13 August 2014

From Director's Desk

A very warm welcome to the first newsletter for this academic year. I am especially delighted to welcome the families who have joined the school in this year and hope you will join the Pathways community by being closely involved with the school. We are committed to the idea that the school can only be a great educational space for our children through a partnership between home and school and I welcome your suggestions over the year.

Taking forward some aspects of last year, I am happy to share separately, the results of the survey of the school conducted at the close of the last academic year.  Thank you very much for responding so well. It helps the process of ongoing school improvement.

Awards and Recognition
I am delighted to share that the Pathways schools have received the 'Best Innovative K - 12 School National' Award at the Indian Education Congress Awards - 2014, that recognize excellence in the Education sector.
In a landmark indicator the Pathways group of schools is being recognized for an outstanding Green award. Pathways Gurgaon is the first k-12 school in Asia and possibly the world to receive the LEED Platinum award and the application process for Pathways Noida is under way.  It is an indicator of the value we place on this important area of sustainability and conservation for the future, even in our building and facilities
School Spaces
They new Early Years area is providing a spacious and creative learning space for our youngest children. Similarly the relocation of the library has been a very popular move leading to an enormous jump in the number of students who are dropping in or
using the library to do quiet work.  

Traffic management
It has been a challenge to get the road outside the school usable as one half was completely laid open and dug up over the summer. The ongoing liason with the authorities  succeeded in ensuring  that half the road which had been completely dug up with an open drain was covered a day before school opened. However it remains only half done and muddy which is an enormous barrier to the smooth flow of traffic. We are pursuing this actively but are informed that civil work is being held up during the monsoon.
Meanwhile please do cooperate with parking only at the side of the road and not in the middle or in front of the school gates. A few parents have been writing in to me expressing concern at the traffic jam outside because of inconsiderate parking by some.  We are implementing strict supervision of this. Please inform your drivers to follow the instructions given. We cannot teach our children to be caring, responsible citizens if we do not lead by example.

Technology Development
We have introduced a bank of new Ipads which will be used by Nursery – Grade 1 to promote reading and other learning activity. Meanwhile students of Form 6 & 7 are now registered users of Google Apps to support their online learning activities.

Last week both Mrs Sandhir and I spoke at educational technology conferences –Mrs Sandhir at the EdTech Review and I at the World Education Summit – and it was exciting to see how far ahead we are at Pathways to what other schools around  the country are doing. 

Summer Activity
A number of activities over the summer enriched the lives of our students. The annual summer activity camp Rediscovering Minds was well attended. With workshops on music, dance, drama, Design Technology, Art, Technology, Sports and a special camp on swimming it was an exciting learning journey.
A large percentage of Grade 11 students attended summer internship programmes. These included working at Apollo, Hyundai, Hindustan Times, Dunkin Donuts, Shades of India etc. Some students attended summer programmes at University of Chicago, UC Berkley or Oxbridge Study Abroad.
A group of 35 middle and senior school students went on a summer trip to the US where they had exciting learning at the Kennedy Space Centre, Harvard, Broadway and visited the Niagara Falls.
A team of students represented the school at the IB World Student conference in Bath in the UK.

I am delighted to share with you the varied publications of our teachers. 2 teachers Ms Vandana Parashar and Ms. Sonu Khosla had articles published on the IB site.
Ms. Mayura Tiwari published a book of her poetry. These are indicators of the ways in which our teachers are vibrant intellects whose enjoyment of their own growth feeds into what they bring to their classroom.
Before school opened teachers went through a number of workshop and training sessions. These included a session on story telling for Early Learner teachers conducted by Mr. Jimmy Eapen, a training on Peer Assisted Learning Strategies by Dr Kevin Feldman and multiple in house sessions on the MYP, a variety of software and pastoral care.
I am very happy to welcome to the staff our new MYP coordinator Ms. Anshu Sharma who brings with her many years of experience with teaching and leading the MYP. 
                                             Dr. Shalini Advani
                                                  School Director

From the Senior School Principal, Mr. Alexander Abraham

It was Nelson Mandela who once said that, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." How wonderfully put by a man who was a visionary leader who saw that schools with a vision and a desire to make a transformative change in their students would be able to ensure that they can make a noteworthy difference to our world.

It is extremely cheering to hear students’ words such as “so thrilled to get back” and “school is such fun and learning- so much to do- never a dull moment”. This is thrilling to all of us educators who long before the students returned for the new academic year have engaged in planning and professional development programmes in the last ten days of July.

Even before the vacations ended our IBDP results were released and we are proud to share that Sagnik Aich and Ashira Pachera topped the class with 36 points. The students who graduated this year from the school have all been placed at very good colleges across the globe and even in India and we will continue to work at looking at ways how the processes will be firmed up so that results will be more enhanced over the years.

Even as the new academic year is barely a fortnight old we have had many busy days already. As always we encourage our students to become thought leaders.
The IBDP Orientation for new students had sessions conducted by Form 12 students on International Mindedness, the Learner Profile, the Extended Essay and the TOK and the CAS. This was something that Form 11 students could connect very well with as they embark on the road that their seniors have already travelled.

Similarly, we encouraged our students to engage with the major issues troubling our world.
We had an excellent talk given by Dr. Sujata Aishwarya Cheema, from Jamia Millia Islamia, who shared perspective on Understanding the Israeli Palestinian conflict. The talk was engaging and enabled students to be challenged to reflect on the issue and the plight of the inhabitants. What was one of the highlights of the talk was when the Q & A session took place amongst the many questions raised by students was when a young middle school student asked, “How can we as students make a difference to the intense conflict in the Middle East?” That truly captured the ethos of the school where education should surely engage students to reflect on how they can make a difference to this world of ours.

Over the last few weeks the school has been very strict on rules including punctuality. Students are now to be in school latest by 8:00 a.m. if they are travelling by their own transport. I am glad to share that we have seen that students are remarkably conscious of this effort and have responded well. There are clear penalties also for assignment submissions to come by the due dates as without this it becomes impossible for academic rigour to become ingrained in our students. This effort is to enable our students to realize that education is best equipped with self-discipline and focus and is rewarded in the long run- a skill that lasts a lifetime.

Senior school has so much to look forward to with Founder’s Day auditions and practices, the Inter School Festival “RESONANCE”, Inter house debates and the Interact Burger sale and the list goes on. The American journalist Sydney J. Harris once said, “The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”  All then that we can plan and prepare and achieve through our educative processes is to enable our students not just to reflect but become women and men of action and with new perspective step out into the world to make a perceptible change.

Alexander Abraham

Senior School Principal

IB World Student Conference at the University of Bath by Kumar Rishi Sinha and Simran Bhan, Gr 12

The IB World Student Conference at Bath was woven around the theme “Building a City of the Future”.  We had prominent speakers addressing us as a group each day followed by some focused work in smaller groups (called Group Action Teams or GAT) to design our “cities of the future”.
There were 90 students from 27 countries gathered for the conference.
We were divided into smaller GAT groups with one teacher in charge. I was put into GAT group 3, where a teacher from China, Ms Fanny was the group leader. I was the only Indian in my group, so there was interesting learning from so many people from different communities. Our GAT leader had asked us to do some research on a city what was close to us and asked us to do a presentation on it the next day. I presented on Dubai, where I discussed its problems, benefits and how it is a sustainable city today. The main aim of this was to take ideas from different cities and eventually create a sustainable city of the future for our final conference project exhibition, covering issues of transport, sustainability and community aspects.
We had three main guest speakers, to tell us about their experiences with sustainable cities. The first speaker we had was Amy Robinson, director of a firm that offers sustainable solutions in Bristol, a city near Bath. She talked about Bristol, and how it has managed to become one of the most sustainable cites in UK. The next speaker we had was Dr. Adumu Idris, who gave his views on the city of Kano, and how it has segregated over the years. We got a better insight of African cities, addressing some of the problems helping us for a final project. Finally our last speaker was Nick Tyler, a Professor of Civil Engineering at the University College of London. He has international experience in researching and developing environmentally and socially sustainable solutions for growing cities. He talked about numerous cities in the world and gave us a broad insight to urban planning.
In our separate GAT sessions, there was a lot of interaction with the other people in the conference, which was really good because I learned a lot about other people’s viewpoints and thoughts which really enhanced the open mindedness in all of us. We all finally had to design our own city as a group, with a proper plan and design and present it on the final day and explain why it was sustainable.

Kumar Rishi Sinha
Grade 12

An IBWS Conference was held in the outskirts of Bath at the University of Bath on the 27th of July till the 2nd of August 2014. The theme of this conference was ‘The City of the Future’. Students from across the globe were split up into five groups of around twenty. These ‘GAT’ groups were then to design their own city. Thought provoking questions like ‘Is segregation something that needs to be tackled seriously?’ were passed around the groups.

We decided that there were three main aspects that contributed in making a good city, (1) Transport (2) Sustainability and (3)
Multiculturalism and Humane living. I decided to be a part of sustainability as I am passionate about this topic. We discussed what makes a city sustainable, but we had to consider options we needn’t usually worry about in this sense-costing and funding. As we made plans, all three subgroups realized one thing: Whether we wanted to admit it or not, we were creating a Utopia. Not only is using infinite resources as a source of energy too expensive to build and manage, so is creating a society where there are no emissions of green-house gases and no pollution whatsoever looked impossible.
This was not the outcome we were expecting. We realized that the change that the world needs would be, that we cut down carbon emissions and eliminate the use of plastics and cars, because it is more realistic than creating a new world with solar paneled roads (too expensive!). The “change” this world needs is not something physical, but something earnable: Respect. Respect for people and our planet.
This course changed my vision of the future, from something solely materialistic to spiritual. We were given a tremendous opportunity to partake in a simulation activity in the setting of the slums, where we had to create handmade paper bags under artificially created difficult conditions and sell them to the shop keepers. And although the representation cannot even help us completely comprehend the pain and the suffering that these families go through, we did end up a little more empathic and realized the hardships real people go through.  The experience and the learning will stay with me for a long time.
All in all, the experience of being a part of an IBWSC is like no other. The happiness of meeting new people and understanding new cultures is incomparable. We felt at home, responsible and followed the IB learner profile into bettering ourselves as students and people of this world as we strive to create a positive future for us and the generations to come.

Simran Bhan

Grade 12

NASA Trip by Trishan Dollny Gr 7, Neha Gupta Gr 8 and Tanmay Bajaj Gr 8

Early morning at school, all our parents saying goodbye to us, last minute checks and we were off! From Delhi airport to JFK, we were jet lagged but it did not bother us because the excitement was kicking in.
The next morning, it was the much awaited trip to Disneyland! From the rides and the souvenirs till the firework show, it was a magical experience. It truly felt as if we had landed in the dream world of elf’s and fairies.

The next day was the much awaited trip to the Universal studios. Unfortunately we had to quickly decide which ride to go on as the time was ticking real fast!  Thank God we discovered fast passes to beat the queues.  Of course, the rides were thrilling and the food stalls sold yummy items to keep us going.  But what left us all absolutely breathless were the fireworks.  OMG!  So many colors, so high up in the sky, ever so striking!

The visit to the Kennedy Space Centre was next. The first day at NASA was the day we toured the whole space centre, we saw IMAX films about the history of NASA and about the spaceship Colombia. We saw the control room where engineers, scientists check the spaceship's status and take action. Our instructors briefed us about the things astronauts eat in space and what materials the outer layer is made of. We went around in the tour bus and saw many different types of spaceships and some crocodiles too!

The next day at NASA was all about the simulations. We all were prepared to see the powerful and humongous engines which power the NASA rockets and shuttles to reach a thousand miles away.  The impact of seeing these enormous machines simply cannot be described.

We all just loved the simulator where we were spun and tossed around to get a taste of the training astronauts go through.  This way they learn not to get dizzy in space and to keep their concentration in case their shuttle goes out of control in space.

We learnt that many brave astronauts had lost their lives experimenting in space.  They themselves thought that it was absolutely worth the risk because they wanted to discover more.  That is why they are still saluted with such honor and respect. 

It was time to travel to Boston! When we reached Boston, we had an open session with a student at MIT, he talked to us about the facilities on campus, subjects, scholarships and things the people at MIT do for fun.
We then had a robotics workshop at MIT where we learned how to program our own robot to make it move and perform tasks! Then we had an open session with a student from Harvard where she talked to us about the history of Harvard, what facilities are there, the different types of buildings, schools, libraries on campus. Walking through those historical grounds, we all wished that someday we too would get a chance to be part of theses esteemed institutions.

The following day was the day we travelled to Niagara. I can assure you that maid of the mist lives up to its name because we could definitely see the mist in the air! It was a cold afternoon, above us were dark and heavy clouds, around us was a spray of mist which drenched us from head to toe, beneath us was thundering water.  We were mesmerized by the power of the gushing waters of the mystical and majestic Niagara falls.
Up next was New York! Statue of Liberty, time square, Madame Tussauds, Broadway and the Empire State Building. It was stirring! The people, the thrill on the streets, such amazing things to see! When we landed in India, saw our parents, some of us were speechless, Some of us could not stop talking!
I would like to thank all the teachers and instructors who made this dream of going to USA and visiting these places come true! It was truly an unforgettable experience of a lifetime!