Thursday, May 28, 2009

Margaret Das - High School Coordinator

Margaret Das’ relationship with KIS began in January 1995 when her children Samanthea (Class of 1997) and Ben (Class of 2001) started school here. In 1997 Andrew (Class of 2006) joined the school and in 1998 she joined the faculty as Piano, English and ESL teacher. Between 2001 and 2003 she was HoD of the Music department. She adopted Rebecca (Class of 2004) and Rachel (Class of 2009) in January 2001. From 2003 - 2004 she led the ESL department while retaining her responsibilities in the Music and English departments. She was the Honorary Local Representative for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, London, from 1998 - 2005. Her husband Pradip Das joined her at KIS as Vice Principal in 2002 and left in 2005, after a short stint as acting Principal, to set up a new school in Bangalore. Margaret will leave KIS as High School Coordinator as well as the responsibilities she assumed for Professional Development when former Vice Principal Gregg Faddegon left in November 2008.

Her comments on being High School Coordinator: "I assumed the mantle after Ajay Lall and thought to myself, ‘I will never fit his shoes’, but was told by Gregg Faddegon the Vice Principal at the time, “You never need to fit anyone’s shoes. Be yourself!” and that was the most practical advice that has helped me in this role. What I have loved most about it is the time I can give every student and colleague who walks into the office. For me it has been a place of laughter and tears, of enabling the venting of strong emotions but also a place for the art of negotiation!”

About the BOW program, she has this to say, “The BOW program is what I have recently been associated with. The two awards-namely, the Fisher-Das awards for Best Overall House and Best House Captain were instituted to commend positive behavior, character and leadership. I believe the BOW is what makes the KIS values visible and I hope that the program will continue to be refined and our graduates will be men and women who are walking brains with compassionate hearts and ready hands”.

What about her time here at KIS? “Diversity and differences are enriching… every moment of my life here has been exhilarating because of the surprises each day brings….. I feel I have grown as a person as well as professionally in so many ways as I have always risen to accept the challenges offered to me….. I would also like to encourage every parent with my own experience… all our children graduated from KIS with the KIS Diploma which has enabled them to study both in India and overseas and has turned them out as responsible and caring young men and women. They each chose to take IB certificates in the subjects they loved the most rather than the full IB Diploma. This ensured that they could do well in those certificates and get college credits for them, as well as be fully involved in sports, drama and music and community service. This is the uniqueness of the KIS program… all students have a choice to grow and develop in their own special way.”

When asked if there were any amusing stories she has of her time here she says, “When I first joined KIS, the maid who came to work with me was totally bi-syllabic. She ‘seemed’ to understand what I said in English and would respond with a “Yes, Ma!’ to most things. As I did not know a word of Tamil at that time, I would write out a list of what she had to cook for me. A week later, one of my colleagues asked me in the staff lounge, ‘How was your beef stew last night?’. I was nonplussed, wondering how she knew what I had had for dinner. In the next couple of days I had the same interested query from other members of staff who lived on the same campus. I finally discovered that as the maid had no English whatsoever, she would stand by the gate and accost any staff member and ask them to translate what I had written. So my first ESL challenge was to provide her with more culinary vocabulary in English and the other challenge was to improve my own drawing skills as I then began to draw what she had to cook for me till she acquired the words she needed.”

She also recalls a very effective strategy of identifying same gender identical twins: “Each year there is invariably a set of twins in my class. And I can never tell them apart. I got around this by calling both names rapidly in quick succession and without fail the right twin would always say, I’m Ravi / Raj, etc.”

After 11 years of serving in KIS, Margaret now moves on to Pune to join her husband who is currently the Principal of Indus International School, Pune. Her responsibilities will include, among other things, Headship of the English department, support of the Music program, the challenge of setting up an ESL Center, and publications in an editorial capacity. We wish them both God’s blessings as they team up again as work partners and enrich the base for their family.