In 24 hours from now the 3.2.1 team will welcome our first set of parents and students into our school.
In 24 hours our future students will meet their teachers who will explain to the tiny kindergarten kids that from now on they will do whatever it takes to even the odds for them.
And, in 24 hours a long held dream would become a reality.
I started dreaming of starting a school about 630 days ago in the September of 2010. Since then it’s been an incredible journey. It started with me skipping Teach For India placements and figuring out how to get to the US to study the education reform movement. And then to many crazy months of fundraising, selection interviews, acceptance to the fellowship, and starting legal work on the school and the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) partnership.
In June of 2011, I finally landed in the US – 6 months of incredible learning, going to almost 15 cities, visiting nearly 40 charter, public and private schools, having more than 200 meetings with exceptional leaders and then coming back completely exhausted and insanely excited.
After that the India journey began in December 2011. Hours spent daily either at the government offices to find empty school buildings or meeting potential funders. Along side this spending weeks to figure out the complicated legal requirements for opening a school.
Simultaneously, recruitment became a priority and it required many weeks of effort to get our founding teachers and staff members.
With all this the nights were spent in going through legal documents, making contracts, designing marketing strategies and making budgets, 5 year plans, 10 year plans, operational plans, instructional plans.
The weekends went in working on crafting our philosophy, vision, mission and model, defining our instructional framework and our support systems, finalizing our curriculums and assessments and making policies and official documents.
And I also sneaked in a trip to Finland (one of the world’ best education system) in the middle of all this.
I was very lucky to find an exceptional team along this journey who have truly made this dream their dream. We spent many evenings and nights in the past few months meeting, understanding each other, sharing our beliefs and forming a common vision all the while balancing multiple commitments.
All this lead to a 4-week training institute which was planned and executed in house. We had long, deep discussions on everything from philosophy to international best practices. We spent a lot of time learning lessons from exceptional leaders and organizations in diverse fields like technology, sports, psychology, brain research, performing arts and medicine. We got exposure to great systems and organizations, studied the latest in cognitive science and behavioral psychology, poured through the works of giants in the field of education, analyzed exceptional schools and school systems and then worked on creating all the resources required to setup a school. We finished our institute last week.
And this leads us to now – today when we are one day away from starting our school we feel elated about these 3 big things:
1. We feel lucky to have an incredible team, which is very talented, passionate invested. Also, they are an extremely cool bunch of people to hang out with.
2. We have had a really successful training institute, which has set us up for success in the future. But also aware that it was the honeymoon period of our journey and the real challenges will start when we open our doors to nearly 90 crying 5 year olds.
3. We have managed to recruit about 90 kids and plan to push this number higher in the coming weeks. This is despite severe challenges of starting recruitment months after neighboring schools had started and convincing skeptical parents.
I want to end with this long report with this:
Gratitude is a very important value of ours so I am very grateful that now I can say our journey instead of my journey. I am grateful for all you wonderful people who have supported us on this journey. We are standing on the shoulders of giants and we are extremely grateful for that. We are grateful to the parents who are trusting us with their kids. And we are very grateful for having found that rare and holy thing – passion.
Tomorrow is a big for us. Wish us well dear friends!
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