School Enrichment Program

What are School Enrichment Programs (SEPs)?

Broadly SEPs are planned as an extension of education at the school.They are informal sessions that expose children to ideas and programs that are not part of the school curriculum but essential for the overall developmenyt of the child’s personality. We hope that such informal sessions will make learning more enjoyable and connected to the ‘real world’.

Children have a natural curiosity to know – which the stress of the modern day education system tends to kill, slowly and cruelly. The conventional ‘subjects’ also compartmentalize learning, put the emphasis on examinations and marks, and encourage rote learning, destroying original thinking.

We felt that, without disturbing the academic curriculum of the school, it would be possible to introduce events and activities in after school hours, that would rekindle interest in learning, expose children to a wide range of knowledge areas, connect learning to real life, and give children opportunities to think for themselves and apply their learning in their own lives.

From the start, we have taken care to maintain our two principal operational goals- that these activities would not put any additional teaching burden on the teachers; and that they would not tax students/parents financially. We have always strived to carry out only such activities as have the consent of the headmistress and the management.

With the initial push from the former headmistress, Ms. Shobha Venkateswarn and continued enthusiastic support of the present headmistress Ms. Mangala Panchapakesan and their colleagues, we have been able to conduct such programmes in each academic year beginning in 2008 and continuing through the year 2011-12.

We have received positive feedback from the students and teachers who have participated in these programmes.

Enrichment Programs for Teachers

Theater Classes for students:

During the Academic year 2010-11, we introduced students from Std. 9 to Theater Classes. This was a run-away success and based on this experience in the year 2011-12, we are having these classes for Stds. 9 and 10.

The world we live in is growing more and more challenging day by day. Besides the academic programme that everyone has to deal with, our children also face a bewildering array of exciting developments in communication, technology, entertainment, and face enormous choices in career opportunities, at the same time as they see the world growing and more polarized into ‘rich’ and ‘poor’. There are also other dangerous divisions that disturb our peace and endanger our lives. In such a world, it is important that our children learn skills that will empower them to think for themselves, make decisions confidently, work with people in groups, be creative in finding solutions and expressing themselves.

A fun way to acquire many of these skills is through theatre workshops.

We have identified a group called Theatre Professionals, a company that finds theater practitioners who are willing to bring their professional theater skills to work with school children.

The theatre programme will actively do the following:

i. Enhance creativity and creative problem solving.

ii. Develop socialisation and team work skills

iii. Becoming good storytellers and developing stronger communication skills

The group is already working with Bombay International School, and Sadhana School for children with Down Syndrome.

These instructors don't look at drama just as a means to put up a school production, they approach it as a subject and a tool that enriches and enhances education.

This year, we arranged 5 workshops, two for students and 3 for teachers, in collaboration with this group. The teachers’ workshop had different goals from the students’. Teachers were exposed to several games, exercises and strategies that they could usefully use in their classrooms to make teaching and learning more fun and more effective. Both the teachers and students who participated in the workshops found them extremely enjoyable as well as educative. In the coming year we are trying to introduce an ambitious theatre programme. Because we feel that theatre is the most powerful tool we can use to teach our children skills for life.

From the academic year beginning June 2010, Theater classes will be held once a week - for one hour - for each division of Standard 9. There will be a total of 25-30 sessions through out the year. The classes will be conducted by professional theater teachers from a group called "Theatre Professionals" One teacher from our school will also be assisting in these classes which will be conducted in batches of 30 students. As a unique experiment, we will be video recording the year-long course of two batches to document and research the effects that this program has on the progress of the students. These classes which will cost several lakhs of rupees will be funded, in the main, by our group through donations from well-wishers.Though taught as a subject, it is pure fun and no examinations will be held in this subject at the end of the year. However, periodic assessment of progress will be made.

The year long classes started on July 7, 2010 and ended successfully in March 2011.

The impact of these classes on the students was so positive that both teachers and students (now in std. 10) made a strong plea to continue these classes into Std. 10. This was done and in the academic year 2011-12 both Std.9 and Std. 10 classes have Theater Classes. In Dec. 2011, Std. 10 kids who have now had "theater Experience for two years" put up about 10 plays at the Bharatiya Hall. These plays were of high quality and content and hailed by all present.

Since its inception, till December 2011, our batch has contributed close to Rs.4,00,000 for the conduct of the theater classes and we hope other batches will help us fund this activity on a continuing basis.

Syudents assistanceship Fund

We conducted a survey earlier in 2010 which helped us identify students from economically severely disadvantaged families. Our group has embarked on an ambitious program to collect a corpus to provide some financial support to these students. We would be grateful if the PTA can guide and help us in this endevour.

How can the PTA help?

We have always felt that none of our programs can be successful beyond a limit without active participation of teachers and parents. After all you have high stakes in such programs. We have been getting steady support from the teachers, and we have already approached them for more formal support in the form of coordinators for the SEPs and six have already volunteered, and we are very grateful for this enthusiastic help. Similarly we are sure that among the parents group there will be numerous ideas for more and comprehensive activities for children. We would be delighted to work with parents in achieving their goals and aspirations for their children, as far as SEPs, the “Beyond Academics” programs are concerned.

Our eventual aim is that we will be able to draw on the resources available with all alumni - not just of our batch - but also of other batches as well as the parents and teachers in the school to help in the enrichment of school activities - both curricular and extra curricular, and thus enrich our children’s education.

To sum up, the following are our expectations from the PTA

1. Form a small core group of 4-5 members to coordinate SEP activities with the School and us.

2. To brainstorm with other parents ideas for such activities

3. To locate resource persons for carrying out some of these activities

4. To help in the actual conduct of the SEPs on the days that they are scheduled in the school.

5. In consultation with the headmistress explore the possibility of establish an “after hours” group to help children with their home work.

6. Eventually, we hope that the PTA will take over the SEP programs and work directly with the school.

We have a dream of making our school more student and teacher friendly, the school years to be memorable and pleasant for our kids, and the environment conducive to making them well informed members of the society. We cannot do this alone. The school management and the faculty have supported us enthusiastically this past two years; with support from the parents we can take a quantum leap in the scope and variety of activities.

Come join us.. our children will definitely learn while they are at school…let them also have fun while they learn…

How can you help?

If you are an Alumnus of the SIES School or just someone, anywhere in the world, with a interest in school education and if you have suggestions and ideas for our SEPs, we would be delighted to hear from you!

For further information or for passing on your suggestions and ideas, please write to moderator@sies1969.net