A Letter to The Big Apple School Culture

While writing this post, I am sitting alone. I learnt to be alone first time when I was four, and my grandfather took a scared, angry, and crying Vinish to a nearby school. Sitting on the school building rooftop, I screamed harder and louder as an airplane would pass from top of my head. As if the class teacher were responsible for the noise.

Both the teacher and the airplane looked exactly same to me. Intimidating. Unknown. Don’t-know-what.

A school is the first real world interaction opportunity for a child where one first learns what it means to be alone.

When I enrolled my four years old son — Naman to Big Apple India School in Panchkula, I was prepared for how he would respond on first few days.

First Day: Naman walks into The Big Apple

A few talks at home prior to the schooling helped. But only for the first day. I saw the reluctance, fear, and anguish combined and it was challenging for us to take him to his first school.

I was careful that he learns to go to school in a positive frame of mind — sooner the better.

Today, he completes two years of schooling — pre-nursery and nursery.

Dear “The Big Apple India” School Culture,

At my first brush with the school when I picked my niece from there, I could smell you. I thought most of the schools may be doing similar to what I saw there. Later when I landed in the school for my son’s admission, I saw you were dressed the same. There were greens and browns, the lush green lawn and the little brown-mix animals.

Here are a few things I particularly liked about you.

  • I could sense how you encouraged ownership, experimentation, and empowerment in the kids.
  • Dee Ma’am ensured attention to details, while seeking feedback and comments from parents. I saw the purpose in her talks.
  • I loved the teachers’ uniform — they were always dressed in smile, with open hands to take over crying kids.
  • I saw delight in small things, in the colors and the white space.
  • The support staff act needs an applause for all the hard work to ensure cleanliness and personal hygiene care for all kids.
  • Every time I entered the premises, I felt the buzz without a noise. As if something is happening but it is targeted and friendly.
I often see that culture is either underrated or overrated in the world. In Big Apple India School, I saw that you cannot be overrated.

If you are, it is often worth it.

[A pause. Writer at work.] A few more thoughts.

  • Small pillars of strength such as saying the prayer before tiffin, and saying national anthem — Sense of discipline
  • Feeding little birds and bunnies — Proximity to nature
  • Support staff cleaning the floor whenever kids vomited there — Commitment to promises
  • A fine balance in life learning, craft activities, leaning alphabets, and storytelling — a learning experience for kids

I Invested. You Paid Back. You Will Continue Paying More.

Investment in culture is very interesting. It pays back not only to the investors, but to all stakeholders, and to the whole community. You too were smart and obliged me.

I regularly paid my share during my son’s anguish-filled days.

When he vomited, I changed his clothes in the car.

When he was reluctant, I listened to him sitting outside the school building for twenty minutes to ensure that his internal turmoil aligns with what best you offered.

When he asked me to wait for all other kids as he wanted to enter a class full, I waited in the car for fifteen minutes.

The whole objective was to help him trust me and my support. You helped me there too.

My wife ensured that she gave all required space to our son, not to overwhelm him with statements that school is a must. School is preferred.

Yes, school is preferred. You helped us to persist rather than to insist.

Storytelling

I am a content experience specialist and a storyteller and unsurprisingly, Naman too did well in storytelling. Here are a few moments when he won appreciation in telling stories.

Your Role

A school culture is about community and balance. So I can understand why my son could not make it to the finals on the sports day, or in artwork.

That is the real power of school culture, to cultivate leadership in every child in the class, for one’s specific strengths.

Dear The Big Apple School Culture, thank you for the way you responded to the airplanes around our kids. The Big apple has done its job for Naman. The fruit is there in your branding. I will see the nutrition when Naman responds to the bigger orchards. You rock. And as I said earlier, you are never overrated.

Naman’s father drops him over to you for the last time today. Here is a minute before that.

Before I hand over my son to you, for the last time today.

Vinish Garg | @vingar

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