Once Unhappy at Work, Now a Thriving School Leader: How One Man Is Running Thane’s Top School!

Once Unhappy at Work, Now a Thriving School Leader: How One Man Is Running Thane’s Top School!

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Santosh Nichite, Sarthak English Medium School, Shahapur, Thane

Background

Many people, despite having incredible potential and a desire for a fulfilling life, often feel like they’re not headed in the right direction. They aspire to channel their energy and ideas for the betterment of the community. Santosh Nichite’s journey mirrors this common sentiment. His determination to make positive changes in his community has established him as a successful school leader.

Santosh didn’t come from a wealthy family, but he never let that deter him from pursuing his dreams. After completing his MSc and securing a B.Ed degree, he aspired to land a stable job and lead a simple life. However, the job market proved challenging. Reflecting on that period, Santosh shares, “I sent out many job applications, but the only offer I got was a modestly paid position at an unaided school.”

Santosh believed in his worth and refused to settle for less. He gave his best as a substitute teacher, but couldn’t find a permanent job until 2005, plunging him into critical economic condition.

Rudraprasad Sahu, Vinayak Academy, Baloda Bazar, Chhattisgarh

Inspiration

Santosh had a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve in the future but soon realized that his current approach wasn’t producing the results he desired. He goes on to say, “I realized I needed to channel my time and efforts more strategically to create a big impact.”

Santosh, a smart individual with many creative ideas, often faced barriers when trying to implement his ideas in his regular job. With a strong desire to capitalize his full potential, he took a brave step and started his own school. “I wanted to turn my ideas into reality and make this community better,” he claims.

Also Read: A Resilient School Leader’s Fight Against Migration And Unemployment In Uttarkashi

How the school started

In 2006, driven by his passion for education, Santosh registered an educational trust and started planning the launch of a school. Although he was an excellent educator, he needed to gain experience in opening and managing a school. Nevertheless, after comprehensive market research, he mustered up the courage to open one. As Santosh aptly puts it, “When you’re thrown into deep water, you learn to swim out of necessity.” This is how he familiarized himself with all the school-related processes of starting a school and identified a location full of opportunity.

By 2008, they had opened their doors to an inaugural batch of just 25 students, addressing a major gap in the region where quality, affordable private schools were scarce.

Once the school was operational, challenges were aplenty, but gaining the trust of parents, especially without an affiliation, was particularly tough. But Santosh took the initiative to understand parents’ expectations and consistently delivered results. “We kept parents informed with weekly meetings and daily updates about homework, attendance, absenteeism, and punctuality,” he explains. “If there were any behavioral issues, I even visited the student’s home to discuss the issue with both the parents and the student,” Santosh adds.

He further stressed the importance of parents in a child’s education, saying, “We even arrange fun activities and contests specifically for mothers. I’m convinced that happy parents are the secret to a successful school.”

Today, even without its own building, the school has proudly grown to have 1237 students.”

Pillar of support

Santosh takes great pride in the experienced teachers at his school. He respects their hardwork and dedication, considering them the backbone of the institution. “Our teachers conduct various activities to engage more students and share them on the school’s YouTube channel. They also encourage students to participate in extracurricular activities, which helps in their overall growth. Santosh remarks, “We believe in holistic development.”

Sarthak English Medium School is gearing up to introduce coding classes next year, equipping students with a valuable new skill. “We’re thrilled to offer this opportunity,” says Santosh.

Also Read: How an Inspirational School Leader Achieved Educational Excellence in Dehradun

COVID and initial challenges

The school’s ability to smoothly shift to online classes during the pandemic, maintaining an 85% attendance rate, and using WhatsApp for supervision is truly impressive. Santosh assures, “Keeping communication open with parents through online meetings ensured real learning during this challenging time.” Unfortunately, the school encountered financial difficulties due to low cash flow, even while fulfilling its commitments. After reopening, some regular students struggled with online classes. To address this, Santosh created separate divisions and introduced basic and remedial classes for those fallen behind.

“Our teachers used tools like Essence and customized software to engage both students and parents. They also adjusted their teaching methods to align with individual student learning preferences,” Santosh notes.

“Even without a playground, our school creatively uses its terraces for physical activities and indoor sports like karate, chess, carrom, and Taekwondo. This ensures students remain active and engaged,” he explains, highlighting the school’s innovative approach to quality education.

Relationship with Varthana

As a school administrator, Santosh faced financial challenges during the school’s expansion. However, with Varthana’s help, the school successfully secured funds to purchase land. He states, “Starting from scratch without financial backing made acquiring land difficult. Thankfully, Varthana stepped in with the necessary funds, enabling us to plan the school’s move to its new location.”

Vision for the school

Santosh envisions a spacious, well-ventilated school building customized to students’ needs. Despite the absence of a playground, he emphasizes the importance of ample sports activities. He aspires to transform his school into an Olympiad preparation hub, beginning in the 8th grade. Recognizing the high costs of these courses, Santosh is determined to make them accessible and affordable for every student. He passionately affirms, their motto is to “ensure the development, progress, and success of every student.”

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