The last few months have been unprecedented for students around the world, and the field of education in general. Never before have schools been closed for such a long stretch due to a natural or man-made calamity. Children are not only at home but are bombarded every day with messages that generate fear of this unknown contagious disease called COVID-19. Moreover, the most important step needed to be taken by the schools today is to organize and support children, on all walks of life, catering to their needs, during these tough times of high uncertainty. While most of the schools around our country are preparing for the worst and have moved on towards continuing imparting quality education, some schools such as the SFS Academy are conducting accelerated learning classes, to help children learn and grow, and get back into the rhythm of learning, irrespective of the medium of teaching used. Setting a clear example to fellow CBSE Schools around Bangalore and the other parts of our country, SFS Academy moving on the lines of Saint Francis De Sales is striving compassionately towards human, spiritual, and intellectual awakening, guiding and helping students become socially committed and culturally integrated human beings.
“Education of the heart is the heart of education”, quoted Fr. Peter Mermier, the founder of MSFS congregation. SFS Academy is a part of the same congregation. Words of their founder echo in every endeavor pursued on campus, imparting high-quality education to prepare the young for opportunities of life. Also, primarily focusing on knowledge, excellence, love, and service, the management of the school works day in and day out to provide a conducive atmosphere for intellectual development, by facilitating conviction and nurturing a sense of divine transcendence in all the members of school.
Started with an aim to promote a community of respect and love, a unique system of selection of students takes place at SFS Academy. Creating a welcoming environment for all, irrespective of race, skin color, profession and so on, the education offered at the school is extended even to the underprivileged children, providing them with the same platform as that of children belonging to the creamy layers of society. Along with imbibing students with the latest 21st century education, new concepts and new skills are introduced on campus, in accordance with the pace of each child, utilizing a completely student-centered teaching.
Creating service-oriented well-rounded individuals
“An educated individual is well balanced, wise and harmonious from within”, quoted – Rev. Fr. P.M. Lawrence, the principal of SFS Academy. A firm believer that students of today hold a greater responsibility to remedy the shortcomings of society tomorrow, heading the whole parade at SFS Academy, he goes beyond his conventional responsibilities and conducts one-to-one sessions with the teachers regularly in order to understand the difficulties they face and also give them a thorough chance to share their ideas. Additionally, each student at the school is given a chance to meet a qualified mentor, for a feedback session, which is repeated when and where it is required. The principal also visits each class regularly to attend each student’s concerns, always trying his best to build a good rapport between the management, teachers, students, and himself.
Treating all the teachers on the campus as valued content resources, the teachers are encouraged to share their knowledge via writings or lectures, in turn, helping them grow as trained individuals. Furthermore, letting them control what to teach and when to teach, the teachers always facilitate an active environment that embraces student participation, in turn, boosting knowledge and unique learning styles. They also engage the students in taking charge of their learning, functioning as – “guide by the side”, always taking care and encouraging the sharing of knowledge with an active participant. The teachers are made to complete a rigorous certification and are continuously engaged in activities that enhance their effectiveness as facilitators. “We know very well that we have to handle the children between the age of diapers and dating”, added Rev. Fr. P.M. Lawrence, ecstatically stating how as mentors the teachers at SFS are completely capable of handling emotions and needs of children from Gen-z. With the help of the statement, the principal also threw light on how students are given a complete foundation from their early years, using the well-designed curriculum for kindergarten & preschool, which is designed in such a way that every child learns through hands on activities.
Coming to the aspect of giving equal importance to practical education, SFS Academy believes that work experience will complement their academics by providing alternative learning experiences outside the classrooms. Also, providing students with skills and personal attributes that employers look for, all the students irrespective of their learning capabilities are given practical knowledge in all areas of their interests. Encouraging gardening on the campus, farm visits, industry visits, club activities and so on, greatly influence in providing different and valuable experiences to the students. Via the Annual Day celebrations conducted yearly, all students are given equal opportunities and placed under many events which help them to grow, recognize their skills and talents, right on track of becoming bold individuals, gaining experience and confidence in every field.
All in all, being that place, which boasts of state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure, needed by today’s student population, SFS Academy is home to well-ventilated classrooms, digital and recreational facilities and so on, which helped the school overcome the pandemic effortlessly. Helping students through remote learning from the beginning of the pandemic, from preschool to the 10th grade, all students have been supported to adapt to the norms. Lastly, with the feedback of the parents, students and teachers, the school management has decided to go with the Microsoft Teams app for the online classes which began as early as April 2020. Also, giving constant support to the teachers, students and staff present on the campus, the management has always strived towards an inclusive upbringing and by the looks of it, will continue on the same path, even in the years to come.
Rev. Fr. P.M Lawrence – Principal
Born on August 11, 1982, in Thanjavur to the proud and happy parents – Mr. A. Philp and P. Alphonse, he also has a sibling – P. Benedict. His illustrious educational career includes – B. A in English from Bangalore University, B. ED from Dharward University, M.A in English from Mysore University, Bachelor of Philosophy from Urbania University – Rome and Bachelor of Theology from Cameroon University(He released a research paper in French). Belonging to the MSFS congregation, he was ordained as a priest on July 23, 2011. He is multilingual and has sound knowledge about various languages such as English, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, and French. His educational experiences have allowed him to collaborate with different people to meet the common goal of increasing student achievement, learning and well-being.