Dr Arun Prakash
As I reflect on my life’s journey this Teacher’s Day, I can’t help but marvel at the incredible adventure that brought me from humble beginnings to a career in education. It’s a story filled with laughter, learning, and leadership, and it all began with the guiding lights in my life.
Early Lessons: A Family of Intellectual Giants
In my world, learning started at home, and my parents were my first teachers. They instilled in me the value of knowledge, setting the stage for a lifetime of learning. My mother’s insatiable curiosity and hunger for new ideas fuelled my own love for exploration, while my father’s voracious reading habit, encompassing everything from historical novels to philosophical classics, ignited my passion for books.
I had the privilege of growing up with two remarkable siblings. What made our family unique was the absence of sibling rivalry. We were bound by strong family values and even shared a single plate for our meals, symbolizing our close-knit bond.
Formative Years: The School Beneath the Trees
My educational journey began in a village school that was a far cry from today’s modern institutions. There were no blackboards or desks; instead, we sat under the shade of trees, taking refuge from the scorching sun. To say we lacked facilities would be an understatement—there were no toilets, either.
But in this unconventional environment, I found joy in simple pleasures. We carried mats and wooden slates called “Takthi,” which we meticulously polished with charcoal and powdered graphite for writing. Chalk dissolved in water, applied with sticks, served as our writing instruments. Surprisingly, we revelled in this unique learning atmosphere, competing to see whose “Takthi” would shine the brightest.
Early Leadership Lessons: A Tale of Determination
In a school with only two teachers, and with the headmaster ailing, I had the opportunity to step into leadership roles early in life. Collecting fees, assisting other classes, and maintaining discipline became my responsibilities. It was an education in leadership that went beyond the classroom.
One teacher who left an indelible mark on my life was Sri Jagbandahan Ji. He taught all five classes single-handedly and had a knack for captivating students’ attention. One day, he presented a mathematical puzzle that required solving five rows of numbers but only after writing the first one. The catch? To discover the solution, one had to push his bicycle as far as possible on the way back home. Despite being one of the smallest in my grade, I pushed the bicycle the farthest, demonstrating a determination that would shape my lifelong love for learning.
Higher Education: Where Mentors Sparked the Fire
My journey in education continued as I pursued higher studies. Ewing Christian College, Allahabad, introduced me to two exceptional mentors, D. Kumar sir, a chemistry wizard, and Dr. Lalit Mohan Srivastava, a biology maestro. They were not just teachers; they became role models who shaped my teaching style and dedication to education.
A Journey of Mentoring and Leadership: Blessed to have able Gurus.
With a passion for teaching firmly ingrained, I pursued further studies at the University of Allahabad for M.Sc. and Ph.D. Here, I had the privilege of learning from learned professors who nurtured the best learning and research practices. Dr. M.H.N. Srivastava and Prof. A.K. Srivastava became not just mentors but sources of inspiration. Prof. A.K. Srivastava, known for his innovative teaching methods, even introduced me to the mystical world of computers.
Then came the senior research fellowship, along with the responsibility of teaching B.Sc. and M.Sc. students. I eagerly embraced this opportunity, volunteering to lead practical classes. With Prof. A.K. Srivastava as my guiding star, I honed my teaching style and found a wellspring of confidence.
A Fulfilling Career: From Learner to Educator
My career as a schoolteacher commenced at Delhi Public School, Korba, under the mentorship of Dr. B. Singh, our principal. Dr. Singh wasn’t just a leader; he was a beacon of unwavering commitment to education. This phase also introduced me to a remarkable group of colleagues who, in their unique ways, contributed to my growth. Names like Mrs. Radha Ratnam, Dr. Renu Jain, Kiran Arora, Rekha Kulkarni, Meenakshi Mukherjee, Sukhwant Singh Thaper, J, Mohanty, Sanjay Yadav, Ms. Leena Mukherjee, Ms. Queenie Jones, and Dr. Prashant Tiwari, Dr R N Tripathi, among others, created a vibrant tapestry of inspiration and camaraderie.
But the journey didn’t stop there. I ventured into the world of school administration, taking up the role of founder Principal at DPS Dhaligaon. With legendary figures like Mr. D.B. Dass as Pro-Vice Chairman and a dedicated team including Neena Newar, A.K. Mishra, Neeta Gupta, Utpala Bora, we embarked on a mission to innovate and inspire. The journey continued with assignments at DPS Guwahati with Dr A K Pansari, DPS Bilaspur under Capt. Abhimanyu Sindhu, DPS Jeddah with Mr. Zia Nadvi, and Academy International School, Dubai, guided by Mr. M.B. Eswaran, SAI International School, Bhubaneswar with Dr B K Sahoo. Each experience was a chapter filled with lessons and laughter.
Receiving the President’s Award from the esteemed hands of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the President of India, was a profoundly memorable moment that I hold dear. During our interaction at SAI International School in Bhubaneswar, it became evident that a teacher should consider themselves fortunate to glean wisdom from such legendary figures.
At Laurels International School, my own school, I found the freedom to shape my dream school alongside my wife, Mridula Prakash, with unwavering support from the extended family and friends.
Transitioning from Vidya Bharati School to the Promising Platinum Valley International School has presented its own unique challenges. With Dr. Alam A Sisodia, the General Secretary of the school’s management, providing invaluable guidance, I am confident that we can elevate the educational landscape of the region.
A Teacher’s Gratitude
With over four decades of teaching experience under my belt, I reflect on my journey with profound satisfaction. In the words of Dr. Renu Jain, a colleague known for her wisdom, “We teachers are paid to live our passion.” I proudly declare, “I am a proud teacher of incredible students,” recognizing that the truest lessons are often learned from the students themselves.
As Teacher’s Day approaches, I extend heartfelt gratitude to parents, families, and society, recognizing their pivotal role in nurturing individuals. I express appreciation for mentors who lit the way, and most importantly, for the students who served as my canvas for lifelong learning and growth.
Teaching is not just a career; it’s a calling. My journey embodies the transformative power of education, filled with laughter, learning, and leadership. As Teacher’s Day dawns, let us salute all educators, for they are the beacons that illuminate the path to knowledge. Happy Teacher’s Day!