Abi’s story – How the school has had an amazing impact in her life!
I had the pleasure to meet Abilesha Murthy one year and a half ago when I moved to Ahmedabad to teach at The Riverside School. At that moment she was at Grade 12, studying hard and doing her best to achieve her goals. After having the opportunity to share with her multiple great moments, I was able to confirm once more how impactful a school can be in a person’s life. Do you want to know a little bit more of her experience? Here we go! :)
If someone would ask you what does Riverside mean for you, what would you say?
Riverside for me is a community. It taught me the values and morals that I uphold today, it acted as a safety net and to some extent it still is, because Riverside gave me the confidence to pursue endeavours that might be considered unusual or unconventional. Moreover, most of the friends I have today are the ones I made during school. My classmates, the students in the school, the teachers, interns, exchange programme students. Riverside gave me such an open platform to create this community, to build relationships and surround myself with and get inspired by people who are genuine, disciplined and intellectually curious.
Could you tell us an “aha!” moment you lived at Riverside?
One of my favourite “aha!” moment was when the entire school, including my teachers, the principle and a whole bunch of students came to watch the girls football team compete in the tournament. It was a great experience because I have never felt such a sense of community before!
I was part of the football team and seeing the people from my school on the football ground cheering for us was a huge motivation. It did not put pressure on our team since we knew that they would be cheering for us even if we lost. There was a massive sense of community since everyone was dressed in green, the color of our jersey and they were chanting for every member of the team, clicking pictures, and hanging out before and after the game.
I heard from people that this was also a bonding platform for those who came to cheer because they interacted with students from different grades and teachers from different key stages on a very informal level, which was great because the environment was one of celebration!
How are the teachers there?
The teachers in Riverside invest their time and energy in their students and I believe that they genuinely look out for their students. They want each of them to do well and they are willing to spend all the time and energy that they can afford to spend to make that happen.
After moving to college and meeting new teachers, I can see the stark difference between the teachers who want to see you grow because they want you to become better and the ones who want you to grow because it reflects on their teaching.
The teachers of Riverside are the former kind and that kind of teaching is reflected in the kind of people that the students become. This kind of teaching is what gives rise to the conversations that happen outside classrooms about personal issues or general advice. This kind of teaching is what helps in the holistic development of the students. The teachers in Riverside are flexible. They are open to making changes to the time table or even in their personal schedule and go out of their ways to help the students if he/she really needs it. There have been numerous moments when a teacher has asked the students to come to school on a Saturday or a Sunday if we had doubts that we needed to clear. Students who needed extra help with a particular subject could come a little early to school or stay later to sit with the teacher and get more clarity on the concepts. There is a lot of openness and comfort between the students and teachers which make this possible.
Which skills/abilities/competencies have you learnt at Riverside that have been useful for your experience at university and have helped you to achieve your goals?
Riverside has helped me massively in ways that I do not recognize. The kind of discussions we had during out congloms, the debates we had every week, the issues we used to talk about during English class, all of them have shown us how to think keeping in mind different perspectives. However the most important thing that Riverside has taught me is how it is important to have an informed opinion. No matter which career path you choose and where you end up, one needs to be opinionated.
Confidence: Riverside has enormously contributed to my confidence. The reason is because I was given a lot of exposure to different cultures, different ways of thinking and creative methods of problem solving. I felt more informed when I went to college.
Reasoning: Riverside valued creativity but it also gave a lot of importance to logic and reasoning. Everything we did had a reason far beyond “Ma’am asked me to do it”. This is so crucial when you are doing work in the real world because if you know what you are doing and why you are doing it, no one can question you! Knowing your rationale in and out helps you become clearer about what exactly you want to achieve out of a particular task, project or endeavour and therefore keeps you on track and focused on the goal.
Collaboration: Team work is one of the skills that is the most exercised. For almost every assignment in or outside class, we are supposed to work for 2 or more people. Riverside has made me feel more comfortable interacting with people I have never met before since we needed to do this so often when I was studying there. Riverside gave us the opportunity to meet people from around the world, show them around the city and help them feel welcomed. Moreover, many assignments and activities that we did in school also required us to work in groups. Hence it made it so much easier to take the lead when we are working in groups for our college assignments.
Leadership: A lot of processes of Riverside helped us exercise the muscle of leadership. Learning hub, buddy interaction, sports day, persistence are some of the examples of these processes. All these practices are given as much importance as academics. These practices encourage students to be proactive and take initiative. Each student has the opportunity to take charge regardless of whether he/she is named the ‘Captain’ or ‘leader’. These processes have helped each student discover a leader in him or herself. Because of such processes, I naturally tend to start leading whenever I am put in a group. I have observed that this is the case with most Riverside graduates.
Respect, gratitude and empathy: Riverside stressed a lot on respect and gratitude and tried to induce these 2 extremely important values in the students. Riverside has taught me to have respect for the resources, people and opportunities. This has therefore helped me embrace opportunities with both my hands and make the most of it. It has also helped me make friends with not only students but also teachers. Having respect and gratitude for things prevents you from taking anything for granted and the result of this is that you do not do half-hearted work and instead put in your full effort.
During your 16 years at Riverside, in which projects and initiatives have you participated that have empowered your creativity and problem solving capacity?
Almost all initiatives that I have participated in have empowered my creativity and problem solving capacity to some extent. However these are the ones that I believe impacted me the most in terms of expanding my creative mind and problem solving capacity: Learning hub, Business challenges, Sports Day, Bright Minds Shine and the Mastery projects.
How different is Riverside from other schools that you have had the chance to know? And from university?
I have been in only one school hence I have not experienced any another way of education for a long time. However, I have visited several schools and attended classes there as part of our exchange programme and have noticed a stark difference between those schools and Riverside.
Firstly, the number of students and the teacher student ratio: Having a small class benefits a student massively. Students are given more attention since there is a higher teacher student ratio. It makes students more comfortable to seek help or ask question. It also encourages discussions in class and makes it easier for the teachers to moderate it. Moreover, the students and teachers in Riverside share a more comfortable, informal and open relationship. Teachers in Riverside are concerned with the development of their students as human beings rather than just about their grades.
I would also like to point out that the curriculum is based not only on academics but also focuses on how students can become better people and better citizen leaders.
Finally, Riverside involves parents and families more than any other school or university I have come across. They do it through teaching as learning, workshops for parents, all the events where the families are invited and so generously welcomed. This is the best part about Riverside.
What is the most valuable thing do you think Riverside has?
The most valuable thing that Riverside has is the teacher student relationship. I think this is what most of the students and teachers in Riverside would say too – I think it is a popular answer :) .
Some people think that it is not possible to design and implement so many different projects with the students and obtain excellent academic results at the same time. What do you think about this?
One of the things that Riverside has taught me is time management and balance. I often found myself buried in To-do lists and tons of work to do. It consisted of revising particular chapters, applying for college and also preparing for Saturday classes that I had to take as part of our persistence programme. As much as I loved doing everything on that list, I did find myself getting stressed out at moments because of the ton of work I had to do. This therefore pushed me to gain this important skill called ‘time management’. This skill was also developed through other process such as business challenges or citizenship programmes. Since I was able to manage my time well, it was not very difficult to invest time in things other than academics. It was therefore possible to do good while doing well. If students are able to learn how to balance their time, it will be possible for them to obtain excellent academic results as well do well in their projects.
In addition, a lot of projects that we do in Riverside, such as the Mastery project or business challenges and Science days/Math fair, help us in our academic performance. ‘Hands on learning’ has proved to be one of the best ways of learning and comprehension and these projects are exactly that. The projects require us to apply our learning from textbooks to problem solve. This consequently helps us gain a greater understanding of concepts as well as do well in the academic front.
Thank you very, very much! :)