The journey that made me a Boarding School Master
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” Martin Luther King Jr.
The North East of India is like the forbidden paradise in the country. It is the Amazon of the sub- continent watered by the massive perennial river called the Brahmaputra and its tributaries. Hailing from this part of the world, Manipur, my love for this land is beyond description. I had my school education in a boarding school, Birla Vidya Mandir (Member school of IPSC Indian Public School Conference) situated in Nainital, UP now in UttaraKhand. I was admitted under the scheme ALL INDIA MERIT SCHOLARSHIP, approved to study in the Residential Public School by Ministry of Human Resources, Govt. of India.
During my schooling, I desired that my part of the world should have a school like that wherein a person is taught not just subject but life skills as well. The boarding school nurtured my physical and mental faculties. I was groomed into becoming a person who can influence people and create impact which is immeasurable. A boarding school is a place where there are many facilities and unparalleled opportunities both for the students and Housemasters’. I am very thankful to my Alma Matter, Birla Vidya Mandir, Nainital for the strong base for profession and life which formed a solid foundation beneath my feet. What I am today is because of my all Guruji of the school. My heartfelt gratitude to all of them.
After my college and University studies, I decided to serve as a teacher as that is where I felt I can influence the people of my land. Being a teacher was exciting and I was having the innate passion to walk an extra mile in whatever I do. But working in a day school become tiresome as one could not go beyond a limit. I wanted to do beyond that as I wanted to groom the boys and girls of my land into individuals who can make an impact beyond the boundaries of the North East. Therefore, I resigned though it was a government position and joined a boarding school, Donyi Polo Vidya Bhawan, Itanagar (Member of IPSC) in Arunachal Pradesh. I was the Chief Co-coordinator of the 57th Annual Session of Public Schools’ Principals Conference hosted Donyi Polo Vidya Bhawan (Member of IPSC),Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh. There I met our beloved and learned former Principal Shree SK Guptaji and inspired me to do better and better in my life. Though the job was a private one, I had the quenching satisfaction which could not be granted by the day school. Here, I was giving my all as a boarding school master in every form- as a Physics teacher, as a tutor, on the sports field, in the dining hall and everywhere.
I was actually a part of every child’s life on the campus. Rather than just teaching them values, I was trying to be an example to them in everything I do as I believe that students learn better by observing than by merely listening to what you have got to say. One of my students at the school served as the Chief Minister of the state after he grew up. Some of them are in administrative services (IRS and IAS), Entrepreneurs, Engineers and doctors and social workers.
My life as a boarding school teacher took a greater and a brighter turn when The Assam Valley School, a mammoth boarding school opened in the middle of the tea gardens in Assam in 90s.. I was enthusiastic to join the school as it was established in my part of the land. I knew I can do more in this gigantic institution. It is now more than three decades and I feel that I can still do more as a boarding school master in this institution. I always gave more than usual to whatever role I was given to play-Head of admissions, Head of department, Head of E- learning, Round Square representative, Tennis and hockey coach etc.
As a Physics teacher, I desired to enlighten the students on how science has advanced and has made man’s life easier. As most of the students were first generation learners, I had to really make them realise the influence of Physics in human’s lives in various forms. I walked an additional mile by taking students every year to NASA in the USA. Student have workshops at JF Kennedy space centre, Florida and space camp at Johnson Space at Huston, USA wherein they learn some aspects of Space Science. The trekking and camping expedition in Darjeeling, Bhutan and North East taught me the social behaviour of the students outside four walls of the classroom.
I also served the school as a Round Square Representative. One knows the kind of influence Round Square has on the student body. International Conferences in Singapore, presentation of students’ engagement in Aiglon College, Switzerland and South Africa engages the students in discovery framework of Round Square Pillars which eventually will impact on their lives.
The greater role as a boarding school teacher I played is on the pastoral front. The pastoral care is the essence of a boarding school and that is where one can create a phenomenal impact as a boarding school master. The key areas that work in a boarding school as nature and nurture. I loved passionately in nourishing students in these aspects and serving as a Housemaster, It is an indescribable feeling to experience the kind of connection I enjoy with students in the boarding house. This where the real nature of the students are witness- the personal likes and dislikes, the past joys and pains, the passion they have, the challenges they have met in life, the agony because they have lost a loved one, the kind of person they long to be, and the like. As a housemaster, I am in that position like a potter wherein I can mould them. I become more than a mere teacher and more than a parent when I am in that shoes of the housemaster. One must have that burning passion to be in that position wherein a student finds one trustworthy to open up his heart and expose himself confiding in the one everything about himself.
Every year students with different temperaments enter the campus and every student is a unique challenge for me as the housemaster. No matter how much difficult it may be to make a gentleman out of that boy, I do still find a way to make a fine person who would serve as a ray of hope to the planet out of him. After becoming the Senior Master for the boys department, I am glad to leave a legacy behind because when I retire the student community will continue to have passionate housemaster to nurture them.
Learning is a continuous process and always have the passion to learn from my mentors and one of them is Dr Vidhukesh Vimal, Headmaster of The Assam Valley School. I buy his beautiful ideas and some of the proven time tested effective practices from him and applies in our day-to-day functioning of the school. My heartfelt and sincere gratitude to him and other mentors.
The greatest satisfaction lies when graduated students enter the threshold of the campus not as a student but as a person who is in service of the human civilization in one or other constructive way- an IAS officer, IRS, a Chief Minister of a state, an entrepreneur, a law and enforcement officer, a defense officer, a pilot and the like. That very moment of seeing the once- upon- a- time kid standing in front of me as a responsible adult who is greater than his teacher in every aspect immediately makes me feel proud of my profession as the boarding school housemaster.
To me every single individual is a living success story and I have the joy of being a character in their life’s story as I was the child’s potter, a sculptor or his maker in a way.
This is the most enjoyable and satisfactory journey as the Boarding School master.
The writer is Senior Master, The Assam Valley School and is an alumnus of Birla Vidya Mandir, Nainital.