Newsletter - 2008

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Overall Update on Fountainhead School I am sure all of you must be curious as to what is the progress at Fountainhead School. Some of you, as I understand, also have a few apprehensions about the pace of construction, teacher quality etc. So, we at Fountainhead, decided to come out with a newsletter to update you about happenings at Fountainhead. And believe me, there is a lot going on. We have our hands full and we are thoroughly excited about the school. We also take pride in being the 1st school in Surat to introduce IB education which is growing by leaps and bounds all over India. Coming to construction, the architect of our school is Gurjit Matharoo of Matharoo Associates, Ahmedabad. He has received many national awards and honorable mentions in international architecture magazines. He has come up with a fantastic concept for the school design which is totally in line with the Fountainhead philosophy. The design is very different from conventional school design but then everything about Fountainhead is different, isn’t it? We are looking at a target completion date of April 30th for the school building. The interior design of classrooms has started. Some furniture is being tested right now at the preschool while some furniture is already being made. The outdoor play unit which has been designed is unique. It includes a rock climbing wall, tunnels, swings, slides, merry go rounds, rope net etc. We have started procuring books for the library as well as educational aids for the

school (more details inside). Our school uniform is also something different. We have kept the following things in mind while designing the uniform- it should be unisex, comfortable and adaptable for sports and outdoor play (since students will be outdoors almost everyday). We have also included a formal uniform apart from the regular school uniform. The uniform is being tested in the preschool by a few students. Since our uniform is a breakaway from the conventional tie-pleated skirt-blazer- trousers routine that one associates a school uniform with, we are getting mixed reactions about the uniform. We urge you to look at the uniform with an open mind and from the point of view of a child’s comfort. 75% of our teacher recruitment is done and from 1st April, a summer training program is being launched for them. (more details on the last page). We also have undergone an IBO training, a report of which is on Page 2. Curriculum design is on in full swing. A team is now in place which is purely involved in curriculum design. It is very exciting to design an international curriculum for students and we are sure the students will enjoy it thoroughly. Finally, a big thanks to all of you. It is because of your faith in Fountainhead and the trust that you have placed in us that we are energized and excited every single day. We are truly committed to deliver holistic education to your children.

February 2008 You can visit the school site any day and time according to your convenience. If you have any questions about the design and timelines, we will be happy to talk to you about the same. Next IB workshop for Parents on March 16, at 11 am at the preschool. Exciting theme based summer camps for students in the age group 3-12 starting April onwards

Important Dates for the 2007-08 Session April 11 Last Working Day Annual Day

April 4 or April 11

School Mid-June Restarts

Professional Development News IBO Regional Workshop Report– Vardan Kabra Some of you would be aware that as part of the IB program, schools are required to attend IB workshops in India and in the Asia-Pacific region. Ankita & I recently had the pleasure of attending the “PYP Introductory Workshop for Administrators & Coordinators” at Pathways International School, Gurgaon from 8th to 10th February. More than 250 participants from schools in India and the whole of Asia-Pacific region (almost 50% were from outside India) were attending various workshops for the Primary Years and the Diploma Programs. Our own workshop group consisted of mostly principals and coordinators from schools across India (Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Himachal Pradesh, Kodaikonal, Erode, Nashik, Jaipur, Bhopal), including some expatriate heads of schools – even we were surprised by how wide the interest is in the PYP program). Our group was led by the PYP coordinator of the oldest PYP schools in India, Mercedes-Benz International School (MBIS), Pune. The workshop was a great gain for us – talking to schools who have

been implementing the PYP program for some time, we realized that everyone had only positive things to say about the PYP method. As teachers & administrators, their feedback was this is how education should be delivered anywhere in the world. Of course they also mentioned it is very tough for teachers and the school to implement because of the high quality standards and the very different thinking it demands from everyone involved. Most of them also mentioned that the biggest problem for them was being able to communicate to parents and to make them understand how this system works even in the Talking to schools who have been Indian context of implementing the scarcity and comPYP program for petition. some time, we realized that

Further, we were everyone had only also able to un- positive things to say about the derstand the core PYP method. philosophy of the IB-PYP program. It indeed matches that of Fountainhead. Therefore, it will be much more easier for us to adopt this program than it would be for a regular or existing school. Most of our ideas on classroom methods, assessment, principles to emphasize upon are very much in line with the

PYP. Of course the PYP offers a well-made structure that has been developed by research and experimentation over the years and over the world and that will accelerate our progress towards our goal. Before I sign this report off, I must mention Pathways school with its excellent infrastructure and friendly people. Thanks to the cold wave during the period we were there, combined with the fact that Pathways is about 25 km from Gurgaon on a small hill called Aravali Retreat made this school almost a hill-station during the days we were there. The facilities for children were excellent and as a school, we will strive to surpass the same on each front. If some of you happen to be in that area then do visit the school and you will enjoy the experience. The next set of workshops that we will be attending will be in September in Hong Kong or Singapore (Introduction to the PYP to Teachers) and then in November in Mumbai (advanced PYP workshops). Around August, we expect the preliminary visit from the IB officials which will kick-start the affiliation process in a big way.

Visit to Ms. Farzana Dohadwalla, IBO Representative– South Asia In line with Fountainhead’s objective of implementing Primary Years Program, a team visited Ms. Farzana Dohadwalla. She is the regional representative of International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) for South Asia stationed in Mumbai. We explained to her Fountainhead school's vision and mission and also Page 2 briefed her that continuous innovation in education delivery systems is

central to our belief. We discussed various points including infrastructure development, teacher's training, fee structure of other IBO schools in India etc. After deliberate discussion, we concluded that implementing PYP program in Fountainhead will give a boost in implementing our own vision and mission. It was encouraging to know that

IBO continuously visits schools in order to make sure that standards are not only implemented but maintained in the schools. Ms. Dohadwalla was impressed with the credentials of the Fountainhead Leadership Team and expressed faith that going forward, we will be successful in implementing PYP in Fountainhead.

Visit to World Book Fair, New Delhi Vardan, Ankita, Gaurav Agarwal and a representative from K Girdharlal visited the International Book Fair at New Delhi from Feb 7-10. We spent almost 3 days in visiting all the stalls. This book fair is the 2nd largest in the world and exhibitors from around 23 countries were present at the fair. Our focus was mainly on high quality innovative content developed by publishers and vendors over the years. There was some interesting material from various publishers in

Canada, China, US and UK. National Book Trust, Children Book Trust, Sangeet Kala Akademi showed some rare work. Particularly interesting was a stall by Eklavya Books, Bhopal. They had a lot of educational toys, posters and some very innovative science games. It is heartening to note that in India too, there is a wave of innovative teaching materials.

good too. You will surely see a lot of this material at Fountainhead School this year. There was also a stall by National Geographic and Discovery Channel. Their audio visual content is now available to school and students. The team also attended an exhibition by Butterfly Books at British council Library, New Delhi.

There were a lot of science and maths lab material which we found

Visit to Rasbehari International School, Nasik Vardan Kabra and Gaurav Agarwal visited Rasbehari International School in Nasik. They spent a day there observing classes and interacting with the managing trustee Ms. Suchitra Sarda. Rasbehari International School is a PYP Candidate School Ms. Sarda shared valuable insights and her experience in implementing

PYP in the school. According to her, implementation of PYP requires great commitment from all sections of school including management, administration, teachers and parents. She also stressed the importance of rigorous teacher training as an integral part of PYP. We also gained greater insight into the role of parents in PYP program. It is the duty of the implementing school to

educate parents about the methods and practices followed in class. We were comfortable to know that planned infrastructure at Fountainhead will exceed IBO requirements. As it is, 550+ sq. ft classroom size for 20-25 students is well above international standards. Ms. Sarda promised us ongoing support in our journey to become an IB PYP school.

Visit to Choithram International School, Indore At Fountainhead we believe that learning is a lifelong process. As a part of our learning, Vardan Kabra and Gaurav Agarwal visited Choithram International School in Indore. Choithram is an authorized International Baccalaureate (IBO) school conducting Primary Years and Middle Years program. Our team met Principal of Choithram Mr. Pant, PYP Co-ordinator Mrs. Purti Singh and librarian Mrs. Naz Kirmani Agenda for the visit was to gain

great insight into PYP. We were able to see in the school how use of technology has enabled learning in the classroom. We could also gain greater insight into the key role that a librarian plays in a PYP school. The librarian is known as resource person and plays a pivotal role in curriculum designing. During the planning stage, teachers of all the classes interact with the resource person and the onus of recommending rights books from vast pools of books, which is typical in all

the IBO schools, lies mostly with the resource person. The person taking up this challenge should have flair for reading, a sharp memory and should always be on look out for curriculum and education innovation happening not only in India but all over world. Overall the visit was useful and we could understand PYP in action.

Teacher Recruitment Process– Vardan Kabra Less than a month back, one of our biggest concerns was of getting the right teachers for Fountainhead School. And this was an important concern for most of you as well. I am happy to report that our recruitment drive has been going on quite satisfactorily. We have hired about 75% of the total number of teachers that we finally need and while maintaining extremely high standards, we have been able to find the right candidates. Our recruitment process has consisted of the applicants first needing to fill up a 10-page Teacher Application Form, which apart from basic details asks them to give their opinions of questions such as “What qualities do you want to develop in the school children?”, “What is the best way to teach and what is the best way to learn?”, “Why do you want to be a teacher?”, “What are your priorities in life?” etc. Once they fill up the Teacher Application Form, they are needed to write an objective written test in English, Science and Maths, as well some subjective essay type questions in English. Along with this written test, there’s a small interview round – a screening test to ensure that the basic communication skills and basic attitude towards teaching exists. On the basis on their Application Form, Test Scores and Interview Round 1, some of teachers are being called for the final rounds of interviews. In the 2nd round, apart from Ankita and I, at least 2 more people grill the candidate to understand their suitability of becoming teachers at the school. We have even called some teachers for more than 2 final rounds of interviews where needed. The people who have come out of this grueling process are very high quality. We have also offered very attractive compensation and benefits package to our teachers. Starting April 1st, we have a 2 month intensive training program for them with just a 8 day break. All of them will be trained in basics of education, the IB-PYP method and its implementation techniques, child

psychology, a year long training program on 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, outbound program of 2-3 days to some place close, computer training where needed and other relevant training programs. We have already started their introduction and initiation into this training program – starting with some readings and then going on to small training workshops starting from March 2nd.Apart from this, every Wednesday throughout the year, teachers will be working till 5:30 pm. These Wednesdays will be used to conduct year long Human Resource Development exercises. A maximum of 7 Sundays through the year will be used for external training or IB trainings. The teachers that we have finally hired are from different backgrounds – some of course are teachers from leading schools in Surat with varied experience – from 1-9 years, there are also others who are from totally different fields such as Interior Design, Textile Design, Engineers & Administration, and there are some freshers as well. Overall, we are quite excited by the lot that we have recruited and we are now very confident of being able to deliver to the best of potential.

CONSTRUCTION STATUS as seen on 4thMarch. With almost 80 days of construction over, we have completed approximately 60% of the total construction planned in Phase 1. The remaining 40% should take another 60 days which ie by April end, well in time for our session to begin in mid– June.