Beyond The Walls Where Dreams Breathe: Meet Poonam Yadav
Mrs. Poonam Yadav is an inspiration for thousands of teachers in our country and continues to work hard for the betterment of government school students.
Late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam once said, ”teaching is a very noble profession that shapes character, caliber, and future of an individual. If people remember me as a good teacher, that will be the biggest honour of my life.”
Poonam Yadav lives her life on these words of Dr Kalam. She is the principal of Plus Two LNLN Project Girls High School, Triveniganj, Bihar which is located in the rural town of Supaul on the Indo-Nepal border. She holds teaching experience of more than 25 years and has transformed the lives of many government school students. Her school today is one of the best science learning centres for young students in India and has nurtured young minds to do creative scientific innovations like sensor-based security systems, voice-controlled smartphones, and lights, automatic flood warning systems, etc amongst many. An amazing teacher, a compassionate guide, and a dedicated mentor Mrs. Yadav, today has become a ‘torch bearer’ of education who inspires us to overcome the ordinary and become exceptional.
Do watch our interaction with Mrs Poonam Yadav here
The Dawn of a thousand dreams
Mrs. Poonam Yadav was born in the small village of Behea in Bihar. Her father is a retired central government employee, and hence she traveled across the country during her education years and got wide academic exposure along with an opportunity to get mentored by teachers from across the country. As a young girl, she idolized her teachers and had decided that one day, she too, will become a teacher. Mrs. Yadav says that her father played a pivotal role in her journey of realizing her dreams and pushed her to do better. In 1995, after finally completing her B.ed degree she joined Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Latehar, Palamu, Jharkhand [ earlier part of Bihar] as an English teacher and marked the beginning of her journey. She says that even today after 25 years of teaching, she feels the same enthusiasm every morning that she felt on the 1st day of her job. Others may see school as a workplace but for her, being surrounded by children feels like home. Her school is her ‘humble abode’.
Breaking The Monotony
‘Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas’ (JNVs) is a system of central schools for talented students predominantly from rural areas in India. They are fully residential and co-educational CBSE government schools with classes from VI to XII standard. JNVs are specifically tasked with finding talented children in rural areas of India and providing them with an education equivalent to the best residential school system, without regard to their families’ socio-economic condition. Most of the children who attend these schools are often from very humble backgrounds and attend local government schools affiliated with the state government for their primary education.
When Mrs. Yadav joined the school as an English teacher she noticed that these academically bright children faced a lot of difficulty in studying English. Her first challenge was to ensure that these children should get comfortable with a language they considered difficult to learn. She adopted creative teaching techniques beyond the classroom. She turned leisure time into a fun learning session so that the student engage themselves in some productive work while being creative. The school is fully residential hence Mrs. Yadav had the privilege to spend a lot of time with students. She encouraged them to watch English channels on television, read English newspapers and stories and adopt English as a language for everyday communication. Her students did not disappoint her and brought laurels in the subject.
She spent two successful years at JNV Palamau and then was transferred to JNV Begurasai where she gave 15 years of service. One of her major challenges during those days was to encourage children, especially girls who were apprehensive about staying in a hostel far away from their home, and learning a language they found difficult to use. Mrs. Yadav would encourage girls by giving examples of notable alumni of the school like Hima Das [Indian spinster from Assam] and others who achieved laurels. As a teacher, she was loved by her students and respected by her peers for her great endeavours and dedication towards teaching.
A ‘Regret’ That Gave Birth To A ‘Goal’
Mrs. Yadav loves being surrounded by children and is very passionate about nurturing their potential and mentoring them towards success. For about 15 years of her life, she taught in the same institution and nurtured young minds towards success, though she was not completely satisfied. As a teacher, she felt their restrictions on her creativity to engage her students in various activities. She wanted to remove these barriers and utilize her skills to the fullest. She says when she would visit her native village in the Koshi region, she would get upset via noticing the condition of female education in the rural village. She wanted to work towards this goal of providing quality education to girls and give back to her community.
She decided to quit her job as a teacher and appear for the Bihar Public Service Commission exam to join a government school as a principal. She succeeded in her attempt and became principal of Plus Two LNLN Project Girls High School, Triveniganj, Saupaul, Bihar in 2014 and continues to work there.
Turning Obstacles Into Opportunities
When in 2014, Mrs. Yadav joined the school as principal, the school faced major issues like lack of attendance, and enrollment as well as lack of quality education. The school is located in a rural town where farming remains the primary occupation of most of the families. During harvesting and sowing season school faced a severe lack of attendance as families encouraged their daughters to work in fields instead of going to school. Mrs. Yadav decided to solve this issue by persuading parents as well as students to take education seriously and to consider it as their first and most urgent priority. She also relied on government schemes. With the support of schemes, she provided girls with cycles to travel to school, as well as a school uniform to promote equality and discipline.
Her efforts paid off well as enrollment in 9th std almost doubled in 2014 to 600 students against 323 in 2014 when she joined the school. The number has just increased constantly over the years. She took other necessary steps like inculcating discipline among students as well as teachers and strictly following the timetable. Her school progressed well and gained a good reputation in the district within a short period. Despite being the principal whose job is the administration of the school, Mrs. Yadav did not quit teaching. She encouraged students to write essays, stories, and articles in English on various topics and submit them to her. She would correct them during her free time and would personally appreciate the students. She encouraged and motivated them to excel in the field of academics.
In 2016, the government of India launched Atal Innovation Project to promote the culture of innovation among the government schools across the country. Under this project, the government called for bids from various government schools to set up Atal Tinkering Labs [ATL] in their school. These labs are set up to foster curiosity and innovation in young minds, between grade 6th to 12th across the country through 21st-century tools and technologies such as the Internet of Things, 3D printing, rapid prototyping tools, robotics, miniaturized electronics, do-it-yourself kits, and many more. When Mrs. Yadav heard about this project she was instantly convinced and wanted to bid for her school.
She believed that ATL was a great initiative to stimulate a problem-solving innovative mindset within the children. Her efforts were successful as in August of 2017 ATL was set up in her school with all the modern types of equipment. When students saw the lab for the first time they were curious and excited about the new learning opportunity. Mrs. Yadav ensured to utilize the lab to its fullest to promote learning among students. Even today on every Saturday all the teachers of the school along with Mrs. Yadav stay overtime and spend two to three hours in the lab to find new ways to utilize its equipment and to inculcate the culture of creativity and innovation in students.
The X Factor
This lab came as the biggest bane for the school as students achieved heights of success in the field of science. Girls of this government school under the guidance of their teachers today have done successful innovations like a smart dustbin and smart ID cards, a Sensor-based Security System(Arduino Programming), a flood warning system, a voice-controlled smart fan, and blubs, etc amongst many. Two students (Astha and Sneha) also got selected in the 48th State Level Science, Mathematics, and Environment Exhibition organized by State Education and Research Council, Patna. The project of class ninth student Astha Kejriwal got the first prize in its state-level sub-subject for national science exhibition, on the occasion of national science day students of the school were honored by Minister of Science and Technology Mr. Sumit Kumar Singh at Constellation, Patna.
Amidst the pandemic in 2021 overcoming all the challenges Misa Anand became the topper of the district by scoring 92 % in the Intermediate Examination in the field of science and brought laurels to the school. The two models prepared by the four students of this school also got selected for the national science congress 2020-21, and the list is never-ending. Today this government school has left behind big private schools in our country in the field of scientific learning. Students of this school today are so well versed in the field of science that they often get invited to engineering colleges in the region to give speeches. It is well said that irrespective of circumstances success comes to those who work hard to achieve it.
A ‘Present’ Promising A Great ‘Future’
At present, Mrs.Yadav takes a lot of pride in her students. The young girls of her school today have knowledge equivalent, if not more than engineering graduates, and are bringing laurels to their families. When asked about how she managed to transform this ordinary government school into a scientific learning center she said ” I believe we should always be self-motivated and also motivate others. If we manifest positive things, good will happen to us. No matter what the circumstance is one must never feel defeated and keep working hard towards the goal.”
Mrs. Poonam Yadav is an inspiration for thousands of teachers in our country and continues to work hard for the betterment of government school students. The entire team of sarkarischool.in salutes her contribution in making the future leaders of our country. ‘Sarkari sabse Asarkari!!’
(With Khushi Patel for Project Gudiya)
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Ritesh Kumar - May 2, 2021
मेरी गुरु माता के चरणों मे सादर प्रणाम अर्पित करता हु। मैं बहुत भाग्यशाली था कि इनसे पढ़ने का मौका मिला। इनकी सबसे अच्छी बात ये है कि एक गुरु के रूप में माँ जैसा व्यवहार होता है। फिर इसके आगे कुछ बोलने की जरूरत नही है। माँ को पुनः एक बार सदर प्रणाम।
JNV BEGUSARAI का छात्र रहा हु।
2008 Pass Out.