Modern School, Nagpur established in 1987 is one of the most reputed schools in the city and has come a long way both in terms of success and popularity. In an interview with Nation Next, Neeru Kapai, Director and the woman behind the three-decade old Modern School speaks about the school, her way of education and her quotient with Aruna Upadhyaya, the Director of Centre Point School. Excerpts:
You have been the principal as well as the director of Modern school. Is it easy or complicated to manage the business of education and academics both at the same time?
I have never considered Modern School as a business venture. The passion I have felt being the principal and the director is the same. Of course, playing a dual role is very stressful. The task of bringing resources for the development of the school plus ensuring the academic performance is challenging. I started as a teacher and soon I got an opportunity to lead a school. It’s a very unique experience and the opportunity made me realise my potential. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my journey and the level of sense of achievement and job satisfaction is beyond words.
Modern school has become a huge brand in Nagpur. Please tell us about the initial struggle.
I started Jingle Bells Kindergarten in 1980s in a small area at my husband’s garage. It was a wonderful journey of seven years. Our parents encouraged us to move ahead and in 1987, I and my husband jointly started Modern school in 1987. We did not have any godfather, and no wealthy industrialist backing us; just a desire to do something huge made us owners of Modern school. Our goals were very clear and we had the potential to take the school to a high level of excellence. We are proud of where the school stands today holding a good reputation and financially stable. We were not very financially strong and we built our venture brick by brick. I can proudly say that we don’t owe money to anybody.
Have you derived the name for your school from Modern School, Bara Khamba Road, Delhi?
Not at all! We were given five names by the local registry department out of which we had to choose one. ‘Modern School’ was the last option and we liked it. In fact, we were not even aware of the similarity at that time.
Water logging in monsoon is a perennial problem in Modern School. Is it primarily because of Gorewada plant? Isn’t a permanent solution possible?
It’s from the last two or three years that we are facing this problem. We were the first ones to start operations in this area when we started the school. There was absolutely nobody in the neighbourhood. We strived really hard for the construction of the roads, for electricity and phone lines. Later, people came and the area started developing. Gorewada gates were opened the day water reservoir was inaugurated and the flyover height was increased. The entire colony was under water that day. It’s really sad and it’s high time that the concerned authorities should wake up.
Nagpur being a small city, many families of the students must have familiar relations with you. In this regards, do you face any problems in disciplining students known to you?
There are so many children in Modern School whose parents and grandparents know me personally. I never acknowledge them and nobody gets an advantage. The instant you show familiarity to a child, he pays a price with his performance in school. I didn’t give that advantage to my own children! I served nothing to them on a platter and official letters from the school were sent to their father. It has never been a problem for me and I think it’s because of the way I have conducted myself.
While modern school was established in 1987, Centre point school was established in 1988. How do you look at the comparatives between the two contemporary brands?
I am very positive and clear. Centre Point School is doing very well and Modern School is giving it a healthy competition. I think comparison is for the just for the sake of comparing. The truth is, every school has something unique. If the comparison is about the quality of education, I am okay with that. I know we are one of the best and there’s scope for improvement to be the best.
Apparently Aruna Upadhyay (Director of Centre Point School) and you are friends. What kind of bonhomie do you two share despite being competitors?
We get along very well without interfering in each other’s professional lives. Aruna has her own distinctive aura and style. She is blessed with a very strong financial support which I don’t have, but still we bond very well. She has always been very tremendously supportive of me. I think it’s necessary that one have a positive and healthy competition.
What are your future plans and mission for Modern School?
Modern School pass outs are in every corner of the world in various professions and that makes me a very satisfied and a proud person. These kids have given me a spot of respect and have made me a happy soul. But, there are still lots of desires to be fulfilled. I am definitely looking forward to carry on with same fashion and passion. My goals are very clear; Children passing out from Modern School should do wonders in their lives and they should be happy. I don’t like children who are only good in academics. It’s necessary that there is an all round development and they are emotionally strong. They should be naughty as well and live life to the fullest. There’s a lot of exposure these days and in spite of that children are not mentally mature; they get tempted to experiment. It’s important to make them understand that it is not necessary that they burn their fingers every time to learn; they can learn from others’ experience as well.