Sitaram Mill Compound Mumbai Public School crossed the 10-year milestone as the entire school came together to celebrate this momentous day. The team relived heartwarming memories of the years gone by with a virtual showcase hosted by two students of Sitaram’s first 10th grade cohort – Nirjala and Rutuja.
As our organisation celebrated this moment of pride, we spoke to a student, teacher and a parent to know more about their personal journey at Sitaram and what they cherish most about the school. Rutuja Nandgaonkar is a talented young student at Siatram, having just completed Grade 10. Kanisha Doshi, is a teacher leader at Sitaram, a person who has donned many hats since she first joined the team. Starting as a volunteer, Kanisha didi took on the role of teacher and then teacher lead, a position she has been serving faithfully for the last 3-4 years. Along with Rutuja and Kanisha, we also spoke to Shobha Bodke, Student Management Committee (SMC) member and proud parent of Class 10 Sitaram student, Rhea Bodke.
Here’s what Rutuja, Kanisha didi and Shobha didi had to say on the occasion of Sitaram, their beloved schools’s 10th birthday:
Q. What does Sitaram mean to you and the role it has played in your personal journey?
Rutuja: Sitaram for me is not just a school, but a vast family. I have always felt better being around my teachers and friends, they always create a safe atmosphere for me. I have enjoyed the 10 years of my school life and feel very lucky to be an alumni and student of Sitaram school.
Kanisha didi: Sitaram has played a pivotal role in my life, it’s a space I felt connected to even when I joined as a volunteer. There is something special about the school, be it the team that always puts the child at the centre, the students who continue to shine or even our parent engagement in our associations with them. This made me realise what an imperative role ‘culture’ plays in the upbringing of any school!
Shobha didi: Sitaram is a very valuable part of my life. It is only because of this school that my daughter today is receiving a high-quality education, that too in English. I had never expected to be able to see my daughter studying in an English-medium school, we believed that a Marathi school was our only option. Much like a parent in my life, Sitaram has come to become a part of my journey.
Q. What is your fondest memory/moment of Sitaram?
Rutuja: My fondest memory of Sitaram is celebrating Diwali in our school hall. That party is one of my favourite moments – we played garba, made a rangoli, painted diyas and dressed up for the occasion!
Kanisha didi: The fondest memory that comes to my mind is Sitaram’s initial years, when we used to continue teaching the children despite having temporary problems with our infrastructure. We resorted to using spaces like our dingy corridors for our assemblies, taking remedial classes on a water tanker in the playground area and even transferring our kindergarten children to a nearby temple!
Shobha didi: I have so many fond memories of Sitaram that it is very difficult to select just one favourite one. My top two have to be the first day of school in the academic year and the any school events and celebrations that all of us have been a part of over the years. Every year in June, Principal didi of Sitaram gives a warm and heartfelt welcome- complete with the puja and tika! This has to be one of my favourite and most memorable moments of school. Another is the many school events – whether it is festivals from Marathi or Hindi cultures, the annual day or even sports & P.T events with the balancing book and lemon spoon races. These are organised for booth students and parents, and through these Principal didi allows us to relive all our childhood memories! It is almost like the school belongs not only to the students, but also to us, the parents of Sitaram.
Q. What do you think is the most significant change in Sitaram over these past 10 years?
Rutuja: For me, it is the change in the way we learned. Initially, when I came to school, we had simple blackboards, textbooks and notebooks to learn. Then, a few years later, we got I-pads, projectors, televisions and other such digital technologies. These truly made learning fun and interesting.
Kanisha didi: I think the most significant changes Sitaram has made in these 10 years are two things. The first, the day we got I-pads into school. We have been able to enhance learning for the children in such creative and innovative ways , for eg- the group and individual projects created by the kids on certain topics, communicating their presentations, using learning based apps for Math concepts and even getting our K.G. babies to speak sentences into the voice feature! The second was during the pandemic, when we moved into virtual space. It was ensuring ALL our classes got onto the synchronous platform to teach and the written work done by the kids was posted on a technology platform too. The team and myself put our insecurities aside and placed the children at the centre of this decision. By the end of the year, we managed to even get high attendance & submission rates across all our classes.
Shobha didi: One of the biggest changes over the past 10 years has been the transformation of the infrastructure of Sitaram. When we first started, there were no proper provisions – water was leaking from somewhere, there were no proper bathrooms and the surrounding area was quite dirty. All of us, SMC parents, social workers, bhaiyas and didis went together to the BMC to inform them of these conditions and ensure that they are addressed. Honestly, we have struggled and worked very hard as a team to make sure that the building is a safe and secure place for our children to study. Nobody who saw Sitaram before this would believe that it is the same building – there has been so much development. We even counselled families in the neighbouring area to keep the surroundings clean, and Akanksha gave households dustbins explaining how waste can lead to the spread of diseases and that children need to study and be given a good education to be informed of such things. Akanksha has done many such things in the last 10 years, and I am very happy to see Sitaram children playing in a garden that is clean and well-maintained.
Q. What are some innovations and best practices of Sitaram that stand out for you?
Rutuja: The best practice that stands out for me are the house meetings held on the last Saturday of every month. We also had the chance to participate in different clubs once a week and I enjoyed being part of a club of my choice.
Kanisha didi: For me, a few include having a daily IP (written work) after every class, a TPS (Think Pair Share) during our classes, and the emphasis on value based learning for eg- Value based comprehensions and value based videos etc, in the higher grades.Our circle time classes are a great space for the kids to build a support system for each other and share. We try our best to leverage technology in our classes, conduct regular parent meetings and organization class-wise assemblies on a rotation basis. We even celebrate events each month as a whole school event!
Shobha didi: Technology is playing a big role in our children’s education and that is one of the most important innovations Sitaram has made in these 10 years. Our teachers, didis and bhaiyas are making sure that our children are equipped with new-age skills, our children know how to use I-pads and tablets well. The school is providing our children with a practical education that we cannot facilitate at home. I am confident that once a child passes out of Sitaram after completing Grade 10, they are well-prepared for life. The education goes beyond books, Akanksha is making sure that the children know about what is happening in the world and the role our leaders and children play. Just like the army prepares soldiers for war, Sitaram is preparing our children for life. I know that a Sitaram pass-out will not struggle in college because he/she has strong foundations. Akanksha is providing such an education that our children will grow up to be responsible citizens.
Q. What do you hope for Sitaram, as a hub of education to transform into in the future?
Rutuja: I want Sitaram to become a renowned school in the future, where even people from far-away places want their children to gain admission. I want my school to be known not only for I-pads and digital technology, but also for its emphasis on providing a high quality education.
Kanisha didi: My hope for Sitaram is to continue putting the child at the CENTRE like it has been doing all these years!
Shobha didi: My deepest desire and prayers is that Sitaram continues to support and educate our children even beyond Class 10. I think that I can also say that the collective hope of Sitaram parents is that the school goes on to become a centre of excellence, we are hoping that with God’s best wishes this will happen soon.
From starting with three grades to growing into an institution, from a group of teachers to a team of inspiring educators, Sitaram has continuously worked towards creating inclusive classrooms that are empowered by technology & digital tools for our Akanksha children. As Sitaram continues to be a pioneer in education, we wish the school many more years of joy and brilliance! We are proud of you Team Sitaram!