19 May 2013

From The Director’s Desk

As we come up to the end of the year and the last newsletter, I am happy to reflect back on the many areas of development in the school. Increasingly over this time, Pathways School Noida has established a reputation for high quality teaching and learning together with a rich co-curricular programme all of which strengthen our move towards being an institution of excellence. 

The school’s commitment to excellence was recognized in various independent surveys: despite being a new school we were adjudged in the top 6 in the NCR and the top 20 in the country. The support from our parent community remains impressive and is an important reason for the goodwill the school has earned.               SLC Conference

Our various programmes involving parents are wonderfully well attended – from days like Parent and Me, Sports Day, Founders, to the more intimate student-led conferences, back to school, parent-teacher meetings etc.

In this year the school has continued on the long path to PYP authorization with a favourable feedback from the IB appointed consultant.                                               PYP consultant visit

We expect to move forward strongly over the new year. Our Diploma programme has consolidated itself with our second batch of students completing their IB exams. Their strong academic credentials can be seen in the University placements they have been offered, which include Columbia University (with full financial aid), NYU, University of Massachussettes at Amherst, Le Roches Switzerland, La Salle Singapore, Trinity College Dublin, Northumbria UK, Cardiff University, Nottingham University to name only some.

In other areas of the school the academic programme has been strengthened with the introduction of baseline testing to track student progress in English and Maths over the year. An Advanced Learner programme has been introduced and will be further strengthened in the new year.
The ICT programme was revamped to introduce new programmes and skills and to integrate it more fully into teaching and learning in all subjects.    
Primary students using ipads
Sixty IPads were purchased and they are being effectively used in classes from the Nursery upward. An online reading resource Polar Fish was purchased and the middle school reading programme has been strengthened by this. It will be extended into the upper Primary curriculum in the new year. The school has also purchased e-resources for the library both as teacher resources and for the primary school and these will be utilized in the new year.

The Sports programme raised its competitive level through our hosting of interschool events in basketball, tennis, squash, swimming and horse-riding. Although our students are yet to develop a strong enough team to win, we have done reasonably well in most tournaments.

Students have consistently had the opportunity to participate in enrichment programmes. The school participated in 4 inter-school Model United Nations and hosted the first middle school MUN in India. There were in-school workshops by external facilitators in leadership, self awareness and study skills.
An important area of success and one which is a reason for great pride, is the success of our community service  and outreach programme. Our students have adopted a school in the neighborhood and children from there are taught English and Sports every week.
Our own support staff have benefitted greatly from another initiative to train them in computer usage and English. Our office boys, drivers, cleaners and didis impressed the school by presenting an assembly in which they spoke in English and showcased powerpoint presentations.
Integral to the development of the school has been the development of our staff. 26 new teachers joined in this year and it is an indicator of our successful Professional Development programme that they have slipped into their roles so successfully. Professional development remains a crucial strength of the school. 43 teachers went to individual workshops, both nationally and internationally as well as online. In addition there were 2  PYP workshops for the whole primary staff with an IB trainer.
I am confident that in the year ahead, we are well placed to build on our strengths and go forward. I will take this opportunity to thank our senior school Principal Mr Jaffar for all his work this year and to wish him well for the future. The incumbent Principal Mr Abraham is well positioned to take over from him.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy two months ahead whether you are braving the heat here or are travelling. A reminder about our summer camp Rediscovering Minds for those who will be here. I look forward to seeing our students back in school on 1st August. Please do remember that unless special leave has been granted, we expect to see all our students back on the first day of school.

Shalini Advani
School Director

From The Secondary School Principal

For three fruitful years I have been with Pathways- a journey that now is drawing to its end.  And each day as I take a step forward towards my new destination, I am compelled to retrospect on my professional  life that has just been: something that stirs in me emotions, brings back to life memories and lets me cherish many perfect moments I have spent with my students, colleagues and of course, the parent community. It’s a time I experience mixed feelings. And as they say, “The journey is the treasure; and within its lines, lies another journey- the path not taken and the forgotten angle.”

When I took charge as Senior School Principal, in June 2010, there was indeed no infrastructure or even a school building. But Pathways existed- in our collective ambitions, determination and our aspirations, all of which was slowly and with much care woven into our vision of educating. And by ‘education’ I mean building not just knowledge and information but character and spirit that truly nurtures and values every human mind and heart with equal empathy and compassion.  It does remind me of the time I met with many of members of our current parent community who despite their doubts and insecurities believed in my convictions and with open mind deliberated on the blue print of our mission, constantly supporting it with their suggestions.  This was only the beginning of a lucrative and flourishing partnership between the school and the parents- one that remains intact and unscathed even today.

It was then, at the very beginning, when the school was only made of our dreams and not bricks and stones, I promised that you will notice a definite change in each of your children’s personality in just six months time, because we at Pathways have a ‘culture’ of allowing students to blossom in an environment that is free from fear, stimulates curiosity, inspires passion and fuels aspirations. This is the heart of our school- our common, collective culture pool- which has now translated itself into the ‘character’ of Pathways, where each child automatically imbibes these indispensible values. In fact our children are great examples of the products of Pathways Culture; in that, each has turned into a confident, intelligent and compassionate individual equipped with a skill set that will arm him/her to be in a competitive world with an uncertain future. And of this I am very proud!

Now, as I introspect I realize that,  in this process of making innate, intrinsic changes in these rapidly developing young minds,  we all- teachers, management, students and parents alike have each played a unique and yet an important role in making this happen. We have all in a sense become stakeholders of this institution- equally contributing to the continuous development of Pathways.  I cannot but reiterate that just like teachers and the management; parents have a much bigger role than being passive observers in shaping the future of both the students and the school. 

In just these few years that I have interacted with the parents, I have shared the joys of their children, their apprehensions about their academics or even more serious personal individual concerns. Sometimes, I have actively and overtly taken steps to ensure a given situation is controlled or sometimes I took cognizance of a given matter, silently making amendments, but without reporting it to anyone or many more times, I have just been an empathetic listener to the parents; because in some circumstances, ‘listening,’ and hearing them out was just the right remedy.  I thank you Parents, for allowing me to choose the course of action I thought was most appropriate for addressing your concerns/issues.

Of course, I did reflect on many areas of improvement as well, towards the end of my tenure here. One aspect that comes to my mind that need more attention and improvement is - submissions, punctuality and regularity, to me this characterizes discipline. I do see this is not unique to Pathways, but common to many schools across the globe especially in children this age. Teachers and school managements in many schools owe it to the changing trends in dealing with ‘young adults’ as friends and equals coupled with the many myriad distractions they now have- be it the internet, extracurricular activities or the pressures of a highly demanding academic curriculum. But be that as it may, it still is a very important aspect of schooling that needs to be addressed and worked on; but that won’t be easy. And therefore while I thank you for your constant support that you have extended to me in this regard, I request you to extend the same to my successor as well, for there is no one simple way to handle this concern.

In the end, I certainly wish to thank each of the parents, my colleagues and dear students for giving me so many moments which are so special that I will remember each of them fondly for many years to come. It is because of each of you that my tenure at Pathways has been as wonderful. Thank you for being with me, supporting and building on my beliefs and efforts in every regard and making us a fantastic team at Pathways, Senior School!

Best Wishes,

Umar Jaffar
Secondary School Principal

Katha – A Story Session with the early learners - Meher Khan, Form Tutor KG

A story session organized with ‘’Katha’’ was yet another learning experience for our early learners.  Kindergarten organized the session to delve into the world of stories for our unit of inquiry- Stories can engage their audience and communicate meaning.

Katha is a registered social non-profit organization started in 1988.  Katha’s children publishing programme boosts reading initiatives with stories that have been explored in depth for their effect on impressionable young minds. The books introduce children to the diverse regional influences of our own country as well as to international best sellers for different age groups, and develop child’s vocabulary and imagination.

Ms. InduHarikumar and Ms. Sukanya were the guest storytellers from Katha.
The storytellers began the session by asking the students to draw and paint flowers and fish. They asked the students if they liked the smell of flowers or fish. This was followed by reading ‘’To Each Her Own’’ by Vijaydan Detha, illustrations by Anita Hashemi. The story a Rajasthan folklore was about a fisherwoman who loves fish, and a gardener who loves flowers. The message in the story was to accept different perspectives, which connected the children to the IB learner profile of being open minded.

The other story “Gatila” by Nisa and Anjora Noronha revolved around a black cow who does not think she is pretty, and she tries to paint herself in different colours same as other animals around her. The children found the story very interesting and funny. Our little thinkers displayed their understanding through relevant questions and expressed the hidden message in the story. They shared that the cow was not confident about her looks and she should be happy the way she is.

The session was yet another feather in the cap for a great learning experience for our early learners.

Trip to Om Foundation School – Anuradha Subramani, Form Tutor 4A

Students of Form 4 went for a field trip to Om Foundation on 10th May, 2013. This was to further their enquiry on the theme-Sharing the Planet and the following central idea-
‘Distribution of wealth affects communities and individuals’ access to equal opportunities’.
Om foundation is a secular Charitable Trust which started its journey in the year 2002 with a mission to provide all-round development to the weaker section of the society and educate kids from the urban slums of Noida and has now become the habitat of the underprivileged.
Despite the warm weather, students were excited and were all geared up for interacting with the students of Om Foundation.
On reaching the place they were quite fascinated to interact with the students and also found them very open minded and knowledgeable. They also  admired the art and craft work done by the students in every nook and corner of the classroom.
The young learners could relate to their inquiry in their classroom how by bringing opportunities to the underprivileged they could actually alter the childhood of an underprivileged child and bring a smile to their face.
It was in fact a delight to watch the young learners enjoy a visit to a place where they had a question answer session with the Principal of Om Foundation Mrs. Rekha also had a one to one interaction with the students. It was amazing to hear the students of Grade 9
sing a beautiful patriotic song for the Pathways students and our students also presented a Hindi Song for them.
Students enjoyed the field trip and have surely gathered information which will help them think deeply about their responsibility as a citizen towards their community and the world.

Report on Bake Sale – 1st May’2013 - Ritika Sharma

We can do no great things, only small things with great love. " ~Mother Teresa      
Interact club, as always driven by the motivation to create a difference with their small steps, hosted a “Bake sale”  in school during breakfast on 1st May.

Interact Club's very first bake sale had scrumptious cake slices, cupcakes, brownies, muffins and sprite.
The cup cakes, brownies and muffins were all baked  by the Interact club members themselves. The President Interact  club, Ashira Singh, was busy organizing the sale,  instructing volunteers on quantity and variety of cupcakes. Huge quantities of these delicacies were made thanks to the efforts of Interact members Sonal, Ichha, Shamini, Sohini and Ashira.

The members loved the idea of baking these delicacies as they absolutely love to bake and it was a bonus break for them. And of course no cupcakes are complete without adding decorations and making them look pretty to the eyes. And that without a doubt was the favourite part for everyone.

During breakfast, the students started crowding in the atrium and surprisingly, unlike other days, the whole school came down for breakfast. The bake sale experienced a good response from the Pathwayzians and almost all the stock was sold out completely. The response was so overwhelming that supplies began to run out! After the sale, Interact club earned a magnificent amount of approximately Rs. 9000. This amount went into Interact club's fund which will be used for constructing a library in “Bhavani Inter College” , a municipal school in Sector 46 Noida . Our IBDP students have been working closely during the CAS – Service slots with the children of Form 6,7 and 8 from this school.

Floor Ball Workshop - Mehr Chawla , Form 6

                                          Size: 40 x 20m (~131 x 66 ft)
                                          Goals: 160 x 115 cm (~5.2 x 3.7 ft)
                                          Boards: 50 cm high (~1.65 ft)
On 22nd April 2013 we had a workshop on Floor ball conducted by Mr. Yogesh Diwan. Floor ball is a fast growing sport played indoors with "plastic" sticks. In each team there are five field players and a goalkeeper. The goalkeeper has no stick. We started the workshop with learning the history of floor ball and the plans for introducing floor ball in the future Olympics.

Floor ball was founded by Sweden, Finland and Switzerland in the year 1986.In the workshop we learned how to hold the stick.
A floor hockey stick looks like mixture of Hockey and Ice Hockey stick in plastic, and the ball is made up off hard plastic with 26 evenly distributed holes.  The difference between this sport and regular hockey is that Floor ball requires less space and can be played indoor with more safety.

In the session we learnt the different tips, tricks and techniques of how to play the sport.
It was a bit hard at first as well as really exciting as it was a new and very different sport but we soon managed to do it. Then after learning few strokes with the stick; we all were divided into four teams. It was followed by dribbling that helped us to get control over the ball.  We ended up with a nice match though my team didn’t win. Perhaps we can’t be a loser or winner in a single class.  
The time went so fast that we didn’t come to know when the two periods ended as well as our workshop and we wished sir thank you and goodbye. It was a very nice and enhancing experience.                    

To know more details about floor ball kindly visit www.floorball.org

Aradhana Sikri Form Tutor – Form 5

Form Five’s Field Trips “Because normal human activity is worse for nature than the greatest nuclear accident in history.” ― Martin Cruz Smith
And this is what the students of Form 5 got an essence of through their field trips last week.

As they are inquiring into pollution; the types; the causes; the impact; and our responsibility towards controlling it, they were taken for two field trips with the support of Sweccha, an NGO. The first was along the course of the Yamuna through Delhi and the second was to the Ghazipur landfill.

The Yamuna Walk was a simple way to demonstrate the drastically harmful ways in which the city, its dwellers and its industries pollute and damage a water body. The children were familiarised with the origin and course of the river and its historical and mythological context. They were taken to three points along the river’s course, beginning at the Wazirabad Barrage and moving on to Sur Ghat and finally, Kutsiya Ghat. The collected water samples at the first and the last points were clear indicators of the alarming aggression with which the residents of Delhi pollute the river. The trip ended with the children taking a boat ride to enable them to see the activities on the banks along either side of the river.

The experience at the Ghazipur landfill was beyond anything that the children might have imagined. We had taken necessary precautions and were required to wear clinical masks before entering the site.
As they got off the bus, they were shocked to be faced with imposing mountains of garbage. They were further surprised when they learnt that this was just one of the three landfills operational in Delhi. What began with children getting excited at spotting familiar waste such as empty packets of crisps, soft toys, bags, shoes and even a belt, soon turned into disgust on seeing animal parts strewn around. However, they also learnt that the government is taking some positive steps wherein this waste will soon be used to generate electricity.
Both the trips were a reality check for the children and some of their reactions indicate that they are beginning to realize that each one of us is contributing to the waste disposal which is polluting the environment.
There were reflections at different points of both the trips wherein some of them said that they need to bring in a change by beginning to reduce the waste they produce. The visit to Sweccha’s manufacturing unit, ‘Green the Gap’, gave them an insight into how waste can be recycled or reused in creative and useful ways. We hope that this is a beginning to the change that these children can initiate and that it will sustain.