In the pursuit of academic excellence and holistic education, Fountainhead School stands as a beacon of innovation and commitment. At Fountainhead, education is not merely a journey confined within the walls of a classroom; it's a lifelong odyssey that extends well beyond graduation. As a testament to this vision, Mentor magazine recently had the privilege of interviewing the school's esteemed Principal, Bhumika Parwar. The focus of our conversation revolved around Fountainhead's remarkable approach to empowering students through community engagement and service initiatives.
Fountainhead School's mission is succinctly encapsulated in their student mission statement: "To nurture leaders with character and competence." This noble ambition goes hand in hand with their overarching vision, which centers on instilling a profound love for learning in students, parents, teachers, and society at large. The core belief at Fountainhead is that education is a lifelong pursuit, a journey where the joy of learning is revered. In this endeavor, the school provides a nurturing, purposeful, and safe environment to help students develop the skills, attitudes, and character necessary for achieving sustainable success in life.
Fountainhead School is not content with the status quo. They are committed to scaling new heights in terms of curriculum innovation and teaching methodologies, with the ultimate aim of building an institute of excellence. This dedication to academic and personal growth extends to the heart of the community, where students actively engage with real-world challenges and make a difference through community service.
In this exclusive interview, we delve into Fountainhead's exceptional commitment to community engagement, exploring how it shapes students into responsible, compassionate leaders who are not only academically proficient but also socially conscious. Join us as we uncover the remarkable initiatives that have made Fountainhead School a trailblazer in holistic education.
1) What role does community service play in shaping the character and values of young individuals?
Students at Fountainhead School engage in community service, which is sometimes student-initiated or linked to the subjects they are learning. Our Middle Years theater students performed mime and drama at the Muk Badhir Vikas Trust (Deaf and Dumb School), and the response they received from those children was truly moving.
Students at Fountainhead School have a voice, are free to express their opinions, take action, and know that their voices matter. We had a tradition of a rain dance on the last day of school before the summer break, with artificial sprinklers. However, a few students realized that while this was a lot of fun, the water wastage was not justified. Therefore, they proposed that we organize the rain dance during the monsoons with natural rainwater and avoid wasting water. We listened to them, and now the rain dance at school occurs during the monsoons. It is crucial for students to implement their learning and see it in action. This gives them the confidence that they can bring about positive change, and their voices matter.
2) Can you share examples of successful community service projects initiated by schools or educational organizations that have positively impacted the community?
When our students learned about various bird species in their biology class and sustainable goals as a part of humanities, they chose to create bird nests and feeders. With the support of their teachers, they collaborated with SMC officials, and these bird nests and feeders were subsequently installed throughout the city's gardens. Additionally, our students visited old-age homes where they not only provided assistance but also spent quality time with the residents, playing games and engaging with them in meaningful ways. The old-age home manager eagerly anticipates visits from our students.
Furthermore, we celebrate Bal Mela at our school every year, during which we invite students from government schools to our school premises. Our students plan enjoyable games, activities, dances, jam sessions, workouts, and more for these students, utilizing the school's infrastructure and facilities for a day. This event provides our students with an opportunity to connect with these children, understand their stories and struggles, and empathize with them. Some students take this a step further by organizing similar initiatives for underprivileged children during weekends, thus witnessing the ripple effects of these community service projects.
3) How can schools encourage students to engage in community service actively, and what benefits does it bring to both the students and the community?
Given the amount of time children spend in school, they can be actively engaged in community service if it is integrated and incorporated into the school's curriculum.
Schools should educate students about the positive impact they can have through community service and encourage teachers and staff to participate in community service alongside students, setting an example and demonstrating the importance of paying it forward. We also recognize and celebrate students' efforts to serve the community so that more students become aware of it and are inspired to do the same.
Community service promotes personal growth by enhancing skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. It also helps students develop empathy and compassion, instilling a sense of civic responsibility that encourages active participation in community and societal issues.
In doing so, it enhances students' resumes and future prospects, boosting self-esteem and confidence. Ultimately, this helps address critical needs within the community, whether they are related to education, healthcare, environmental concerns, or social welfare.
Some of these projects initiated by our students are continued by subsequent generations, inspiring younger students to carry on the legacy and cultivate a culture of paying it forward.
Actively involving students in community service is a win-win situation for both the students and the community. It promotes personal development, strengthens the community, and instills a sense of social responsibility that can last a lifetime.
4. Can you share examples of successful community service projects in which your students have participated? What impact did they have on the community and the students themselves?
When our students learned about various bird species in their biology class and sustainable goals as a part of humanities, they chose to create bird nests and feeders. With the support of their teachers, they collaborated with SMC officials, and these bird nests and feeders were subsequently installed throughout the city's gardens. Additionally, our students visited the old age homes where they not only provided support but also spent time with the residents, playing games and engaging with them in meaningful ways. The old age home manager eagerly anticipates visits from our students.
Furthermore, we hold a Bal Mela at our school every year, during which we invite students from government schools to our school premises. Our students plan fun games, activities, dances, jam sessions, workouts, and more for these students, utilizing the school's infrastructure and facilities for a day. This event provides our students with an opportunity to connect with these children, understand their stories and struggles, and empathize with them. Some students take this a step further by organizing similar initiatives for underprivileged children during weekends, thus witnessing the ripple effects of these community service projects.
5. What role do teachers and staff play in facilitating and supporting students' engagement in community service?
As a school, we prioritize experiential and project-based learning. Our students learn through active participation and have the opportunity to apply their knowledge in practical ways. We empower our students to make a difference and give them a voice in their education.
For instance, some students recognized various needs within our school community and decided to offer their support. They noticed that the support staff in the school work tirelessly to assist students, teachers, and administrative staff throughout the day. In a gesture of gratitude, these students organized fun games for the support staff, fostering interactions and lightening their workload for the day while allowing them to enjoy some leisure time. When students generate their ideas, our teachers assist them in developing and expanding upon these ideas, provide logistical support and coordination, and help students bring their concepts to life.
6. What advice do you have for parents and guardians who want to encourage their children to become more involved in community service?
As a school, we provide a platform for our students to engage in meaningful service. However, it is crucial for parents to be aligned with and support these student initiatives. For example, when students participated in a day-long service activity to clean up Gavier Lake in Surat, their parents were fully aligned and offered wholehearted support. It's important to emphasize that service goes beyond simple donation drives or providing money. It involves active engagement with the community, dedicating time, raising awareness, and genuinely making a positive impact in society.
In one instance, a group of students proposed the idea of educating rural women about menstrual hygiene. This initiative necessitates students visiting rural areas, interacting with the community, explaining and persuading, and challenging existing beliefs. In order for student initiatives to succeed, it is essential for parents and guardians to be fully aligned and supportive of these efforts.
7. What plans or ideas do you have for expanding or improving community service opportunities for your students in the future?
We aim to establish partnerships with the local community to support river and lake cleaning initiatives, promote sustainability, and address plastic recycling within the city. Our teaching methodology spans across subjects and is intentionally designed to create opportunities for students to engage with the community and provide service.
Additionally, we organize rural immersion experiences for our Grade 11-12 students, during which they spend 4-5 days living in a village or rural area. They actively assist the local community with farming, repair work, and cattle management, while also engaging in meaningful interactions with community members. This immersive experience not only grounds the students but also allows them to offer valuable assistance to the local community.