Friday, October 23, 2009

The Gunjur Experience

Little did we know how much we could learn from them ourselves. You must be wondering who is this 'them' I am referring to. Well 'them" is the kids we helped to learn verbs and nouns. Well how could they have taught us anything at all?

We were all boarding the bus pondering about what was to happen next and not expecting much. We had prepared flashcards, worksheets, charts and many more teaching aids. In a few minutes we arrived at the Gunjur Government school. Many thought about how our school was much better and bigger.

A bunch of children were their awaiting for us with an eager hunger for knowledge. All of them were ready to learn. My grade 6A, taught them the concept Verbs through activities of our own creation. Grade 6B taught them Nouns and even taught them to sing a few English songs and they filled us with awe by singing rather making us sing Kannada songs.

Their speed at which they grasped everything we showed them was remarkable. Many thought they deserve better schools to study and learn.

Like I said what could we have learnt from those kids? Something you should have and use everyday of your life that we all forget or rather fail to do – Being sensitive to others woes and the basic values of life . Each kid displayed so many that I can't keep track. It is this that is very important to succeed in all our endeavours.

I felt very thoughtful after meeting them and happy too. Happy because we, as a school had done more and thoughtful because of how their lives can be so different from ours. I’ve explored this to all explorable limits and have realised that we should respect all for what they do and for what they are. It doesn't matter whether you are a maid or a company's head. No matter what work you do, big or small, in the end it does make a difference of what you contribute to the society at large.
It was an awesome experience to all of us.

Anusha Ramji
Grade 6A

Quenching The Thirst of Minds: SUPW

Curiosity in minds and twinkle in eyes; that exactly how I found each of my 40 prodigies on 22nd October when they came in all set to learn about cells from me. Trust me, I learnt much more from than they did from me! Their attention span lasted forever which really amazed me. Their smiles and friendliness will always be remembered by me. The students of a nearby Govt. School were my source of inspiration during my SUPW.

My lesson plan was to give them a set of worksheets and then gradually, referring to their course, I showed them modules on the facts about cells. Then I chose to go the manual way and because of time constraints I quickly told them about the cell organelles. But my presentation would have amounted to zilch if Chandrika ma’am and Nagashree ma’am wouldn’t have been there to explain to the children in their language and in an interesting manner according to their temperament. They were thrilled to see the diffusion and osmosis demonstrations in the classroom. Then I took them to the Biology lab to make them prepare onion peel slide and to observe them under a microscope so that their imagination could get a real for. The lab was well set before we reached by Chandrika ma’am and Nayak sir, which made the experiment so very convenient for us. This proved to be the most exciting session. Everyone was very responsive and excited.

After a demonstraton of the experiment by Chandrika ma’am, Nida , Dipali and I with all the other students were amused to perform the experiment ourselves and that too successfully. Just as everyone finished experimenting, the bio lab specimen grabbed the attention of all and they clustered around them. It was my pleasure to give them a closer look at them and tell them their names. They too taught me that the scorpion in kannada was called “chieru”(as I heard). Then sadly, the session had to end. So we all took then on a half-tour of the school and took them for snack. Then it was time to say goodbye. They waved to me graciously and I waved back to them with a happy heart and loads of inspiration.

An encounter with the Swiss Education Minister.

Not Swiss Chocolates, But Swiss Education!!

Earlier, whenever I heard of Switzerland, all that came to my mind was chocolates (yum yum!!), Alps and the best of summer camps. But it wasn’t until an encounter with the Swiss Educationist and a Swiss education Minister Ms. Sandra Hutterli who had visited the Aditi Mallya International School on 9th of October , that I got to know about Switzerland’s unique and well-thought education system. It was the occasion of completion of 60 years of India and Switzerland’s friendship and the year of Science and Education of Switzerland Year, that Ms. Hutterli chose to grace. It proved to be a great opportunity to open the window of prejudice and let the light of opportunities in.

The conference started with Roshan, Karthik and I going all around the school to find the Conference room! To celebrate our discovery then, we snacked and found ourselves places in a classroom which was apparently the conference venue. We went in with an impression that what would it be about?.........middle school, high schools, colleges and Universities in Switzerland! But as soon as the key address came to an end we were prepared for some new facts to vibrate our eardrums (so... better be awake!:)) . Firstly, we were told that as small a country as Switzerland is divided into 26 Cantons(states)!Every Canton is responsible for every child’s education within the Canton, making their literacy rate pretty high. Secondly, Switzerland has 4 national languages ;French, German, Italian and Romansh! (Imagine, school there is called ‘centro Scolastic’, ‘Primaschule’, ‘ecole’ and ‘casa da scola’). These two facts make Switzerland a land of educational opportunities, since the cantons support students so much, and also a slightly difficult place to survive in due to the language problems.

However, due to the large no. of immigrants, the students of India wouldn’t be the lone foreigners around and will find Ubringe, Turks, Ex-jagoslavians, Portugese and Spanish as well!

So.... here is how the Swiss education system goes. The 11th and 12th graders from India would be Swiss Upper Secondary students. Thus they either would have an option to attend the special middle schools, which are very popular, or go for Matura schools which come with the option of full time studies or Professional Matura schools which pay special attention to after school Apprenticeship for early experience. After Matura and High school one is eligible to go to University. Switzerland has brilliant universities, Universities of Applied Sciences, Federeal Institutes of Technology and research Institutes.

You must be wondering by now that usually, English management and Economic education, Indian technological education, Australian Medical Education are the famous ones, but what about Swiss education’s Strength? Actually all the big car company’s of Germany that we hear about are full of swiss people designing their most minute ofall parts . Besides who hasn’t heard about the Swiss watches? They are all about intrigue technology and design. Thus, the Swiss technology education is qute popular and specialized. The federal institutes of technology have even yielded Nobel Prize winners! For Management patrons the IMD at Lausanne comes in the top five management colleges in the world! For more information on the best of universities for Law, Economics and Humanities feel free to Google.

For applying directly to Universities, you need a course or diploma in at least one of the national languages of Switzerland and you need to appear for the entrance test of the university and produce your previous 3 yrs’ results in the subjects you’ve been doing. The Swiss embassy gives scholarships every-year. You can do Bachelors’, masters’ or Master Of Advanced Studies from Switzerland which is assessed on the European Credit transfer System. However, Medical studies aren’t open to foreign students. So, I hope this article of mine has been successful in advertising the earlier-in-dark Swiss education, which was exactly the aim of this Conference. I had a great time exploring all these opportunities. I can already imagine myself in the lap of Alps!!!

Gauri Billore,
Grade 10 ICSE

Thursday, October 15, 2009


“If were to look over the whole world to find out the country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power & beauty that nature can bestow – in some parts a very paradise on earth – I should point to India. There are many bright dreams to be dreamt about India, and many bright deeds to be done in India, if only you will do them.”

I had first read this quote (as a teenager who was very determined to solve the world’s problems!) just over a 100 years after it was a written. I come back to it frequently as it is as relevant today, as it was in 1882, when it was first written by Max Mueller.

Yes, many people have done a fair number of bright deeds. Many people, including all of us, have benefited from our independence, democracy, integration into the world economy and rising levels of socio-economic development

However, much remains to be done, not just in the interests of India as a nation, but humanity at large (given that 1 out of every 6 people in the world is Indian!). A large part of what we need to do is related to accomplishing universal literacy, creating equal opportunities, more jobs and wealth, while achieving sustainable economic development.

Don’t all of us want roti, kapda aur makan, at the very minimum? Don’t all of us want to live healthy, happy lives where we discover and achieve our life’s dreams? IS THIS NEGOTIABLE?? Is this a choice, where we would say no?! This is non negotiable. We all want to achieve it. The million dollar question is how, and what can we do both individually and collectively to contribute towards it?

But first, let me answer a question many people have asked. Why did I come back to India? Why did I focus on education? And why Inventure?

Rewind –

Christmas 2002, I sat at the cross roads in Chicago after 15 months of self discovery, after leaving an organisation I had worked for nine years, trying to answer the question, “What should I do when I grow up”?! During this period I had invested my time in:
• Learning how to ski, golf and play tennis in North America, visiting family in India, attending the soccer world cup in South Korea, being an “adventure tourist” for a few months across Equador, Peru, Brazil and Argentina.
• Exploring the feasibility of establishing a start-up aimed at facilitating IT & Life Sciences cross border collaboration between companies in India, and universities in the USA. Out of this came the seed for my foray into education

I had spent about 10 years prior to that in “self exile” in various locations including London, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sydney, Hong Kong and New York.

To say that this period of 15 months was the most educational and liberating phase of my life would be an understatement. I had travelled for months in foreign lands where I didn’t know a soul, nor spoke the language, with no more than a backpack and the Lonely Planet guide for company! I could have dropped off the face of the earth and no one would have been any the wiser!

For the first time in my life, I understood what the truism means – that it’s not the destination but the journey that matters. Or for that matter, it’s not what you do for a living, or how big your bank balance is, but your dreams, values and actions which define who you are as a human being.

I was packing my bags to go except I hadn’t quite decided to where - go back home to India into my parents’ waiting arms or to another destination, or to hitch up, err, with another set of arms! It wasn’t just any old decision about where to go for a Christmas holiday. As I was packing my bag pack out fell The Alchemist, a book I had read h months ago.

For those of you who haven’t read it, the book is about Santiago, a boy who has a dream and the audacity to follow it. Just as he was leaving, his father said to him, “Travel the world until you see that our castle is the greatest and our women the most beautiful". In his journey, Santiago sees the greatness of the world, and meets all kinds of fascinating people. However, by the end of the novel, he discovers that "treasure lies where your heart belongs", and that the treasure was the journey itself, the discoveries he made, and the wisdom he acquired.

I knew my answer then…. it was time for this prodigal daughter of India to go home! I had left the country in mid ‘91 immediately after I completed by Bachelors degree, with the objective of returning home after five years, equipped with enhanced skills, knowledge, contacts and possibly a collaboration to establish a business or an organization, which would do more for society than just have a healthy balance-sheet.

I had a “good life”, by most people’s benchmarks. My education (formal and otherwise) had given me exposure to working in over 20 countries, with diverse people, needs, languages, cultures and markets. I was relatively successful in terms of climbing the “career ladder”; but at the end of the day, I wanted to be in an environment which provided me with an opportunity to have a vision of something that could be, and then to make it happen.

Meanwhile, the adverts on “India shining” kept staring me in the face, via various forms of Media. I knew that India was at the cusp of change and needed to choose the sort of India it wanted to be and I wanted to participate in that process – building the India I want - a secular, developed, liberal democracy; confident of its global standing, as opposed to an inward looking country with half-hearted economic reforms, that benefit primarily those already advantaged, which was clearly a socially unsustainable and yes, unjust situation in the long run.

I realized that I believed that the best way to help the change, and be a part of it, was by working on shaping the attitudes of the very young and helping to give them the expertise to make independent choices about what they wanted to do with their lives and excel in their chosen fields anywhere in the world.

I thus boarded the flight to India, armed with plans to establish a business school which would function as a platform to facilitate cross border collaboration between organisations in the USA, India and perhaps China. The aim was to facilitate the creation & exchange of knowledge, ideas, understanding, jobs and wealth. Unfortunately “license raj” reared its ugly head, and my plans and I were doused with cold water by an unsympathetic babu; by being given a tedious history lesson on the East India Company’s exploits in India and informed (by him and by various other regulators), that I would be facilitating the “re-colonisation of India” and enhancing the divide between the haves and the have nots.( This at a time when Indian students spent as much money overseas pursing higher education, than our famed IT companies earned via their exports!). Bottom line: if I were to venture into this space legally, I could not afford to pay the costs involved in the nurturing of excellence, given the regulatory straitjacket that existed (and unfortunately still does).

While we were trying to find a financially and legally viable solution, I started evaluating the feasibility of establishing a K-12 school. The logic being, why wait till someone is in their 20s or 30s before helping to make them tigers (and tigresses!) in the international economy?

This process was accelerated with discussions with my parents, and meetings with people like Irfan Razack (MD of Prestige Constructions and a family friend), Sam Pitorda (Head of the National Knowledge Commission who counselled me to venture into K-12 education rather than establishing a business school) Umashankar Vishvanath (at the time was the Operations head for the IL&FS ETS, Prof Sadagopan (founding director of IIITB), Prof Balki (Associate Director or IISC), Vivek Kulkarni (at the time IT & BT Secretary of the Government of Karnataka), Ravichandar (MD, Feedback Consulting & member of the BATF), Dr Mahendra Srivastava (who was to be my partner for the business school), T Sriram, Professor MD Nalapat (of Manipal University ), Pandit Dwarkanath (whose wisdom and optimism gave me courage) Rezwan Razack, Noaman Razack and others. Many of these eminent people are still involved with Inventure Academy, either as trustees, on the Board of Advisors, or as well wishers.

This process was led primarily by Umashankar and myself. We had certain insights, which seemed self-evident. We wished to create a fusion between the best of what the conventional schools offered and what was possible in the new age of aspirational schools.

Neither of us were “educationists”, which actually worked to our advantage – as from the start we departed from the beaten track, and were able to review the current vs desired scenario objectively and from the perspective of the whole world, rather than India of the past decades. We drew on our professional and personal experiences. We were not afraid to accept that we didn't know it all; and therefore asked questions and turned to people who had the relevant expertise and knowledge of international standards in education.

Our market research helped to validate what our school should stand for and what it would mean to the stake-holders and what they thought was important .

Our timeline of key milestones in both the founding of Inventure and some “firsts” for our school reflects this amply.

When I look back now, I am struck with awe at the size and the nature of the dream of the first Inventurers, and the sense of shared purpose and drive for excellence, which brought together this wide range of people and organizations – of the pioneer Inventurers - to conceptualize and successfully implement Inventure’s core purpose (the reason why Inventure Academy was created), our core values & quality objectives (values & principles we will live by to achieve our core purpose), and our vision (how we will measure our success).

The underlying attitude was a strong sense of belief and ownership of what was once an abstract idea, a mere scribble on a white board…. This attitude prevails even today in the hearts and minds of what is now a thriving community of learners.

The road blocks were many, including a literal one – our neighbors would not let us access the land designated for the school (starting with the ground breaking!) We in fact had to move the road to the school on three occasions, before we secured the current location!

This was in mid Feb 2005, with us aiming to open the school in June 2005. This we did on a farm, with the first 29 Young Inventurers and 21 teaching & non teaching faculty! Today, we are a thriving 330 Young Inventurers and 50 faculty and heading steadily northwards in every quarter.

If I were to sum up the beliefs which brought us together….

Our Beliefs
every body is unique; individuality is to be celebrated not discouraged
everyone has infinite potential to succeed and achieve their life’s ambitions
everyone is capable of obtaining and applying knowledge & skills
everyone can & should be a life long learner
failure is a stepping stone to success

We aim for academic excellence, by challenging students to use their minds well, so as to create all round development, physical, intellectual and moral. We don’t believe that one has to come at the cost of the other

Some have said that this is unreasonable. To such sceptics our response is, “ A reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man”; George Bernard Shaw
Way to go, George! We at Inventure Academy agree.

Yes, we have lofty goals and expectations. But we also have the most priceless of resources to help us achieve this: our Young Inventurers and their loving and supportive families. We back this treasure up with a strong commitment, since our students constitute our collective future – yours and ours!

Now for the paragraph that I was requested for!

My message to all Inventurers (including students, parents, faculty, board members and the wider community) on how to achieve the bright deeds we require:
1) Dream big. Don't stop with the way things are. Dream of things as they ought to be
2) Develop healthy habits of the mind (including persistence, passion & optimism) in order to convert your dreams to bright deeds.
3) Push yourself into newer and higher comfort zones
4) Be true to what you believe in, and go beyond what you thought you could achieve.

Jessie Jackson once said

I'm tired of sailing my little boat, far inside the harbour bar. I want to go out where the big ships float, out on the deep where the great ones are. And should my frail craft prove too slight for waves that sweep those billows o'er, I'd rather go down in the stirring fight than drowse to death at the sheltered shore."

Like to end this err one paragraph message, by placing on record my deep gratitude for those who have provided me with the support to sail with the big ships!

My parents (Nafees & Hassan) and sister (Nishi) whose unconditional love has given me the strength to consistently choose the road less travelled . And this for someone who cried all the way to school and was scared of her own shadow even until age 12 is quite an achievement!

Irfan who has placed more faith in me than even a child can hope for from their parents. His brothers, Rezwan and Noaman for their solid support.
This despite the failed business school venture, in a society which shuns failure! This provided us with tremendous learning and motivation.

Members of the founding team who dared to join a new school with a daring vision.
A special mention for those of the founding team who are still at Inventure (in order of when I first met them)
Shaheen - the only member of the team who was present at the group strategy session in Oct 2004. It’s no coincidence that the core purpose of Inventure was developed primarily based on contributions from two of the six groups, one which included Irfan & Shaheen and the other, myself
Preet - Ms. Inventure, the first to join the team. Treats every student like they are her own
Kishore - solid as a rock
Varsha - the unsung hero!
Radhika - commutes 4 hours a day to our campus. That in itself speaks volumes for her commitment. Teacher par excellence
Linda - 1st time teacher, whose ability to manage her class, even when not present in class is tremendous!
Anasuya - ever calm, one of our most experienced faculty
Nagashree - a gentle soul whose depiction of Goldilocks as a bear at the orientation training still makes me roll with laughter!
Sinduja - fresh out of college, brimming with idealism. Working with her and being a part of her growth is a reward in itself
Andrew - whose tireless efforts on the sports field will propel us to many a victory
Jaishri - our flying angel from Chennai without who the learning lab would not be

The Lalwanis still recall standing at the school site with them on a Sunday afternoon in Feb 05 with a bit of the foundation sticking through the ground. Their belief in Irfan Razack /Prestige Construction and the idea of Inventure made them admit their son Tanuj, our first student into grade 3 (now in grade 6)

My mentors and advisors who have inspired me through their own dreams & actions, while giving me support to develop and achieve my own. Add to the list on page 1, is
Mrs B -whose wisdom, “intellectual dissent”, and affection, I have benefitted tremendously from.
Last but not least, THE INVENTURE COMMUNITY of you our parents, students and faculty, whose commitment has helped us stand tall as one of the leading schools in Bangalore within fours years since inception.

Thank you…..

Nooraine Fazal
Co-Founder, CEO & Managing Trustee

Christmas Not Far Away!!!!!!!!

On every 24th December day.
All the people always say.
‘Christmas is a wonderful time.’
‘You have to decorate an evergreen pine.’

‘People put up candy canes’
‘And start playing Christmas games’
Santa rides on a flying reindeer
With a bottle of kingfisher beer

Santa climbs into the chimney
And he enters the house without a key
Presents are left under the trees
And Santa gets Milk and Cookies

Then he goes back to his elves
And he makes presents for 2012
Have a happy holiday
And make it the best Christmas day

By Rohit, Benjamin & Anish
Grade 7A
Media Pod

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Pep talk from the American President

U.S. President Barack Obama is a charismatic orator. Like many heads of state, he probably has help from a stable of effective speech writers. But he is also a skilled writer himself. One only has to read his books, Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope, to be impressed with the power of his ideas and expressiveness.

Obama’s recent Back to School speech, broadcast to welcome and inspire millions of U.S. school children, is one such piece of effective writing. What makes this speech ring in our ears long after he finished his delivery? Let’s map it.

The speech begins with obligatory welcome remarks. Obama recalls how he used to drag his feet too as a child when it was time to work. This creates empathy:

“Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I'd fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I'd complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."

Obama establishes a bond between his audience and himself. He is not on a pedestal; he is just like us.

Having done this, he dives into the crux of his speech: As critical as your parents, teachers, family or the government can be in helping you on your path to success, the key ingredient is your own responsibility towards yourself to perform to the best of your ability and circumstances:

“But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world - and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed. And that's what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.”

Every person has a special ability that can enrich one’s community and country: “And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That's the opportunity an education can provide.”

No effort is wasted in service of one’s country; no talent is unwanted:

“We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don't do that - if you quit on school - you're not just quitting on yourself, you're quitting on your country.”

We may not succeed easily or find fame. That should not discourage us. We owe it to ourselves to create our own dreams and make them come true. Even if success eludes us, we must forge on towards our goals. Obama cites his own childhood, when his father walked out on his family, leaving young Barack bereft of goals and his mother struggling to make ends meet.

“Maybe you don't have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there's not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don't feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren't right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life - what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you've got going on at home - that's no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That's no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That's no excuse for not trying. Where you are right now doesn't have to determine where you'll end up.”

Success is hard to come by, and so what? “I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work - that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you're not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won't love every subject you study. You won't click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won't necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.”

Rejection is an obstacle to overcome. Obama refers to actual students who were weighed down by disease and unstable families and still overcame these odds. He mentions that novelist J.K. Rowling and basketball icon Michael Jordan both faced repeated rejections yet still vaulted to fame.

“These people succeeded because they understand that you can't let your failures define you - you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn't mean you're a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn't mean you're stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying. No one's born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work.”

The President’s advice is simple: Believe in yourself. Don’t give up. If you fall down, pick yourself up and move forward. If something doesn’t work, go back to the drawing board and create a new plan. Work hard to improve your skills. Ask lots of questions. And when you need help, seek it.

Obama refers to history, briefly, to allow his audience to connect their struggles with the harder challenges that people before them encountered and overcame. People who would not give up fought and won America’s independence from British colonial rule 250 years ago. Their descendants overcame the Great Depression, won the Second World War, fought for civil rights for blacks and sent the first man to walk on the moon, accomplishing all this because they believed in themselves. And 20 years ago, a bunch of American students founded Google, Twitter and Facebook, which have revolutionized the way the world communicates. Today’s students are part of this grand continuum of self-belief and hard work.

Obama says he would do his part and improve the country’s education policies, but he needs every student to pitch in their fullest efforts. “So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

The speech reaches out to its intended audience: school children. It succeeds because instead of being a droning sermon, it is an inspiring pep talk from a coach and who urges every player on his team to go out there and win.

By Reena Stamets

Going Down Memory Lane-Mrs.Shaheen Shafi

Inventuring at Gerry's farm

Old George Mackenzie used to dance
With boxes on his feet,
He danced outside the playground wall,
He danced along the street

He danced for statues in the park,
For gulls beside the sea,
He danced for scarecrows in the fields,
At night he danced for me.
I’d lie awake until I heard him
Thumping through the town, His lullabying boxes calling,
Sleep now, settle down.

Till one dark day a car found George
And followed him about
And when he turned to dance for it
A grey haired man got out.

Complaints had been received he said-
A letter in his hand-
And George could either stop by choice
Or have his dancing banned.

George didn’t speak when asked if he
Had anything to say,
Just kicked his boxes off and shuffled
Silently away.

And now at night I lie awake
And listen to the rain,
And cry for sleep and dreams and George
Who never danced again.
Richard Edwards

For many years I worked with teachers and schools helping open windows of the mind and heart. It was sometime then, that I participated in the visioning workshop for Inventure Academy. As we drafted the core purpose and promised to instill in each student the conviction and ability to realize their true potential and excel anywhere in the world …I wondered ….was it possible that this school would be different?

And sure enough it was! From the very first month of school, Inventure has been unique in its ability to translate its promise tangibly into its curriculum and the culture. Though it took a few months for us to settle in and get a fully functional building, not once did the spirits flag. In the eyes of each team member one could see the passion and the commitment shining through and in the students, excitement, confidence and the joy which comes with discovering the true meaning of learning.
Four years on, we continue to build on our dream and each day bears witness to this amazing cumulative effort.

I believe in Inventure’s vision and that is the reason why I am here. The strength of my conviction comes from the faces of our children. I see in them dreams and an ever growing belief that they have what it takes to make their dreams a reality. The conviction equally comes from the team members who constantly strive to find ways of connecting with their students, refusing to give up on any one of them, or those who with their quiet strength form the backbone of the school keeping it functioning smoothly.

George Mackenzie gave up the boxes on his feet because no one accepted his uniqueness nor celebrated his special gifts.
At Inventure people are encouraged to exult in the joy of self realization. Here empathy and competition, exploration and excellence, discipline and a free spirit are part of a harmonious weave, not competing but complementing each other.

And as we dance, the boxes on our feet continue their magic… of hope, trust and possibility.

Shaheen Shafi
Head (Primary and Kindergarten)

Going Down Memory Lane-Ms.Preet Aarons.

Back in late 2004, I was looking for a job change and happened upon an ad. in the newspaper that described the perfect school. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, they say – so I shot off my resume, bit my nails through Christmas and waited. Was rewarded with a call for an interview which got me so nervous and excited that I was ‘yes ma’am-ming’every 3 seconds in response. That is, till The Voice told me not to call her Ma’am. Wow! I thought, this sounds different.

I presented myself the next day – and was early for a change! The door to 305 Copper Arch was firmly shut and just when I had convinced myself that I was in the wrong building – a tall young female rushed in juggling laptop cell phone and bag, apologizing for being late etc etc. Bemused, I followed her in, was seated and realized belatedly that his was Nooraine Fazal!!! Not quite a match to the picture of the interviewer I had in my mind – elderly, with the requisite white haired bun, crisp saree and complementary attitude.

What followed was an easy exciting exchange of her dream for the school and what education should rightly be and my passionate views on how school should be about the kids: fun, compassionate, meaningful and balanced. In retrospect it seemed like a perfect fit. I was so thrilled to meet a kindred soul, someone who believed in the same things and when I accepted the offer, it just felt right!! That was in January 2005. It was not till February that it dawned on me that there was no actual school building yet. Never thought to ask!!!

Those were exhilarating times – coordinating faculty recruitment with the Teacher Foundation, meetings with the school consultants, architects etc. I was charged with energy and ideas and contributed passionately at meetings which usually ended with vehement arguments and much laughter. The atmosphere was informal, but intense; easy but highly professional. There was no time for slacking off and very soon we were off on a whirlwind tour of apartment buildings and clubs – conducting workshops showcasing the proposed teaching approach of the school. Even today people remember and mention that innovative and invigorating method of launching the school. Even in retrospect, I can feel the pain of the slog it took – but that was Inventure Academy: different, daring and dynamic!

By far the most interesting part of my job was interacting with parents and potential students. The common denominator was that they were looking for a change, looking for meaningful challenge, looking for a school that would take their children into the next century. Given that there was not even a building to show – it is absolutely amazing that 25 families took the plunge, gave us their children’s lives to nurture, educate and develop. Their confidence and faith in the concept, in the people behind Inventure Academy and their ability to deliver confirmed that it was an idea whose time had come.

I have this vivid memory of a group of us – potential student, mother, father and grandmother! - sitting in a tin shack at ‘the site’, sipping Mirinda from plastic cups while all around us was the dust, the clanging and drones of an extremely busy construction site and they were not fazed by it at all. They did not seem to think it an odd way of introducing the school. They were excited, they were infected by our enthusiasm!

Teacher recruitment was different and meaningful too. The Teacher Foundation had candidates go through a rigorous 5 step process. Needless to say, it was the firm believers and the truly committed that stayed the course of a written statement of purpose, group discussion, subject interviews, management interviews and a whole day outbound experience where groups of hopefuls had to (amongst other challenges) put up a tent while all but one were blindfolded – a lively exercise in team work – which did not work with all the groups. A humbling exercise that proved that teachers aren’t perfect after all! However, the determined of spirit and strong of heart made it through and 15th May 2005 saw a chattering group of fresh recruits invade our offices, while they went about their business of bonding and setting up the academics.

By now it was fairly clear to me that what Nooraine said, Nooraine did! Not one for empty promises, her sheer drive, energy and focus was infectious and just what we needed to get the school on track in a matter of months. Come June – and it was apparent that the building would not be ready. So, we started on a farm!! Xplore, spearheaded by Shaheen Shafi of iDiscoveri, was originally intended to give our new recruits a taste of nature, adventure, creativity, and bonding – but extended into a few months as the builders hit glitches like bedrock and sand truckers strikes.

The kids were as happy as the pigs on the farm. Their learning was immense – about their surroundings, about themselves. For their projects, a group decided to build a tree house. Only 2 bravehearts saw the project through to completion. Learning no1: it is difficult to work as a team. Learning no2: hard work is difficult. Learning no. 3: I have great ideas too. The group that constructed a real pond was more cohesive and successful. Everyday, they were sent home by nervous teachers, covered in mud. But the next morning they were back and ready for more!!!Even the youngest group who dug, tilled and planted rajma seeds were triumphant about their experience and learnings. The real triumph was for experiential learning – nothing works like hands- on- activity! Happier were their parents when they saw what their kids had achieved – how they had grown in confidence, in their ability to learn.

July 14th was a landmark day – our first visit to the school as a community. The rain and squelchy mud could not dampen spirits and everyone – students, parents, teachers and stakeholders - were jubilant as they explored the site and left their palm prints for posterity. We have been partners in it since then – walking hand in hand.

For me personally, the beauty of Inventure Academy lies in its total commitment to a vision of education that is relevant, child centric and nurturing. Beyond this – the can-do attitude, the fun and energy, the willingness to go the extra bit, and the joy of watching children experience sheer delight in the learning experience have made the last 4 years whizz by during which one utilized every talent possible, acquired other skills and ended each day with a thirst for more and the conviction that the best was yet to come!!!
Preet Benjamin Aarons
Head of Admissions and Client Relations

Going Down Memory Lane-Ms.Radhika Surendran

Looking back, I recall my dreams, aspirations and plans for making my classes interesting to those little ones entrusted in my care as I walked into the office of Inventure Academy on the 16th of may, 2005. I was glad to be part of the founding team as the school shared the same ideas on education as I did.

For years, I had been working on progressive education helping students discover concepts and have the joy of learning. After our orientation and innumerable meetings of various committees, we got to planning for our classes. I was all excited as this was the part I liked the most….. action at its best. I began planning; I made sure that I used various methods to bring about learning. I had a lot of group work in my plans. I was all excited to implement it in my class.

Finally, the day arrived to meet our students at the “Explore programme” that was held in a farm. Can you guess how many students I had in my class? I am sure you can’t…… Well, after all the planning for great group work that would help discover a concept, I had just one student in my class. Forget about group work, I didn’t even have a pair to do an activity. I was disappointed, it was more like tuition…. It was a one on one teaching where my great dreams of group work wouldn’t be successful. Soon, I pulled myself together and decided Sanjali and I would be a great pair and will discover concepts together. She was the most wonderful and dainty angel that I had ever had as a student. I restructured my plans and after one week of regular school together I had Srinand being part of my class. Srinand had just moved in from the U.S. He was a voracious reader and extremely well behaved. It was a dream ….. I had two angels in my class now. The three of us had a good time learning through activities, expressing views and reorganizing our thoughts after having heard the perspectives of each other in our little group.

Off, I went on a holiday in October and returned to find another charming student in my class. Arshaan always had a charming smile and the four of us had a wonderful time discovering concepts together. The kids never considered me their teacher but as part of the class. Whenever any one asked them what the strength of the class was, they always said “four”. We called ourselves “The team”. Towards the later half of the academic year, Abhinav walked in as a student of the class….. He called himself a foodie. He was patient and quick to learn. We were very excited to have another member in our team. Well, I should agree when people say that patience pays off. It did pay off for me. We closed with four students in my class and of course me as part of the grade 4 team.

I taught the same class the following year and guess how many students I had? Well, I had fourteen charming, bright and interested kids. Well, I also had some really naughty ones as well but what is a class without them. Can be very daunting at times but looking back it was good fun…. All the arguments, fights, disagreements….. was another interesting way of learning. I was happy that I could now use so many different methods in the class. The following year I taught a different class. They too were a very interesting class with different interests and were fun to work with. The batch of 2007-08 was a class that was expressive about their feelings to their teacher and fellow classmates that made it a family and home.

I enjoyed being part of the lives of the students I taught at Inventure and was extremely sad to let them go at the end of the year. One might laugh….. if I reveled my little secret. I always cried when I keyed in the year end reports of my students as I couldn’t bear the thought of separation from my students. It was like a mother who felt extremely sad to part from her brood. I secretly hoped that I will be their teacher next year as well.

Life moves on….. I get to interact with wonderful kids each year. Although this year….. I don’t teach a particular class, I am interacting with almost every class and learning more about the needs of different age groups making me a better teacher and an individual. I have the students to thank for…… I have learnt a lot from them.

Radhika Surendran
Educator,Primary School

Going Down Memory Lane-Ms Varsha Saxena

It was in March 2005 when I was going through the newspaper that I saw the recruitment advertisement of Inventure Academy, it rung a bell. I had first heard of this school when they had come to my apartment complex to hold a children’s workshop. I recall I had felt that they had the commitment and the confidence to start the school and foster excellence in their students. Though I decided to apply for the job, I was not sure where I would fit in a school with my experience in Administration and Finance MBA background.

On 5th May, 2005 when I was in Hyderabad for a vacation I got a call from Inventure Academy asking me to come for an Interview. I got back in a couple of days and attended the interview. I remember sitting in the copper arch office quite nervous, not sure what to expect. I finally met Nooraine and Renu and thus my journey as Manager Administration and Finance with Inventure Academy began.

From day one, I felt comfortable and had a sense of belonging at Inventure. There has certainly been a lot of learning. Being a set up school, there were a lot of challenges and everybody was expected to chip-in whenever the need arose. Every time we overcame a challenge it gave us an immense sense of happiness and accomplishment.

One of the first challenges we faced was when we decided to start the classes at the Vydehi Institute, it was one big hall that we had to convert into classrooms… not an easy job but we managed to do it. Afterwards when we finally moved to our own campus it wasn’t exactly a bed of roses either. There were hiccups & hurdles every day, but working as a team makes achieving even the toughest task a breeze!

Why Inventure Academy for me? Firstly, it is my belief in the school, its core values and a management committed to everyone’s success. It is the attitude, the spirit of openness and sense of togetherness. It is the freedom to take decisions and the commitment from one and all that makes you feel that you belong to a one big family. To top it all, I enjoy and cherish my colleagues and the positive “can do” attitude that they bring to work with them every single day. It’s no wonder then that a school so young in age is on its way to maturing into one of the country’s finest institutions so fast.
When I see how happy the children are at our school it gives me the reassurance that we are doing something right here. No doubt, we still have miles to go… but I’m sure every step is going to take me, and the Inventure family one step closer to our pursuit of perfection!

Varsha Saxena
Head of Administration and Finance

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Going Down Memory Lane-Ms.T.S.Sinduja

You think School….and your mind pictures a building, plenty of noisy kids, books, exams, sum fun and lots of strict teachers looking like they are on a mission to save the world!

I think Inventure….and the most amazing memories come rushing to my mind’s eye! Everything from starting on a farm with 17 enthusiastic teachers and 27 pepped up kids, studying in the company of cows, Alsatians, pigs, snakes and scorpions [you better believe it!], building a tree house, digging a pond, weaving a hammock, to swelling to 180 students by the end of a year and a half, giving established schools a run for their money, and even becoming one of the Top 25 schools in South India in less than 4 years! If that isn’t great, what is???

If I had to pick one incident that has left a lasting impression on my mind…I can’t, for the simple reason that every single moment at Inventure Academy since May 2005 has been memorable, has contributed to my growth, and has made me view education as being the best possible field to be associated with. But if you really want me to share at least one incident…here it is. I will never forget this moment for as long as I live.

It was the end of the Foundation Programme in June 2006 – the beginning of the 2nd academic year at Inventure. Kids had finished with a Treasure Hunt. The winning team had found a box full of goodies. The team consisted of 3 kids who had been at Inventure since its inception and 10 others who had joined afresh. The majority wanted to keep the goodies to themselves and not share it with the other teams who had lost. The 3 kids from Inventure were lost in silence and refused to touch the prize. When I noticed their reluctance, I shushed the crowd and asked the 3 kids why they were stepping back, to which one of them answered…”Our teachers here have taught us for a whole year that the greatest joy lies in sharing. How can we enjoy these goodies while we watch our friends from the other teams go empty handed?”

That statement was a validation of our success as a school – we had managed as a team to get our students to be thinking, sensitive and feeling individuals – qualities that far exceed the ability to ace an examination or be able to recall facts by rote! I shed tears of joy then…and I am sure that I will have many more such instances to rejoice over at this wonderful school which encourages one to “VENTURE withIN”!!

Sinduja T S
Head of AQMS