Sugandhi Viswanathan, Principal, Aklavya International School

By Sugandhi Viswanathan, Principal
Sugandhi Viswanathan,Principal Sugandhi Viswanathan is a passionate teacher first, trainer, transformer and a principal who believes in life-long learning with a vision for self and others and believes in principle centered leadership. She believes that focusing on what is there and what needs to be accomplished most effectively will bring out the excellence in any field. She is an avid reader and keeps herself abreast with the latest developments in the field of education and understanding the perspectives that drive these developments. She is a proud Indian who has a deep respect for the ancient heritage of our country and values her country stands for.

We create an environment which is conducive to trigger the neurons in the brain and the creativity, critical thinking, logical thinking and thinking beyond the box happen in children - Sugandhi Viswanathan.

A visionary like Dr. J. Arawindhan, the founder of Aklavya International School, (AIS) nurtures the core belief of students having latent talents in arts, science, or commerce and builds a strong foundation for them to defy any unfavorable life circumstances for accomplishing academic desires. "Teachers like me who aspire to design career paths for students through which they can create a mark of humanistic aura, always thrive for resonating philosophies from our chief mentor, Dr. J. Arawindhan. He believes that every child is born with 100 percent intelligence and textbook knowledge amplifies it," says Sugandhi Viswanathan, Principal, Aklavya International School.

Located in Thengaithittu, Puducherry, one of the most charming union territories of India, Aklavya International School follows ICSE curriculum which emphasizes the conceptual understanding of students from class 1 to class 12.

Sugandhi went on to add, "The curriculum in itself does not encourage rote learning and lays emphasis on conceptual understanding. On top of that we insist on skill building relevant skills of the subject as well as the 21st century skills. Suppose, if we are dealing with a concept like food we look for understanding of the students at the bloom's taxonomy levels whether they are able to list, classify, differentiate, demonstrate, apply to creating a balanced nutritive value on one hand and on the other understand and appreciate the value of the food placed before them, learn about all the hard work so many people have put in to put the food in front of them, respect nature for the nurture they receive deeper values beyond the lessons which will help them live life in appreciation, a positive world filled with possibilities and ensure
prosperity and contentment."

Aklavya International School provides multiple intelligence reports within 15 days of a student's admission, which they call DMIT report. When a child enters school, his multiple intelligence composition is assessed and he or she is guided to take up an extra-curricular activity which is in alignment with the MI assessment. This early assessment is conducted to develop an instinct for high ambition amongst the students that is needed for growth in this competitive world. The students are encouraged to envision their career aspirations early on and individual visiting cards for each student is printed and given to them. Students are then encouraged to meet people from their inner circle, outer circle, greater circle and larger circle (these circles represent the known and the world of social helpers, political personalities, professionals, administrative personalities, etc) and meet people from the profession they want to take up in their life.

Sugandhi adds, "We create an environment which is conducive to trigger the neurons in the brain and the creativity, critical thinking, logical thinking and thinking beyond the box happen in children. We are also in the process of bringing ambidextrous writing, removal of specs for life, mid brain activation, whole brain learning, learning agriculture for life, learning through cinema, life skills training through seven habits which ensures both the wow factor and happiness quotient. Our motto of "Empowering minds, Enriching Lives" will come true of every student who walks out into the world a confident individual, with a vision for himself and humanity at large completely in alignment body, mind, heart and soul".

"Aklavya International School provides multiple intelligence reports within 15 days of a student's admission, which they call DMIT report"

In order to expose students to the working of the industries, their norms, the school also promotes field trips to various industries like transport and hospitals, where students can communicate with all strata of people and gain insights on real-life hardships. The students have been very active with Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, Kiran Bedi's social works. They participate in cleaning beaches and streets and planting trees and also undertake campaigns to eradicate open defecation.

Story of an Unsung Leader
About two decades ago, when Sugandhi Viswanathan started working as a teacher, her vision was improvement for education and teaching quality. She has had the good fortune of having been mentored by two important people in her career.

Mrs Bala Padma Rani, founder principal of the school she started her career as a teacher and the Chief Mentor of Achariya group of World Class Institutions Dr J Arawindhan. The fact that her philosophy about education resonated with the philosophy of the mentors only led to her inner growth exponentially.
A passionate teacher, Sugandhi, shares, "I feel teachers ensure the future quality of citizens and progress for any nation. The enticing factor of teaching is working and leading a team of people with the same intention of serving and contributing. It makes peer-to-peer learning easier and an inevitable part; being a constant learner, I value this the most. Another tantalizing part of working as a teacher is seeing the smiling faces of the students; I get renewed energy every morning when I see the smiling happy faces."

Sugandhi feels a teacher's job is more than teaching students, as teaching is the nucleus of every profession that brings about a growth on a daily basis for everyone from organizations and its stakeholders to any national progress. Sugandhi says, "Recently, in the month of June 2019, we received "A Great Place to Study Award" from House of Commons, London. So, the energy now at the school campus has got multiplied by cloud high optimism, which is encouraging every student and teacher to perform exuberantly."

Aside from working as a principal, Sugandhi is a Seven habits practitioner and a master practitioner in neuro-linguistic programming. She devotes her time for the students' development in every aspect of life. She feels, "Understanding that no two students are the same is very vital for pedagogy structuring and planning. Not everyone is born with equal distribution of intelligence. But everyone is born with 100% intelligence. The problem is, our educational community does not possess the intelligence to assess them in all domains and equipped with the know-how".

Getting family support for achieving greater career heights is a blessing for every individual and Sugandhi Viswanathan is one of the blessed ones. Her family that includes her husband, sons, and daughter-in-law understands and supports her in every possible way to make her comfortable in balancing between personal and professional life. Her granddaughter, who is just nine months old, makes her day even more special when she returns home. "Because I look at things from different angles, I have come this far in life. As a student or as a teacher, I have taken my challenges as stepping stones that I needed to overcome to achieve the milestones. As a teacher, I understand the students' problems from a mother's stand-point and then guide them towards the better path," concludes Sugandhi Viswanathan.

HER FAVOURITES
Book: The Art of Man Making
Authors: Vivekachoodamani
Inspiration: Swami ChinmayandandaHoliday Destination: Goa, Cherai beaches, backwaters of Kerala
Hobby: Reading (from comics to articles on spirituality and quantum physics)
Movie: Anbe Shivam
Quotes: "You are essentially who you create yourself to be and all that occurs in your life is the result of your own making"