It didn’t expect, just inspired and motivated me to raise my own bar

Sushma Gusain
With Head Start from 2006 to 2018
Currently at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Thinking of Head Start brings such pleasant memories. It was just a few years ago when I had joined Head Start. It was completing 25 years, and we were working on creating a magazine for distribution amongst parents, and a film. Time has passed really quickly. Head Start is reaching another milestone, completing 35 years.

For me, Head Start was more than just a place to come to work. It started with a need for a good school for my daughter who was turning 2 years old and I couldn’t think of a better place than Head Start for her. We got extremely lucky because not only did she secure a place but I got placed too. I was admitted into the Primary Programme and that is where I truly learnt the meaning of a good education. It inspired me to be better than what I was; it didn’t expect, just inspired and motivated me to raise my own bar. This is the same environment that I saw children walking into every day and I thought to myself what a wonderful world!

Looking back at my own schooling and thinking as a child, I would have loved to be in such a school where children are nurtured, loved and cared for. The History page on the school website has a few words penned by Aunty Samina. The place she envisioned is what Head Start Montessori House is--a happy place for children and adults likewise, where they can be themselves and not forced into a mould.

With only a corporate background I don’t think any school would have given me an opportunity to work with them. This was not how it was at Head Start; they accepted me with whatever skills I had.  Somehow the pieces of the puzzle all came together and I blossomed and grew with the children, and like an eager child, I too waited to come to school to work in a warm and welcoming environment every morning.

As my daughter’s speaking skills improved she told her friends her mother was in school and they would wonder why I (her mother) was still in school! I am sure they must have laughed at the thought of it. It brings a smile to my face too; imagine a 35-year-old with 4 or 5-year-olds in the classroom trying to understand how fractions work. Only I knew I wanted to be there to learn more and never grow up.

Time went by and I got more and more invested in the school’s philosophy and principles to a point where I looked for opportunities to develop skills that I felt the school required. I was allowed to do a bridge course in the Primary Programme, the curriculum was developed in-house, and gave an idea of how the child is the focus of a Montessori environment. All my questions pertaining to the vertical age group, why the child was given the freedom to choose an activity, the importance of emotional and psychological development in children, were answered. Under the tutelage of Aunty Samina, I learned whatever I know about education and children. Her dedication to the school and the wellbeing of children is awe-inspiring and that is what makes Head Start different from other schools. During my tenure, I saw a lot of changes and growth in the school but one thing remained constant – the vision of a happy place for children.

Posted in From Our Parents, Reflections.