Shruthi Yalamalli Arun, the young and dynamic Principal of VIBGYOR High, Electronic City, one of the leading international schools in India… She is a woman of the modern era, who firmly believes that every woman should work not only for financial independence, but also for her own identity, career goals and recognition, just like any man. Academician, environmentalist and an active marathon runner, these are some of the varied facets of her personality. Recently, she received the elite International School Award for her school from the Director, British Council.
Excerpts from the chat.
Q1. Tell our readers briefly about yourself.
A Bangalorean, I grew up in this IT hub, resisting the pressures to become either an engineer or a doctor. Early on, during my college and university days, I was actively involved in environmental projects of research and activism, working voluntarily with various NGOs. The foray into teaching was something that just happened, for lack of other opportunities during the postings of my husband, who was an officer in the Army then. Having started by teaching Post Graduate students, I eventually moved into school teaching and loved it. Although, this move was questioned by many, I chose to stick to what I liked doing, giving it my all and grew from strength to strength.
Q2. Was there a teacher/mentor that had a particular impact in shaping up your career?
Although there are many mentors who I would have drawn inspiration from and learnt from in big and small ways, I think no one has had greater impact on my career than my parents. My father has been an exemplary professional all his working life, and I get my zeal, sincerity and strong work ethic from him. My mother has largely shaped my personality in a way that greatly helps me be a good people manager ,which is imperative to a leadership role. She drilled into me from very early years, the need to find your own in a man’s world. Also, I wouldn’t have had the single-minded focus to go out there and build my career, if it wasn’t for her strong, bankable support in caring for my young son. The encouraging and no-demanding presence of my husband has helped too. And yes, naming a teacher who had a lasting impact on my life is something that I must do and that is this extremely gentle American teacher called Mr. Dennis Poland, who taught me for a few years that I spent out of the country, when I was in Primary School. He was extremely encouraging and led his students gently and yet, most effectively on the path of learning. He loved what he did. And that is most important for a successful career, to love what you do.
Q3. Can you tell us about the award which you received recently? What it means for you?
VIBGYOR High, Electronic City, along with four other branches of the Group of Schools,received the British Council International School Award (ISA) for the years 2015- 2018 for ‘Outstanding Development of the International Dimension in the Curriculum’. The ISA is an elite, globally recognised benchmarking scheme that accredits schools as having an outstanding level of support for nurturing global citizenship in students and enriching teaching and learning. Applying for the ISA was an initiative where we sought to acquire formal accreditation and recognition for VIBGYOR High’s philosophy, curriculum and teaching practices, which have always embraced internationalism. More than 2,000 schools across India, sought accreditation this year, of which 252 schools across India and only 17 schools from Bangalore have received it. So it was a moment of great pride for the entire VIBGYOR family when we received this most coveted Award. This is an important milestone in our journey and we look forward to take the school to the zenith of glory, as envisaged by our Director of Academics, Ms. Kavita Sahay, who has been a strong pillar of support and encouragement to us. I would also like to thank Mr. Rustom Kerawalla, Chairman and Managing Director, VIBGYOR High Chain of schools for empowering us with his vision.
Q4. As you are passionate about environmental issues, what is your view on environmental conservation education amongst children?
Environmentalism cannot be viewed as an activity in isolation. It has to be a way of life for conservation to be effective and meaningful. This is only possible if children learn its importance from very young and impressionable years. Tomorrow’s leaders need to be equipped for tomorrow’s challenges, and we must adequately prepare our children for the future they will inherit. That requires a commitment to providing children with environmental conservation education. In the long-term, creating awareness about conservation among children will pay off when they become decision-makers, managers and users.
Q5. Finally in your opinion how does VIBGYOR set itself apart from other international schools?
Founded in 2004, VIBGYOR High is one of the leading chains of schools in India, known for its quality holistic education. We cater to students from Pre-primary to Grade 12, with a teacher-student ratio of 1:10 on an average. A diverse, experiential and integrated learning programme that recognises the child as an active agent in his/her own learning is the key highlight of VIBGYOR’s curriculum. VIBGYOR High provides a mixed spectrum of national and international boards of education such as ICSE, CBSE and Cambridge International Examinations (IGCSE and A-levels) and is set to explore new horizons with 20 schools in six major cities, reaching out to more than 25,000 students nationwide.