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'A school should be a home away from home'

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Principal of St. John the Baptist High School in Thane, Fr Michael Pinto, started his teaching career at St. Sebastian High School, Chembur. Initially Pinto only wanted to teach kindergarten students, however after 23 years he now manages an entire school along with a school for disabled students under the same management. In a candid conversation with The Afternoon D&C writer Aishwarya R Iyer the humble yet strict-when-its-needed Principal shed some light on his journey.

“A school should be a home away from home," said Fr Michael Pinto who believes in the theory of school becoming the second home for the students. He says that the teachers should treat every student with the same love and attention, the way they (teachers) treat their own children. Pinto earlier wanted to pursue Masters in Social Work (MSW), however he was pressurised to do B.Ed which prepared him to work as a teacher in schools and other education institutes.

Happiness is the key!
Earlier Pinto refused to teach in schools as he was more inclined towards MSW and Church activities but seeing the way the kindergarten students reacted to each activities they were given he was encouraged. "I could never stop smiling looking at the way these small children were enjoying. Seeing them happy encouraged me to pursue this profession," said Pinto. Having immense love for the subject Math, carved a path for Pinto in a Chembur-based school. "I was asked to teach Math for time being and because I loved the subject I went ahead with it," Pinto added, who after this never turned back!

Love Taking Challenges!
When Pinto shifted to a Ghatkopar-based school, he faced the real challenge as a Principal. "My initial days were terrible because everything was so different than what I had expected and it was a new experience altogether. However, I never quit because I love taking challenges," said Pinto.

"The starting one month in these schools was like a trauma, however as time went on and the teachers, students and parents started accepting me, things became lovely," he added.

Barack Obama Enters
In 2010 when the former US President Barack Obama visited Holy Name School in Colaba, Mumbai to celebrate Diwali, Pinto was the Principal of the school. "We were touched by how down to earth the Obamas were," he said. Through this visit, the students of the aforesaid school got different exposure. "Our students displayed their projects and it seemed like the President was highly impressed," Pinto added.

Don't worry, Parents!
Fr Pinto advises all the parents to speak up, without any fear or hesitation. He says that parents are the ones who should take responsibility and become the voice of their kids. He says, "During every Parents Teachers Association (PTA) meeting, I've seen parents hesitating while talking about issues their students are facing. Maybe they are worried about how the school management would react or reciprocate." He added, "We are here to hear every problem the students have. By bringing transparency we can create a better future for the students!"

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