Our school is even open to students suffering from dyslexia: Rupamala Singh

Our school is even open to students suffering from dyslexia: Rupamala Singh

India Blooms News Service | 12 Jan 2017

Rupamala Singh, a woman donning many hats, including that of a journalist, educationist, and marketing and communication expert, speaks to Shilpa Salwan of IBNS about Hayde Heritage Academy, where she is the Principal.

Are you planning for a new boys' boarding apart from the main co-educational school that exists at Kotdwara?

No, it is not a new school. It is part of the main school. We are looking to expand the boys' boarding and so we have come to Kolkata to interact with people here who are likely to be interested in our school.

Expansion of the boys' wing? Is the main school a girls' one?

No, the school is co- educational. We started with a boys' boarding house because it started organically. Some parents said they love our school and wanted to put their children in it. So, we just started with a boys' boarding in 2011. This year, we introduced a girls' wing.

What kind of students can expect to get admitted to Hayde Heritage Academy? Do they have to be academically brilliant? Is the admission procedure easily accessible and reasonable?

The admission procedure is simple. Before that I would like to say I am a supporter of the dyslexia movement and our school is open to students suffering from various forms of dyslexia. Most families in India are either unaware or don't accept that dyslexia is an ailment. Our school recognizes such students. So, moving on, students up to Standard 5 are admitted without any tests as i believe it is cruel to screen such young minds. From Standards 6 to 10, we screen their leaning capacity via an organized test. We focus more on screening the parents as their mentalities mould the child's and it is extremely important for our approach. It is reasonable than most boarding schools and we have scholarships for those who need it.

On what basis is the faculty selected?

Well, not merely on how they speak about developing the children but on how much they love children and how they can mingle and interact with them. In our school, we try to implement a strong the teacher- student relationship.  Teachers and students eat the same food, share the same table.

“Innovative learning” is the highlight of your academy. Is the “innovation” limited to co -curricular activities?

Fitness of an individual is a major concern for us. So we have yoga as a major part of our curriculum. Co-curricular activities are a must for everyone. But that is not all. Our innovation expands to how we teach our modules, with hands-on experience. Of course, not every chapter is taught that way but maybe 10 topics in a year are. As the child grows, hands-on experiences reduce and more worksheet solving, MCQ solving, timed exams are introduced to make them comfortable with the national and international competitive exam modules like those followed for IIT, JEE, GRE, etc.

Because the school was visualized by Mahavir Chakra awarded Indian army brigadier, Hayde, his protege Lt Col Kunwar Ajay Singh and you, does the army background influence the school discipline and curriculum?

[Shows pictures of the students marching] This is the level of discipline the school tries to instil in students. They even march to the washroom [laughs], and I thankfully have silence on the corridors. Besides, to maintain our fitness standards, drills, rigorous physical activities have been introduced that have been structured by my husband who was definitely inspired by his own army background.

You impart music lessons too? Teach students to play musical instruments?

Yes, each student has to take up at least one musical instrument -- be it a guitar, a mouth organ, anything. It is compulsory whether they like it or not because we believe music helps bring coordination, cognitive development and helps them learn better.

Why would a parent choose Hayde Heritage Academy?

Because of many reasons. Apart from our innovative methods of teaching, we are an inclusive school where diverse religions converge but each is allowed to follow their own religious practice. Students from all backgrounds are accepted. The child gets fitter and that's extremely important today. There are regular drills, yoga sessions, sports activities that help them gain confidence. We also believe in “no punishment”. Teachers are strictly prohibited from hitting a child, instead we offer counselling. We maintain a maximum 35 students per class. This helps every child get individual care. A child can also access remedial classes provided by the school to follow up on what they could not understand in class. What they gather thu, is not only knowledge but also experience.

According to CBSE standards, does the school have a professional counsellor?

Yes, very much so. We have a male professional counsellor who has been with us since the beginning. He counsels professionally and I myself, counsel most of them, personally.

Do the students get exposure to the outside world?

Yes, they participate in  various Olympiads. But I do not send them for local events as their disciplinary standards don't match that of others. They have fingers pointed at them and so they feel uncomfortable. In the past, we have seen students pick up local slang during such outings, which we do not want; so we don't send them out.

Why do you participate in the school fair in Kolkata? Is it only for attracting students?

Of course. But also because parents from Kolkata, who want their wards to be admitted in our boarding, call me up. In Kolkata, parents have certain expectations and I thought the best way to answer their queries would be to meet them upfront. So I have a stall set up where the came and met me. We got more admissions from here than we expected.

It's a co-educational school. How safe is it for the girls?

Safety is a very important issue today. The boarding wings are separate for boys and girls, set at quite a distance from each other. The girls' wing is literally a fortress and of course the boys are not allowed there. Apart from that, they are taught to interact with each other comfortably. Even our uniform is unisex : an un-tucked T-shirt and shorts for both boys and girls. They are comfortable in it. They were blazers and a pair of trousers for formal occasions.

The school is in Uttarakhand, at the foot of a mountain, does natural calamities affect it?

No, not so far. The recent cloud burst melted an entire side of a mountain and the river swelled. But our school was way off. So it was not affected.

Finally, do we expect a franchise in Kolkata?

I wouldn't mind as long as someone is willing to invest and absorb the ethos of our school. But starting a school can be a problem in other ways. We need a minimum 6 acres of land for our ideal school. We have a lot of greenery around, we have been “the green school” since its inception but such land is not available here. However, we are planning for a primary school in Rohtak.

Our school is even open to students suffering from dyslexia: Rupamala Singh

India Blooms News Service
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