Two Heads, One Mind: Meet Inspiring Mother-Daughter Usha Singh and Shipra Ravi Bhardwaj
“Two are always better than one if two act as one” An Inspiring Story of powerhouse mother-daughter duo Mrs. Usha Singh and her daughter Mrs. Shipra Ravi Bhardwaj.
“A true change can only be attained by consistent hard work.” Believing in these thoughts, Mrs. Usha Singh went house to house to convince the parents to get their children admitted to the government school. She, along with her daughter, Shipra Ravi Bhardwaj, also a Govt School Teacher, extended a hand of support toward those children who otherwise felt lost. She was determined to improve the lives of children by educating them, and that’s why she didn’t give up even when she was denied by the parents. Instead, she kept trying until the parents were ready to hear her out.
An embodiment of Zeal and passion
Mrs. Usha Singh was married at quite an early age. She had only completed her higher secondary education at that time. After marriage, her family became her priority. As her husband was transferred to Jaunpur, she came along with him. In Jaunpur, she was always left with a lot of time to spare on her hands. She never appreciated the idea of wasting time over idle gossip and thus she asked her husband to find her a job. Her husband encouraged her to study further. She was already an ardent learner and thus she pursued several courses like B.A, M.A for 1 year, B.Ed, M.A in Hindi, M.Ed, and P.Hd, all this while looking after her four kids. The vacancy for a government teacher came in 2004, and in 2006 she was first posted, but the school was very far from her house and thus only after a few months she decided to apply for a transfer.
In 2006, she was posted in Sirkoni, as an assistant teacher, she served there for 9 years. 2013 came as a very difficult year for her family, her husband passed away due to cancer. She became the head and only earning member of her family. Her family went through financial crises, but she stood strong like a pillar and refused to let the situation win. She continued to fight amidst all the hardships surrounding her life. In 2015 the dark clouds surrounding her life started to disappear and there was a ray of hope. She got promoted to an interior school in Sirkoni itself but this time as a headmaster. In her 1 year tenure as a headmaster, she was surrounded by words of approbation because of her laudable work ethic.
On 1 August 2016, she came to Chakatali as the headmaster. The first thing she noticed there was that the school was in a grim condition, and only 70 students were enrolled while only 30 attended the school. To increase the enrollment of students, she went to nearby villages to convince their parents. It was very hard for her to convince them because the people had preconceived prejudice regarding government schools and government teachers. She knew that it was an arduous task to change the mentality of people but she was fearless and adamant to do so. She visited their house 3-4 times, to convince them. As a result, people thought to at least give her a chance, and there was an increase in the number of admissions. She knew she could bring the change, all she was looking for was an opportunity, which when provided, she did wonders.
Two heads one mind, different and one of a kind
Mrs. Shipra Ravi Bhardwaj is the daughter of Mrs. Usha Singh. She is as versatile as her mother. She completed her higher secondary education from Rizvi Learners Academy Jaunpur. After pursuing her graduation in B.Tech from Bhabha Institute of Technology Kanpur, she went for a private job in Mumbai. Her family convinced her to fill the form of B.T.C. after the dreadful tragedy of her father passing away, she came back to Jaunpur. Her mother was the only earning member of her family and was left all alone. so she had to come back to be her support system.
After completion of her B.T.C in 2015, she got her first posting in 2016. The condition of the school in which she was posted was terrible. The lack of toilets and proper sanitation was horrifying. The students had to go out in the open which didn’t quite help the situation. She had all these questions in her mind but no answers. So she, along with the children cleaned the toilets and made them usable.
Shipra noticed that the students used the local language to speak, they came without wearing slippers, and the uniform they wore was either not proper or was not clean. So the very first thing she did was to make the use of Hindi in conversation mandatory. She explained to them that wearing slippers was important, and also asked them to wear washed and clean uniforms. As a result, students started coming to school in proper uniforms. To improve their English she used a tricky method, on every Saturday she organized an English antakshari competition. The outcome of this exercise was that students started taking interest and carried along with a dictionary. Their enthusiasm deeply moved her and she knew she was on the right path. She started teaching them English by using normal words like what they ate, their parents’ profession, name of body parts, name of spices, etc. This helped in improving the English of students as well as their confidence.
When she came to Chakatali, where her mother was the headmaster, approximately 30 students came along with her from her old school. The mother-daughter duo started working together for the betterment of children. To improve the learning experience of students she decided to take the aid of technology. She showed them videos on youtube so that they can learn by seeing them. She paid great attention to improving the creativity of children. During the lockdown, she connected with the students on WhatsApp and created many videos to make sure that their learning never stops. She always tries to come up with something new, that helps in the growth of students.
Two flints create a fire
There is a famous line by Hellen Keller, “Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much.” The mother-daughter team shared the same beliefs. They were like Juno’s swans, their combined efforts gave meritorious results.
In Mrs. Shipra Ravi Bhardwaj’s previous school, a lot of her hard work was either not appreciated or her headmaster didn’t allow her to work as she wanted. But When she started working with her mother, her ideas were not only appreciated but they tried their best to implement them. This was not because Mrs. Usha Singh was her mother, but because they both were equally passionate about their work, their only aim was to improve the learning experience of their students. Shipra gave ideas, and Usha implemented them with honesty and dedication. They were always in synchronization.
Their ideas and beliefs never clashed because they believed in the same thing. They were each other’s reservoir of support and strength.
The Fruitful Outcome
Working together they achieved a plethora of awards. Mrs. Usha Singh never liked children sitting on the mat, while teachers sitting on the chairs. They thought to provide children with a desk and bench, for this they needed the help of villagers. When she presented her idea to them, they happily agreed to help her. They also arranged a projector, so that children could learn things via technology. They instilled responsibility in students by making them in charge of things like bulletin board decorations.
They also organized Meena-Manch, for students to come forward and share their story if they were abused, as a practice to create awareness. They empowered students to take action against such misconduct. So they were not just textbook teachers but had become so much more for these children. People of the village were so impressed by their work and their passion to educate that they used to respect them a lot, they were always praised by the people for the development they brought in school and their children.
The story of this mother-daughter duo is truly inspiring and Sarkarischool. in salutes them for their commendable passion.
(With Simran Chimaniya)
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