a big difference in children’s lives. They learn life lessons like obedience, discipline from these stories. We have also introduced our kids to Panchtantra, Jatak Kathayen also.
But I think we, as a society and especially schools, need to work a lot on mental health of the children and educate parents about it.
Q. 4: Speaking of books, how are you taking the library to your students?
Ans: We have this reading program called, RAZ Plus which we have taken for our children. You just type a word on it, and you will find a book on it. We started experimenting with it with our primary school. Still, not many books are there online now. We purchase books from various sources and there are free books also. So for a particular class, when we talk about the library period, we have a particular book opened. All the students are reading it simultaneously and then we have a discussion on the book. So we are running our normal library class in a way so that the reading habit remains intact.
We also have this DEAR Program (Drop Everything And Read) which we started when schools were running normally. So in that particular time, we make sure that even the school peon is reading. So we are trying the same thing online also. So, we definitely try and take different programs that can help our children.
Q. 5: Do you think kids are really committed to self-learning or do you have to keep a watch over them?
Ans: We have to keep a watch on them [chuckles]. It’s a fact that only from destruction something new comes into the world. Besides online education was already there. And it is us Indians who take time to change our ways and traditions. So rather than calling online education an invention, I would call it a discovery. Something we already had but were not using it.
Now a lot of training has been done for teachers also. Not all the teachers were experts in teaching on online mediums. I myself am not a tech-savvy person. Now, we have all honed our skills so this is an advantage that has come out of this prolonged pandemic. But the most amazing thing I learnt was that the students have become teachers and the teachers have become students.