Best School Principal Award being given to Ms Gouri Nair
It was on a Saturday evening last month that Ms Gouri Nair was told that she was the recipient of the CBSE
award for the Best School Principal. An international recognition of sorts as CBSE schools are not only there in India but spread all over the Middle East and countries like Singapore and Malaysia. But the moment she cherishes the most came the next working day.
"When I came to the School on Monday, all my students were out on the portico holding large banners which said 'we love you', 'we are proud of you', 'we respect you' and what not. I just couldn't hide my tears," Gouri Nair said. At Saraswathy Vidyalya, Vattiyoorkavu, Gouri Nair is known as a students' principal. "She is a stern disciplinarian. Yet she is approachable and students know she will always stand by them," said Mr Sanjeev, the maths teacher at Saraswathy Vidyalaya.
Gouri Nair's biggest achievement, many point out, is the social awareness she inculcates in children. During her nine years as Principal, Gouri Nair had launched a series of social service activities for students. The 'pidiari' or the 'handful of rice' project, which was started five years ago, is an example. Students, right from kindergarten to plus-two, have been asked to bring a handful of raw grains every week and deposit it in a large receptacle kept in the school. "The school has over 4,000 students and we are able to gather four to five sacks of rice every week which we distribute to old age homes," Gouri Nair said. Last year, she asked her students to contribute the pocket money they receive on their birthdays towards a special fund for the assistance of cancer-afflicted children.
"The response was heart-warming. This year we are going to contribute `1 lakh," she said. Ms Gouri Nair had also started a school for special children, 'Pratheeksha' within the school campus. "Our objective is to gradually integrate these special children into the mainstream system of education," she said.
Her leadership was put to test when the CBSE radically altered its curriculum. Teachers were unprepared for the change and parents apprehensive. Not only did she send her teachers to Mumbai and other centres for training and to attend seminars, she also took the initiative to bring the All-India CBSE Principals'
Conference to the School.
"These efforts helped us adapt fast to the changes," Mr Sanjeev said. When it comes to matters of administration she could be brutally decisive. Sanjeev remembers a rainy morning four years ago when a PTA meeting called to discuss a change in uniform threatened to go out of control. "Parents were against the change and were literally shouting. She got up amid the chaos and made a five-minute speech. That settled everything. Even the rains stopped," Sanjeev said.