|| NAL Nursery School
An idyllic world for our tiny tots
Tucked away in a corner on the NAL campus is a small building that houses the NAL Nursery School. This pre-school was started to prepare children of NAL employees for Kendriya Vidyalaya and its syllabi. Mrs Shyamala Valluri, wife of former NAL Director, Dr S R Valluri, the School's former principal. We catch up with Mrs Valluri.
What about extra-curricular activities?
We actively encourage such activity. Nursery children mostly play with toys. The older children play on the ground. We also have jigsaw puzzles to improve their physical and mental skills. Playing makes them learn faster but they don't realize that.
The Annual Day functions must be a pleasure to organize.
Oh, they are simply wonderful! The children really love it. It is a chance for them to participate in different cultural activities. We teach the children songs in Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, and quite a few patriotic songs. We organize Children's Day in a big way. From November 1 to 14, we have talent competitions in a lot of things like drawing, recitation, games, songs and others. Sports Day is another big event. All children participate in everything. Practice itself takes a month or so. After this we have the semi-finals and the finals. The way the children participate is itself a treat to watch. I love to watch them enjoying themselves.
Apart from this do you have any other way to hone their skills?
We do have a timetable in which we have some time for drawing, colouring, singing and other activities.
Every school has its share of mischievous kids.
How do you handle them?
I talk to them. Make them feel a little repentant. I also separate them. They don't want to be away from the activity, so they learn. It always works. I have been very lucky to get good teachers who work whole-heartedly and really love the children. This is very important for a school to run smoothly.
Did you deliberately choose to teach younger children over older ones?
When I was at the Army Service Corps School I found it nice to be with small children. So I just continued. And now I suppose I prefer to work with younger children rather than older children. That is why I am very particular about not expanding.
What frustrates you the most?
When children don't improve. Children with learning disability are very sad and disheartening. There are one or two every year. I think I can do more with the help of the parents. If we don't do it now, when they are young, it snowballs later. And that makes me very unhappy.
What about funding for the school? Is the funding comfortable or is that too a source of worry?
Funding is pretty difficult. NAL pays for the water and electricity and I thank them for that. But we have problems in paying salaries to our teachers. For nearly 15 years, salaries didn't change. Last year we could finally raise salaries, but at a price: we find that we now can't give enough concessions to worthy students. I felt very happy when Dr Somashekar and some others created a trust to support the two most deserving poor children in each class. But apart from this we don't have anything. We don't want to increase the fees,.. but we do want to ensure that the school remains attractive. It is quite a dilemma. I wish people come forward to support our scheme to sponsor a child for a year. People should come forward! People who can afford it, like someone who doesn't have many financial worries, whose children themselves are doing well...
Do you have a role model?
Not one but several. My parents, one or two teachers. Things people have said have stuck with me and influenced me.
Your future plans?
I think I have continued for a long time already. People don't want me to leave. I want to stop.
Ending on a more general note, what do you feel about the Government's recent move to make Saraswati Vandana compulsory in schools?
I see no harm in this. The sentiments in the prayer should apply to every child. Nothing wrong. We try and make the prayers in the school as 'secular' as possible.