07.04.2017

Greetings from the Principal’s desk!

Dear Parents,

The theme for 2016-17 was “Build on Basics” and MHS built on its academic reputation when CISCE declared its ICSE and ISC results on 06 May 2016. Batch 2016 fielding 183 students for ISC, had 91.8 as the average score placing Modern High School for Girls, Kolkata in the limelight at the national level. Anjali Bajaj scored the highest with 98.75%. In ICSE, the school highest was secured by Shreya Murarka with 98.4%. 66% of our ICSE students scored above 90%.

Learning is closely associated with reading and right from the Primary and Junior departments which organized Bookworm Tales exhibition and Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) day to Senior school which realigned its library activities, the habit of reading was given a special thrust. We also introduced the concept of Bookbins in every corridor that encouraged sharing of reading resources as a student- led voluntary activity.

The focus of the past year has been to remove the mental block that science is “difficult” and to combat the presumption that studying science is limited to cracking competitive examinations. Apart from demonstrative lectures and usage of digital visualization in class room situations and increasing the number of opportunities to do lab-work, we took a deliberate decision to encourage students to attend lectures and conferences in the city, take part in national and international level competitions and seminars and participate in field visits. The details of these will be found in the school Magazine Lotus Buds. A special mention needs to be made of Asia-Pacific Forum for Science Talented held from 19th to 24th July 2016 in Taipei, Taiwan in which six students of MHS were invited to represent India. More than 30 countries sent those talented in science to brainstorm ideas, work collaboratively and creatively and share cultures as part of project ‘Problem Solving for Future Scientists’. I take this opportunity to share that we have been invited again in academic session 2017-18.

Session 2017-18 adopts a double pronged theme: Think Design and Do it Yourself. Design Thinking is a concept that is taking the world by storm currently as we realise that the process of problem solving is the only tool to equip future generations with skills required for innovation as well as consensus building. Closely aligned is the need to be self-sufficient so that every experience is identified as a change maker and the doer becomes a change agent. Some of the initiatives planned around this theme for session 2017-18 are as follows:

MEDHA IN STEM: Mobilizing Excellence and Development of High Ability in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is a venture of Modern High School for Girls to foster creativity and excellence among talented school students and to prepare them for higher challenges in STEM areas. This will be offered to middle school students many of who show the potential for stretching beyond the boundaries of a set curriculum and are malleable enough for their natural curiosity to be tapped and directed towards training in innovative thinking. Details of this will be shared shortly.

MHS will also participate in its first Student Exchange Programme with its partner school Gesamtschule Gelsenkirchen Ückendorf in Germany. 14 students and two teachers from both schools will visit each other in May and November and take part in project Denk Global, Leb Lokal (Think Global but Live Local) that started midway in 2016 and has been kept active through skype conferencing ,the visit of the German Principal and faculty, emails and virtual planning platforms. This exchange is being looked at as not only as an opportunity for cultural exchange but also a platform where the theme of the year –Do It Yourself that expects experiential learning is realised through self-management in a host family, travel and conduct without the cocoon of immediate family and immersion in a different learning environment. MHS being a Pasch Partner Schulen (Partner School in Education) , enjoys tremendous support from Goethe Institut , Max Muller Bhavan . It has been chosen to host the National German Youth Congress in partnership with MMB in November. From 2017 we are introducing Mandarin (Chinese) as a third language option in class 5. This adds to the rich catalogue of languages taught in MHS- English, Bengali, Hindi, Sanskrit and German as well as French that is available through MACE. Multilingualism is the global buzzword presently as research shows that complexity of thoughts is directly linked to dexterity in language skills and the first part of our annual theme Design Thinking is given a structured and deliberate platform.

In academic year 2016-17, special emphasis was laid upon training the trainers at all levels – primary and junior, middle, secondary and higher secondary. Apart from in-house pedagogy sessions twice a month , MHS teachers have attended twenty seven external workshops including expert sessions in school specially designed for MHS teachers, seminars in the city, CISCE subject workshops, workshops conducted by The Teacher Centre at Loreto , workshops conducted by British Council, seminars organized by CII, International sponsored training sessions and leadership module at IIM,L.In session 2017-18, this goes a step further as the whole school participates in International School Award mentored and certified by British Council through projects based on interdisciplinary as well as across class level learning. The learning network will also include schools across India and beyond India as PBL mandates partnerships within MHS as well as beyond MHS.

As parents your contribution and impact cannot be denied by either your ward or the school you have chosen for your ward’s nurturing. They are daughters of” Life’s longing for itself “and as Kahil Gibran puts it “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” It’s your values that we see in the conduct of your child in the class room and the play field every day. It’s your wisdom and caution that guide their choice of company, the information they seek and the decisions they make about their careers. It’s your hopes and dreams that they try to fulfill as they mature from three year olds who enter MHS in their red aprons and leave as confident, perceptive and empathetic 17 year olds in their thin- blue striped shirts and holding their pony tailed heads high.

As we step into another year, I hope that all our students are a little more capable and that their learning is not limited to their grades. I hope that it has made them better engaged as lifelong learners – with deepened insight and intellectual curiosity.

Welcome to academic year 2017-18!

With warm regards

Damayanti Mukherjee


31.03.2016

Greetings from the Principal’s desk!

The motto of academic year 2015-16 was “ Shine Your Light ” and this was amply explored through the academic and co-curricular activities which gave opportunities for individual success stories as well as glory as a team/organisation. As part of the process- challenges were identified, thoughts modified and reflections attempted so that achievements felt deserved and failures felt surmountable.

The highlights of the CISCE Board results declared in May 2015 show steadfast academic work. The school average in ISC was 91.6% and Bushra Arshad secured the school highest with 99.25%. There were 28 full marks( 100 percent ) score in various subjects. In ICSE segment the school average was 87.2 % and Mihika Poddar scored the school highest with 97.8%.

When we talk about lifelong learners, we talk about independent self-study, critical thinking, going beyond syllabus and research oriented work. The class XI students have responded well to the introduction of subject based, independent research oriented extended essays of 2000 words that incorporate case studies, laboratory work, interaction with experts . This has been a voluntary exercise this year keeping in mind the ISC syllabus load, internal projects in almost every subject and specialized coaching commitments of students appearing for competitive examinations for medicine, engineering and law.

It is no longer tenable to think that a time bound pen and paper exercise is the only filter to assess learning. To this end Mindspark classes in Maths and ASSET tests offered multiple platforms for self -evaluation. We had informally partnered with the self -learning portal www.deltastep.com which has adaptive lectures and self -evaluation segments - the registration key was shared with MHS students of classes VI to VIII for self- exploration in Science and Mathematics .This year we offered the International Benchmarking Test (IBT) by ACER ( Australian Council) and the results show that in numeracy many of the MHS students who volunteered to take this test are well above the world average. However one constraint was noticed. Till the time all parents show their enthusiasm for these kind of benchmarking platforms , we will be unable to determine how ALL our students stand vis a vis the literacy and numeracy standards- nationally or internationally.

Whenever required, MHS extends a subject beyond the classroom and beyond the so called syllabus and some of the measures taken this year deserve sharing.

• Class X has project requirement in ICSE and the History department chose Human Rights as a topic and invited resource persons Justice Sanjeeb Banerjee and activist Anchita Ghatak to speak and later the students watched ‘Beneath the Veil’ – a film on Afghanistan and filled a questionnaire based on individual research and perspective study. 

• The Nature Club members took up the task of creating a ‘Butterfly Garden’. An NGO called ‘Nature Mates’, provided them with caterpillars and taught the girls how to look after them. From collecting leaves from the host plant for food to cleaning the containers and changing the tissues, the girls took turns in doing them all. It was a delight to see students from all classes trooping into the Biology lab to see the caterpillars changing into pupae and after the long wait metamorphose into beautiful butterflies. The excitement surrounding the release of the first “MHS Butterfly” into the school garden was an experience to cherish. To see is to believe, and this was a lesson the girls would never forget. 

• For Commerce students of ISC, a lecture cum interactive session was organized on Corporate Social Responsibility in August, 2015. The resource persons were Mr. Swarup Sen from Novartis and Mr Nazeeb Arif , Vice President at ITC Limited and the students got a clear idea about the changing role assumed by the corporates towards business ethics and social responsibilities in the last two decades. 

You will find many such instances of experiential learning in the annual magazine Lotus Buds under the Principal’s report segment.

We have tackled the problems of Mathphobia and poor performance in Mathematics through differentiated study support in terms of remediation and in certain cases of identification of learning difficulties such as dyscalculia, an alternate set of subjects that boost confidence through success. This empathic support structure has worked very well in this academic session - in class X, in Mathematics , tutorial classes have proved to be specially useful. Therefore one of the goalposts of next year is to equip more teachers to identify early the signs of remediation need and to train them to support the identified students right from the beginning of the session.

The world is talking about multilingualism and how a multilingual brain is better equipped with cognitive skills and adapts easily to multitasking and processing of information, has enhanced problem solving abilities and is excited about change and therefore fosters open-mindedness in an individual. At MHS, we offer Hindi and Bengali as mandatory second language options till class XII and Sanskrit and German as third language options till class VIII. It was due to the visible support of Max Muller Bhavan/ Goethe Institute that in 2015 we were able to host the cultural event of Treffpunkt for not only the Pasch and non Pasch schools of Kolkata offering German, but extend it beyond the national borders to invite students of neighbouring Bangladesh and Nepal. This is the first time that this has been attempted by a Pasch school in Asia and this venture has been deeply appreciated by the German Consulate and was showcased as one of the best practices in the Principals’ Conference held in Malaysia in January 2016 and attended by over 100 heads of school from South Asia. Taking a leaf from our German experience, we have now associated ourselves with Alliance Francaise and plan to offer French as an extra language learning opportunities in after school hours from 2016. If the programme succeeds we hope to offer it as part of the school subject offerings from 2017.

From 2018, we will be offering International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme under the aegis of International Baccalaureate Organisation , a non-profit organization based at Geneva, as an optional curriculum after class X .IBDP is recognized as one of the most academically challenging curricula on offer in present times and will suit the needs of students who are independent learners, are open to application and analysis based learning processes, find their academic interests ranging over a wide variety of subjects and can commit to exhaustive research. IBDP is not only for students wishing to study outside India-173 Indian Universities recognise IBDP and mark-sheets are transcribed to meet the entrance requirement of Indian universities. 

The mainstream school will continue to offer ICSE and ISC.

As promised in my last year’s letter to you , our Career Guidance Cell has grown in activity and strategies. We were successful in creating multiple guidance opportunities for students through professionals called in , university visits, dedicated Counselling Week in school run by a professional team and a Career Fair. In 2016, we mean to put in place “shadowing the professionals” plan for senior students .

Whenever we think of school, we think about our students for school is a chalice of their dreams and an arena to prepare for life. However we must not forget those responsible for igniting the spark—the faculty . Through the year the MHS faculty have been attending professional workshops or conducting some themselves. To mention a few: Mrs. Amita Prasad, Vice Principal, attended a workshop on Improving Learning – Professional Development Programme for School Teachers organised by The Hearth Education Advisors on 20th and 21st August, 2015 in Mumbai; Mrs Sharmistha Das , senior Chemistry Teacher, attended the Project Based Approach of Learning Workshop organised by Teachers’ Centre Loreto House on 8th December, 2015; Ms. Ritika Kunda and Mrs Paramita Banerjee participated in Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Project conducted by British Council Library as part of their Connecting Classrooms Project 2015-18- Ms Kunda’s learning design has been selected by a panel of facilitators at British Council as one of the best learning designs and would be included in their 'Handbook for Embedding Core Skills in the Curriculum' publication; Ms Somali Mitra has written parts 1 and 2 of an eight part educational series published by Harper Collins –it is called “Engaging English” and is meant for ISCE schools ; Ms Priyadarshinee Guha has conducted a workshop for History teachers of the city and Ms Asmita Chatterjee, conducted multiple German online magazine workshops for students at Max Mueller Bhavan and has earned a scholarship to gain further training in Germany this summer. Our Primary and Junior Head Mrs. A. Confectioner visited her counterparts in various schools in Mumbai to interact on pedagogy and also observe classroom practices. I have attended and presented on “How to Approach School Improvement” at the Pasch Principals’ conference in Kuala Lumpur this January and been certified as Head of School of an IB Candidate School in the International Baccalaureate Regional Conference in Hyderabad in March .You will find many such details of our pedagogy enhancement efforts under Faculty news in the school website.

Much has happened in 2015 and much is expected in 2016. My appeal to you as parents is-teach your children to differentiate between a want and a need; permit them to look for rivers to swim and mountains to climb, music to hear and books to read; help them find friends to cherish and a life to lead; encourage them to experience the sun in their eyes and the wind in their hair, a flutter of snow and a shower of rain- for this childhood will not come back again!

Warm regards 

Damayanti Mukherjee 

Principal 

Modern High School for Girls 

Kolkata