Riad Mahmood 2014/July/01
We have a vision and a desire to work with young children and help them find a place to grow and learn without being consumed by the fear of outcome. Help us make this happen; we need your support!”
2005, From the HSEA opening speech
Riad Mahmood, Founder, Head Start Educational Academy
The last decade has gone by really fast! It has involved a lot of learning, been very challenging and a lot of fun. We began with ten six year olds and have grown since. Times keep changing and life keeps evolving but when you think about why you started a school time can stand still and remind you of the reasons why you did.
The fact is that we had no place of our own or any other great facilities to boast of, we somehow had just enough to keep the group going; this, along with a great set of parents who gave us our biggest gift, ‘Encouragement!’ Encouragement I would say is the biggest donation parents can give a school and a value that can help us impact children to the best of our ability.
What I remember most was how we built our school both physically and as a community of children, faculty and society. The physical campus grew with the children and we grew as educators and people working with children. The first decade is always very special and is what I would call the laying of the foundation. We worked very hard towards emphasising our core values and culture which eventually become the pillars of strength to any organisation. These values and exposures are what students can look back upon and draw information from to make decisions.
It took us a few years to set up our meal facility as well as our transport systems – two great areas to imbibe our core values. Initially the food was cooked at the Koramangala School and shipped to Sarjapur! Both parents and children were very gracious in accepting the initial teething problems!
The entire construction of our school happened in front of the children, enabling them to understand organic growth. I am sure our students have seen and learnt from all this. There have been a string of emotions that we have all been through as a community and these are fantastic moments to have lived through. I can imagine how parents too went through this journey with us and we have all shared our emotions with one another! I think we have all evolved as people.
When you go through different experiences with a community and live through them together you come out feeling more connected to them. You feel a sense of satisfaction, a feeling that you have given your best under the circumstances. I am sure we all feel the same way, especially those who have stayed through all or most of it.
Today we have ten young people getting ready for a final exam! They have grown up right in front of us and are now young adults who are ready to be a part of the world. They have all seen a lot and so much of their education has taken place outside of a classroom. They have managed themselves with courage and grace and have taken decisions and managed to live by them. They have travelled to different places with the school, they have seen the school evolve; they have had to face the fact that they were the smallest batch in school and also the first one. I am sure we will see this education unfold in time. The results of this education will be far richer than the results of the exam. These children will have the education to make a difference to society around them and I am looking forward to this.
Our team of teachers, many of whom have been a part of this journey in total or for a good part of it have also learned and evolved as people. They are still growing as educators and will continue to do so. They complete this decade with us and continue to carry the flag that represents the spirit that this institution was built on. Their commitment and integrity will live in the minds and hearts of our children who will one day look back and remember them with love and affection. I have always believed that great teachers are the ones that are not afraid to tell us what they feel or think. They just tell us the truth the way it is. They could be misunderstood for now but will surely be remembered in time!
Nothing gives us more satisfaction than to see a child pull through something that has been of challenge to him or her. As educators we are committed to helping a child overcome a challenge and not take it away. This is what we are there to facilitate and the more we do the more we are educating our children. We have laid down certain core values and cultures that we believe will benefit our children in the future and sometimes these are challenging to implement, but need to be persevered with; only then can we truly bring about realisation.
We truly believe that courage is what it takes to bring about true learning, helping children to see the world through their own understanding and through their own vision would bring about the change the world so truly needs. This courage needs to come from us educators and parents, sometimes we need to hold our opinions back and let them form their own!
Thank you all for giving us this opportunity to work with these wonderful children. Please continue to walk with us for we can pass this spirit on for decades to come!
WRITTEN BY RIAD MAHMOOD
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Dr Martin Luther King Jr.