Accomplishing Something

It is not easy to implement change. Why not, you ask? Well, I could go into yogic mode and talk about the mind, its habits, and la la la… – all things that are good and true. But no. Implementing change is tough because, even in an institution as small as ours, there are a lot of players and aspects involved in everything. All the time, we hear people saying: “You guys should do this”, or “This doesn’t work. Do it like that”. Ideas are all well and good, but then there is reality. Dense, complex, intense. Does that mean that we should give up? No. Rather, to me, it means that we should cheer up every time we successfully implement a new support program at MPA, whether it be in academics, residential life or spiritual life.

So, picture in your mind the drums rolling as I highlight for you three particularly new and successful programs introduced this year:

First, let’s give a big round of mental applause to Kirandeep Kaur, Principal of Academic, who bravely fights to ensure that students have 45 minutes of supervised study time every afternoon of the week, from 3:15 to 4:00 P.M., plus 1 hour and 30 minutes every Saturday morning.

I use the verb “to fight” on purpose, because it was a fight on both sides of the fence, between students and invigilators. We screamed a lot, sometimes we cried, we also had to chase each other on occasion but, at the end of the day, it has made a difference, not only in the immediate results of the children but also in the mindset of the entire school, recognizing the importance of working together towards academic excellence. And in this case “together” is not just an empty word used for PR purposes. This study time was made possible because Amrit Singh, Director of Residential Life and Jugat Guru Singh, Executive Principal gave up some of their privileges in the afternoon to accommodate the academic schedule. It was also made possible because teachers volunteered to stay after school to supervise the students.

Next, maybe because “fortune favours the brave”, as they say, we decided to open a café in the school. Oui, mesdames et messieurs! On the weekend, you can now get a cinnamon roll or a French croissant, along with a juice. The Bluebird Café is a project led by our Economics teacher, Amrit Kaur, who is using it as a class project with the 10B and 11A students. The school gracefully supports the project by loaning money to the café, and Amrit Singh, worked closely with those involved to create a safe, sustainable space, above the girls’ dorm. Students now run the café under Amrit’s supervision, and the idea for the future is to have the students teaching each other to be fully independent. Some of you parents who came for Parents’ Day had a chance to try the café, and we can’t wait to welcome you again next year.

Our latest project does not sound as exciting but, like the two previous ones, it has a positive impact on the whole student body, I believe. On February 8th, 2014, we launched a new tutoring program. Students who feel the need for extra academic help now have the opportunity to come, on a voluntary basis, and see a tutor 2 hours a week, on the weekend.

We now have 19 students enrolled, which is nearly 20% of the school, from grades 4 to 12 in English, mathematics, science and business. Five teachers now come on the weekend to teach small groups of no more than 7 children. This is an experimental program this year, and we are thinking about making it mandatory next year. Once again, I could tell you about all the hassle and hustle to get the kids to be on time, to bring their books and pens, to keep up despite the extra workload on their sacred weekend. But, as Kirandeep Kaur would say, “Oh well. A little hard work never hurt anyone?”

That is the privilege of duty: the pain gives way to the simple and yet incredibly joyful feeling you get when you accomplish something.

-Meherpal Kaur

 Pictures of the New Cafe