JavaScript Menu, DHTML Menu Powered By Milonic
Go to Home Page
Go to Home Page
Radio Sai Home Page
link_icon
spacer


Canada’s Crown Jewel

...The Sathya Sai School in Toronto


“I am an eleven year old girl. And I am learning about the world around me, and yes, inside of me too. Every morning I look forward to coming to school as there is a warm environment welcoming me. It was like that on my first day of school and seven years later, it still is.

My training ground is extraordinary; every wall, ceiling and door is made up of love and sacrifice. I feel it everyday. This is something that can never be recreated. We’re all one big family.

And to tell you the truth, this school is my motivation, because it fuels me to only do what I know is right. Here, I am taught to respect everyone, because each of us is special and unique and no one can ever change that. I have learnt to be understanding of the differences around me, and most importantly I am learning to accept who I am. I can say that we are trees that stand strong in the garden of life.

Another wonderful aspect is that here every student, just like me, has a close relationship with their teacher. We have the freedom to express ourselves and feel the love and respect that vibrates in the environment. It is this sublime milieu that has made me achieve so many goals and dreams. I am truly, truly grateful. I know God has created this entire universe for a reason, and we all are on this earth to find our purpose in life.”

- Confessions of a Grade 6 North American student

  Myth or Fact?

  spacer
spacer
spacer    
  spacer
Grade 6 student Prarthana Tirikollur 
spacer

Anyone familiar with the life and challenges of a typical Grade 6 student in a North American school is likely to dismiss the above confession as a myth or a utopian fantasy. Some may define it as a concoction of someone’s wishful thinking; yet others may consider it to be every educator and parent’s dream, and quite understandably so. The realities of a typical 11 year old girl’s school life in North America tend to be a stark contrast to the above confession, and the experience is universal, be it in California or Calgary, Tulsa or Toronto.

The issues more likely to dominate the “tween” scene are peer pressure, stress, low self-esteem, poor body image, weak impulse control, rebelling against parental and teacher authority, excessive TV, internet and cell phone dependency, obsession with clothes, make-up and may even include anorexia, bulimia, and experimentation with substance abuse – a far cry from the wishful reflection above. Yet, there is a very real girl named Prarthana Tirikollur and the utopian scenario painted above is no myth for her. It is indeed a page from her life, her experience and her truth. And yes, she lives in a North American metropolis. It is her reality.

Ontario Wakes Up to Character Education

Given the state of our world, it is not surprising that one of the great conversations of our times has centered on the issue of education, its aim and purpose. Recognizing the poverty and stark disparities around us as symptomatic of the systemic decay in our values, stemming largely from ignorance, greed and insensitivity towards others, policy pundits in North America and elsewhere have been calling lately for the renewal of ethical commitment and deepening of the spiritual sense among all people.

spacer
spacer  
     
spacer
Toronto, capital of Ontario, Canada’s largest province 
spacer  

Shocking incidents such as the recent massacre at Virginia Tech or the Columbine high school killings a couple of years ago in the USA send educators scrambling to the drawing table, seeking solutions for a system that is increasingly failing to deliver. Some of the buzz words emerging as possible solutions from this animated dialogue are “character education” or “values-based learning”, “environmentally sustainable development” and “carbon footprints”.

Recently, Canada’s largest province, Ontario appointed a special task force to oversee the development and implementation of the province’s Character Education program for Ontario’s public schools and to develop appropriate teaching aids and methodologies, a move received warmly by observers and parents. While some see it as the government’s response to the growing problems of indiscipline, bullying, racism and such in Ontario schools, others point to Character Education as the key to making Ontario’s schools relevant to the current reality and its challenges.

 

Values Education – The Need of the Hour

As we strive to progress in a world that has shrunk into a global village with economic interdependence, as well as social and racial osmosis, cultural sensitizing is now the critical driver to harmonize diverse peoples and aspirations and to ensure what emerges is not chaos, but a fragrant potpourri. Business magnets today are waking up to the realization that Character Education makes good business sense in a world where corporate conglomerates are more multicultural than ever before. Political leaders are realizing that a values-based, tolerant, environmentally responsible and transparent work ethic and an equitable work environment are the keys to both, political longevity and long term profitability. Suddenly, being smart is not enough. Good is in, and the term ‘character’ has a ‘cool’ ring to it!

A policy paper entitled “Finding Common Ground” published by the Ontario Ministry of Education, states:

spacer
spacer  
    spacer
spacer
"From sea to sea" - only peace
spacer  

“Quality education includes the education of the heart as well as the head; it includes a focus on the whole person—the cognitive, affective and behavioural domains of learning. It means preparing students to be concerned citizens who have empathy and respect for people within their increasingly diverse communities. It means providing opportunities for students to understand deeply the importance of civic engagement and what it means to be a global citizen in an increasingly interdependent global community. An approach to teaching that is infused with character development is education at its best.”

- Avis Glaze, 2006

- Finding Common Ground, Character Development
in Ontario Schools, K-12

 

For those versed in Sathya Sai Education, the above quote sounds so familiar. For decades now, Baba has emphasized the holistic approach to education that harmonizes the head, the hand and the heart.

True education should make a person compassionate and humane. It should not make him self-centered and narrow-minded. Spontaneous sympathy and regard for all beings should flow from the heart of one who is properly educated. He should be keen to serve society rather than be preoccupied with his own acquisitive aspirations. … A person should strive to use every talent and skill they have, not only for their own benefit, but for the benefit of the whole world. Understand that society is the source of whatever pleasure one derives and whatever wealth one achieves in life. We owe everything to society and should be grateful to society for all that we receive from it. We have to repay this debt by helping at least as many people as we can."

- Sathya Sai Baba

  spacer
spacer
spacer    
  spacer
"Education should confer humility" - Baba
spacer

  The Sai Mission Unfolds…

While the government initiatives aimed at reviving the place of values of acceptance and tolerance in the school systems in North America are still in their infancy, it was way back on November 17, 1999 that Swami approved the founding of the very first school in North America that would specialize exclusively in Character Education. It was to be set up in Toronto, Canada – a school whose motto would sum up the Sri Sathya Sai philosophy of education, namely “the End of Education is Character”. For all the activities in the school, the following advice from Swami has become the eternal guide :

Love as thought is Truth.
Love as action is Right Conduct.
Love as feeling is Peace.
Love as understanding is Non-violence.

While Canadians embarked into the 21 st century with the first Sathya Sai School in North America taking shape in a Toronto suburb, the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values (SSEHV) program had, in fact, already been successfully implemented in Canada and elsewhere in the world for over three decades by then, encouraging millions to live selfless lives, helping, loving and serving anyone in need, inspired by the personal example and teachings of Baba.

spacer
spacer  
    spacer
spacer
Dr. V. P. Singh, Chairman of
the Sathya Sai School Trust 
spacer  

Dr. V. P. Singh, the Central Coordinator of the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Organization in Canada and Chairman of the Sathya Sai School Trust, points out that “SSEHV classes were being conducted across Canada at Sai Centres and in some public schools, many years before the Sathya Sai School of Canada was established in the year 2000. Training of teachers in Education in Human Values (EHV) is continuing, with the aim to bring awareness of the eternal human values into the public school system. School boards and other educational institutes are also being contacted and informed of the SSEHV program. Presently, in Canada there are large numbers of volunteers who are dedicated to serving humanity and propagating Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s message of Human Values.”

"The school is My project" - Baba

Going down the memory lane, Dr. Singh recalls,

“In the year 1999, Swami answered our prayers to start the school in Toronto. He blessed the school and gave specific instructions as to how the school should function. His instructions were clear - the education in the school should be based on the Human Values of Love, Truth, Peace, Right Conduct and Non-violence. The Sathya Sai School is unique as it combines the standard curriculum offered by the provincial school boards along with character building human values education. It teaches the mind and reaches the hearts of the children.”

  spacer
spacer  
spacer  
  spacer
  spacer
Values vibrate in this holy seat of learning in vibrant colours!
spacer  

“I bless you and the project. I am always with you,” Swami had said while approving the setting up of the Sathya Sai School of Canada. He had further added, “Land and building do not make a school. It is the children who make a school... First, start small, and then grow big. Yes, the school is my project. I will protect and bless you...”

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
 
  spacer    
spacer
The multi-faith and multi-ethnic magnificent students  
spacer   spacer
His Presence is always felt 
spacer

  spacer
spacer
spacer    
  spacer
Mr. Dayal Mirchandani, President, Sri Sathya Sai Education Trust of Canada 
spacer

Recalling that blissful morning of November 17, 1999, Mr. Dayal Mirchandani, President of the Sri Sathya Sai Education Trust of Canada, says, “When He called me into the interview room, He said, ‘I am always with you, make this happen and take charge’. He then asked me to open my mouth and with His divine hands, fed me a clove and then granted me padanamaskar.”

With His guaranteed blessings, the school blossomed.

Demonstrating a New Dimension…

It is interesting that Baba chose Canadians, the peacekeepers to the world, the nation with the longest unguarded borders, safe haven for displaced peoples from around the planet’s disturbed areas... “the true north strong and free” as the seat for reviving perennial values that are as old as civilization and as relevant to our lives today as love, fresh air, and life itself.

Founded by a teacher of such unparalleled vision and wisdom, the Sathya Sai School of Canada was inaugurated on September 2, 2000 by Dr. Art-Ong Jumsai, the Director of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Education, Thailand. Within the first six years of its operation, the school attracted much attention from mainstream educators and the media, and recently it once again made national headlines for its perfect score in the province’s standardized examination, making it to the number one spot in terms of academic excellence with 15 other schools in the Greater Toronto Area and 36 others in the entire province of Ontario, out of a total of 2812 public, private and separate schools.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
 
  spacer  
 
spacer
Honourable Bas Balkissoon, MPP and City Councillor Raymond Cho at the school’s inauguration
spacer   spacer
Dr. Art-Ong Jumsai unveils Baba’s picture during opening ceremonies
spacer

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
 
  spacer    
spacer
Mr. Pillay, then the Principal of the school,
hoisting the Canadian flag 
spacer   spacer

Dr. Michael Goldstein with Mme. Myriam Josza and other members of the Canadian Sai organization

spacer

The February 14, 2007 edition of the Scarborough Mirror, a popular Toronto newspaper, ran the following front page story:

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
School makes headline news 
spacer   spacer
Fraser report rates school’s performance at #1 
spacer

Scarborough’s Sathya Sai School has a unique recipe for outstanding achievement. Start with dedication to academic excellence balanced with character education so students of the private, non-denominational school learn the value of civic responsibility. Finally throw in light meditation in the morning and yoga exercises in the afternoon to keep the pupils calm and focused. The blend has resulted in a winning combination for the school on Ellesmere Road, east of Warden Avenue. The English-language co-educational school of 160 students is one of 37 elementary schools to receive top grade in an annual report card released this week by the Fraser Institute.

School Scores Perfect 10 in Academics

The Fraser Institute, the British Columbia based think tank, awarded the top Ontario schools perfect ten score based on Reading, Writing and Math tests administered to Grade 3 and 6 students by the province’s Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO). It meant every single student had met and/or exceeded the expectations of the Ontario curriculum in the province-wide standardization test.

EQAO Results Place Sai School in Top Position

 EQAO is a province-wide standardization test conducted by the province of Ontario to assess students’ levels of proficiency in three areas, namely, Reading, Writing and Math. The Sathya Sai School of Canada, follows the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Academic Curriculum and further enriches it with its own unique Character Education program. They are one of the few private schools in the province who participate in this annual test, held for Grade 3 and Grade 6 students in all public and Catholic elementary schools across the province.

Last June (2006), the third batch of Grade 3 students appeared in this test and once again Sathya Sai students performed way above their provincial peers. The students’ most recent performance versus the Ontario average in Grade 3 goes like this:

Grade 3
Sathya Sai School
Ontario Average
Reading
95
62
Writing
100
64
Math
100
68

Furthermore, being a young school, in 2006, their very first batch of Grade 6 students participated in EQAO for Grade 6 students and the results speak for themselves:

Grade 6
Sathya Sai School
Ontario Average
Reading
100
64
Writing
100
61
Math
100
61

The results indicate the percentage of students who have achieved or exceeded provincial expectations in all three areas.

In light of the exceptional academic performance of the Sathya Sai School students, the Fraser Institute placed the school in the number one position in all of Ontario.

Academic Success Only Part of the Equation

With this superior rating, the Sathya Sai School has emerged as a key player in the field of academic excellence on the Canadian national scene. Yet, its academic success is only a part of the many laurels the school has won in its young life of a mere six years, and this ranking comes as no surprise to those who are familiar with the vision and mission of this unique school.

  spacer
spacer
spacer  
 
  spacer
School’s Founding Principal, Mr. T.R. Pillay 
spacer

Founding Principal of the School, Mr. T.R. Pillay, believes the report validates not only the excellent work of the teachers, and the calibre of the students, but also the school's mission to balance character education with academic excellence.

“This high ranking of the school is reassuring, and further proof that the Sathya Sai ideals of education and its unique school climate bring out the best in the children. I am convinced that if our students were tested on moral issues and ethical values, they would shine with equal brilliance.”

To read more of Mr T R Pillay's reflections, Click here.

If the school has become a resounding success story today, it is largely because of the highly trained and dedicated educators who serve the Sathya Sai School of Canada with unparalleled levels of commitment and sacrifice, drawing their inspiration directly from the personal example of Baba, who is not only the Founder but also the soul and the life-force of the school.

Mrs. Koushi Premachandran, who has been teaching Kindergarteners since the school’s inception, explaining her program’s phenomenal results, says,

“I always seek God’s input and guidance to make the most of my time with my students. In the year 2002, while viewing the exhibition on the five elements at the Chaitanya Jyothi museum in Prashanthi Nilayam, I had an epiphany that made me revisit my teaching strategies and methodology.

spacer
spacer  
    spacer
spacer
Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Koushi Premachandran with her little scholars 
spacer  

Upon my return, I rearranged the entire Ontario Curriculum for Kindergarten to align with the five elements, the five senses and the five values to better facilitate the children’s understanding of the interconnectivity of all life. I redesigned all my long range plans, ensuring all aspects of the curriculum were covered but the units were layered in sync with the rhythm of the creation of our universe. The net result was that not only did we successfully meet all the Kindergarten expectations, but exceeded them beyond the wildest imagination of my fellow teachers and school parents. Since then, each year, every single graduate of my Kindergarten program exceeds the curriculum expectations in Reading, Math, Science and Writing. Several of them have reading skills comparable to Grade 2 level Ontario curriculum expectations!

The Supreme Teacher, beloved Baba is responsible for this achievement for had it not been for His wisdom, we would never have known that a simple reordering of the topics will exponentially enhance students’ learning ability.”

 

  spacer
spacer
spacer  
 
  spacer
Grade 2 teacher Mrs. Aditi Jain 
spacer

For Grade 2 teacher Mrs. Aditi Jain, every day at the school holds a surprise. She says:

“As we go through our daily lesson plans, there is that special moment, when a student does, says or asks something so precious and priceless that it jolts me out of my complacency, making me wonder if such a profound eureka moment would ever have been possible in a school system without character education? That one spark of divine radiance that flashes from deep within a child illuminates the atmosphere in the classroom, charging us all with renewed energy…

“This rare combination of sublimity and wisdom can only arise when a pure mind is plugged into the Universal Intelligence.”

The school's character education program and a values-permeated environment are greatly responsible for the students’ wholesome attitude to learning, keen sense of engagement and service to the community. Swami says, “Education is for life, not merely for earning a living”. Even as a good report card from the Fraser Institute is welcome news, it is only a part of the school’s greater goal, to promote human excellence by balancing academic excellence with character education.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Kindergartners listen attentively 
spacer   spacer
Students pray before snack and lunch time 
spacer
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Group presentations encourage cooperation 
spacer   spacer
Presenting group projects to peers
spacer

Since its inception in September 2000, the Sathya Sai School has been a pioneer in integrating values into the core academic curriculum. All members of the school’s teaching faculty have outstanding professional qualifications from leading universities in Canada and abroad as well as additional training in integrating the SSEHV program into the academic curriculum throughout the school day. One example of successful integration is the annual Science Fair. It integrates the learning of Science with the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values program while providing a perfect opportunity for family bonding, a practice highly encouraged in the school’s culture.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Presenting Science Fair projects … Kumaran Subendran, Gr. 4
spacer   spacer
Sureka Selvakumaran, Gr. 6 
spacer
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Raajat Gupta, Grade 6 
spacer   spacer

Krupa Mistry, Grade 3 

spacer
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Chinmay Potdar, Grade 2 
spacer   spacer
Darini Hariharan, Grade 2 
spacer
  spacer
spacer  
spacer  
  spacer
  spacer
Grade 3 students celebrate their successes 
spacer  

To know more about the Science Fair, Click here.

  spacer
spacer
spacer  
 
  spacer
Spelling Bee contestant Sudarshan with Mr. Pillay and Grade 5 teacher Miss Tanushree Das
spacer

Grade 5 teacher Miss Tanushree Das says:

“While integrating each strand of the curriculum expectation with values, my students come up with insights that make them realize that nothing stands in isolation. All aspects of our awareness, learning and experience are interconnected. True learning occurs when we unearth this fundamental that all is connected within precious life lessons. A water cycle is nothing but a cycle of karma, or as Swami says: reaction, reflection, and resound.

 “I am blessed to teach 10 year olds in a grade 5 classroom. These students come to me with well defined basic skills of logical thinking and daily classroom behaviour, thanks to my hardworking colleagues in previous grades. Most of them have been in the Sathya Sai School system and are at various stages of articulating their emotional growth and seeking a definitive spiritual path, which has a personal meaning to them. This seeking comes through in their questions which are at once simple and profound, like: “How can I control my mind?” or “Who is the ‘I’ and what exactly is ‘my’?” Their ability to articulate their process of “becoming” gives me an opportunity to break down the discussion to explain such concepts as consciousness and ego.

It is pure joy, the high point for me as an educator to be able to explain the different levels of consciousness and perils of letting our ego take over. I have to know, and practice myself what I am attempting to explain. The profundity of the students’ aspirations forces an inner learning and growth for me. To be effective, I must walk the talk myself. I must be the change I seek in them. I must first practice what I profess, or else the lesson will be lost.”

 

spacer
spacer  
    spacer
spacer
Mr. Greenwood watches over reading buddies Raghav and Sindujeyan
spacer  

According to Michael Greenwood, Grade 6 teacher, “The teaching profession is fundamentally based on spiritual principles.” For him, “Service rendered to the students is service to Swami Himself” and teaching is not a profession, rather, “ a sadhana or a spiritual practice to realize God” which has to be done in utmost purity and sincerity.

It is this enlightened attitude of the teachers which has made this school so special. Looking back at the many trails the school has blazed in the past six years, fundamentally because of its adherence to the five human values, the school’s now retired Founding Principal Mr. T.R. Pillay describes his tenure here as the ultimate high point of his career of over four decades as an educator. He left the school with a treasure trove of priceless memories. He recalls: “I shall remember the student who was asked: What is the difference between a dream and reality? And his reply: ‘They are just different levels of consciousness’.

“I will treasure memories of individual achievements and individual acts of concern for fellow men. One student spelt his way to the Regional Spelling Bee Finals three times and even donated his prize money to the school. Another student showed kindness and caring when he offered his chair to a visitor who had been standing too long in his classroom or to his Principal who had dropped in to watch a class presentation. I shall remember the earnest plea of the student who wanted me to send light and love to her every morning as she was moving to another part of the province; and the student who reminded his mother who was about to punish him: ‘Hands are for helping, not hurting’”, Mr. Pillay reminiscences with pride and nostalgia.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
School choir singing at a community event for victims of Tsunami in South Asia 
spacer   spacer
Spelling Bee champion Arun Thayanithy (school alumnus) with Mr. Greenwood and Mr. Pillay 
spacer
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
UN Team in the school to observe its unique values program and peace initiatives 
spacer   spacer
Students with MPP Hon. Bas Balkissoon during their field trip to the Ontario Provincial Parliament
spacer

Overwhelming Response to the School’s Annual Open House

spacer
spacer  
    spacer
spacer
School Principal Dr. Revathi Chennabathni 
spacer  

According to Principal Dr. Revathi Chennabathni, the school’s 7th annual Open House on April 4, 2007 saw the gym packed with nearly 300 interested families eager to understand the unique vision and mission of the only school in Canada and the USA that offers what may be termed a full-time “Character Immersion” program.

Over 150 applications were received for 20 spots in the Junior Kindergarten program and against any possible vacancies that may arise in other classes (Senior Kindergarten to Grade 6) should any of the existing students leave the school. The school caps class size at 20 students per grade, the optimum number recommended by the Ministry of Education.

With each passing year, the buy-in by potential parents continues to be overwhelming. Despite the many demands that the school’s programs place on them as partners, Canadian families are drawn to the school for various reasons.

  spacer
spacer
spacer  
 
  spacer
Kristian Akimov, Grade 6 
spacer



For Eugene and Inesa Akimov, the parents of Grade 6 student Kristian Akimov, it was the self-confidence of the Sathya Sai School students that struck a chord.

“Our first visit to the school was during the Open House. We were impressed by the students’ ability to express their opinions and thoughts clearly and with confidence…it felt we were speaking to grown up persons.

We also noticed the teachers and students shared a relationship of deep and sincere respect and every student was treated as a unique individual.

“After our son Kristian joined the school, it is a great insight for us as parents to learn and practice the five human values together with our son in our everyday lives.”

 

 

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Students addressing a peace rally 
spacer   spacer
Students MC school’s special assemblies 
spacer

As North American parents, we wanted our children to grow in an environment where the fundamental five human values defined the culture - values that are timeless and can be easily related to regardless of one’s culture, race, faith or religion,” say Shanthi and Bob Balakumar, parents of Alagan, in Junior Kindergarten and Paary, in Grade 1. “After extensive research, the Sathya Sai School emerged as the ideal and only choice for us. We love the atmosphere that engulfs us as we step in through the doors of the school. We appreciate and value the creative teaching methodologies used by the teachers. As well, the partnership and communication between the staff at the school and parents ensures that the children receive care and coaching almost 24/7.”

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Lavanya Sivakumar and Divakshi Rohan, Gr. 2
learn to use a thermometer
spacer   spacer
Exploring Medieval Times - Knights in
shinning armour
spacer
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Reading buddies Praven and Parnika 
spacer   spacer
A group Art activity 
spacer
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Grade 5 students dressed as Latin Dancers - learning to feel one with every culture and creed
spacer   spacer

Drama teacher Miss Chandrakanthan teaching Performing Arts to Grade 3 students 

spacer

For Mullafer Shanawaz and his wife Kaushy, the draw of the school was the universal appeal of the virtues the Sathya Sai model of learning promotes.

“My wife is a Hindu and I am a Muslim. One of our challenges was which religion our daughters would follow and, more importantly, what values they should practice in their daily life. Frequently we tend to forget that all faiths point to the universal values and a life of peace, tolerance and compassion. We wanted to provide our daughters Shivaani and Shaayini the best possible education with proper guidance. Initially, I was skeptical about the Sathya Sai School’s claim of balancing human excellence with character education. I then visited Prashanthi Nilayam personally to check out the claims. The trip was a life-altering experience. Upon return we were determined to seek admission here. Today, this is the best gift we have given our daughters. This is the only school we can relate to. It offers the best character based education that is academically superior too.

“Our girls are more fortunate than us. We didn’t grow up learning these values and broad-mindedness. We were only told what is good and bad and that our religion is superior to all other religions. Today, when both our kids talk to us, we can see their maturity and their respect for everything in the world, from human to animal life and from stones to plants. Amazingly, we are learning more about being good human beings from our children than we are teaching them…my wife and I are both practicing our respective faiths and maintaining our culture without any discrepancy while practicing the five human values as a family - values that are common to both our faiths. We have all grown after our daughters joined the school.”

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Celebrating Canada’s diversity – a special Sankranthi assembly 
spacer   spacer
Celebrating Baisakhi in the school
through unique programmes 
spacer
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Darini Hariharan makes an in-class
presentation on Christmas 
spacer   spacer

Students wear traditional clothes
on special occasions
 

spacer

It is a variety of facets of the school such as daily universal prayers (which are conspicuous by their absence in the public school system where even the term “God” is a taboo) to the school’s loving discipline policy, smart uniform, high academic standard, weekly yoga classes, daily tuning-in time, insistence on healthy and vegetarian food, and so on that has attracted Canadian parents.

Junior Kindergarten student Dante Morris’ mom Michelle Ward admits:

“My interest in the Sathya Sai School of Canada peaked when I discovered this school still believed in saying a school prayer, which I believe, is very important for any child. As I accessed the school website, I was in total awe because it was at this time I realized how much the school had to offer and I right away decided this would be Dante’s school, without even contacting anyone at the school. I was most impressed with the fact that the school started the day with a prayer and even three 3 year olds were taught meditation and silent sitting and basic yoga techniques. To me the school on the whole is one that other schools should do their very best to model after. I feel very proud to say my son Dante attends the Sathya Sai School of Canada and I feel very blessed to have him there.”

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Students pray before writing exams
spacer   spacer
Praying before lunch and snack time
spacer
  spacer
spacer  
spacer  
  spacer
  spacer
Tuning-in time or meditation begins in Junior Kindergarten 
spacer  

Aruna and Mohan Gopal, who have been associated with the school since its inception, recalling how it all began, say,

spacer
spacer  
    spacer
spacer
The happy Mohan Gopal family 
spacer  


“In the spring of the year 2000, we were at the crossroads in terms of where we would be sending our daughter to study for her first year at school…we were keen to provide her with a firm foundation of human values that had to be interwoven into the regular academic curriculum and would permeate the entire school environment. At that very juncture, we attended a presentation on the opening of the Sathya Sai School of Canada…this was indeed an answer to our prayers and could not have come at a more opportune time.

“Over the years, our daughter Kavita Anjana Gopal, currently in Grade 5 at the Sathya Sai School of Canada, has blossomed into a beautiful person, showing a deep understanding of the human values in her words, actions and choices.”



spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Grade 2 students with Mrs. Jain 
spacer   spacer
Kindergartners with their model of a new school
spacer

The School’s Unique Teaching Methodology

What has made this school stand out so splendidly is its distinctive teaching methodology that is modelled on the Sathya Sai system of education. It calls for an integrated approach to learning that nurtures the mind, the body and the spirit. Based on this philosophy of educare, the school’s program aims to draw the infinite intelligence and goodness latent in every individual, using a variety of effective teaching methods. Teachers, here, specialise not in teaching a subject, rather they are experts in using the subject as a means to help the child in his or her own development. The educators principally use five teaching components:

  1. Thought for the Day
  2. Light Meditation
  3. Group Singing & Music
  4. Group Activities
  5. Story Telling

These are used to impart lessons with a variety of adaptive methodologies in two principal ways:

1) The Integral approach

2) The Direct approach

The First Approach – Adding Values to Academics

The first is integration of values within the academic and extra-curricular school activities wherein specially trained teachers incorporate the human values lessons within the learning of traditional subjects such as Math, Science, Language, Social Studies and Physical Education, and also integrate the program into extra-curricular activities like clubs, playground activities, sports and field trips.

  spacer
spacer
spacer  
 
  spacer
Mrs. Ahalya Ganesh, Grade 4 teacher 
spacer

Citing an example of how this is done and what impact it has in the students minds, Mrs. Ahalya Ganesh a Grade 4 teacher, says,

“I remember the day when the officials from the Premier of Ontario’s task force on Character Education came to observe my language lesson in progress and to see how we integrate universal values into Language Arts. A student felt compelled to raise his hand randomly when the ministry officials were asking some questions.

“When asked to speak up, he was bubbling to share with them a profound insight. Out of the blue, he began to explain the dilemma of the ice cube! He felt that the ice cube is all confused, thinking it is different from water. What the ice cube does not know is that it too is made of water. It may look and feel different but it really is not. It is just a little bit of water frozen up. Just like all of us, having come from God, we assume we are different or separate from Him. But in actual we are all made of God. We really are God.

“I will never forget the expression of the government officials to this sudden outburst of wisdom in the middle of a Grade 4 Language lesson! Talk of integration raised to the power of infinity!

“There is a pure love energy that runs this school like an invisible, silent fuel. This energy engulfs everyone into one, uniting us to pursue a higher purpose; functioning and guiding us through our daily decisions. Each day I realize what a special and incredible project I am associated with. The experience is beyond words.”

The Second Approach – Instilling Values the Direct Way

While that is the tremedous impact the integration of values into the curriculum creates, there is also a second and more direct method which the educators use, wherein instructional techniques are used to teach one of the five human values. And the impression this approach leaves on the young minds is no less.

The direct method utilizes all five teaching components through a number of specifically designed lesson plans, to be used directly in the classroom unlike the previous integral method which incorporates the five values into the curriculum and learning environment.

This program is designed not as an attempt to dictate or impose values, but rather to provide the children with a frame of reference which they can use to inform their future decisions and behaviour. The whole endeavour is based on five basic Human Values that are universal and held in the highest esteem in all cultures, faiths and societies, namely Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, Love and Non-Violence. These are nurtured through various methods and approaches. Some examples of practicing values include:

Living Truth in life by practicing:

  • Honesty
  • Quest for Knowledge
  • Dignity
  • Integrity
  • Self-analysis
  • Equality
 

Practicing Right Conduct through:

  • Respect for others
  • Responsibility
  • Discipline
  • Courage
  • Helpfulness
  • Gratitude
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Saying grace before lunch 
spacer   spacer
Bhavik Amin with a special card for Mother’s Day  
spacer
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Grade 1 - Community helpers include officers of the Ontario Provincial Police 
spacer   spacer

Grade 1 - A group of skilled construction workers during a job fair for Community Helpers

spacer


Fostering Peace by developing:

  • Patience and Calmness
  • Perseverance
  • Understanding
  • Healthy Living
  • Contentment
  • Self-respect
 

Nurturing Love in life by:

  • Caring and Sharing
  • Friendship
  • Tolerance
  • Compassion
  • Kindness
  • Generosity
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Playing or working - always together 
spacer   spacer
Grade 1 students as doctors for their Job Fair
spacer
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Field trips to the Toronto City Hall to learn about the workings of the municipal government
spacer   spacer
Boosting self-esteem at Valuentine’s day party – students discuss “what I like about me”
spacer

Imbibing Non-violence in daily life through activities that exhibit:

  • Concern for all Life
  • Selfless Service
  • Global Awareness
  • Forgiveness
  • Citizenship
  • Unity
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Grade 5 students celebrate self-awareness 
spacer   spacer
Gr 2 celebrates International Understanding Day 
spacer
  spacer
spacer  
spacer  
  spacer
  spacer
Sathya Sai School students – face of human values 
spacer  


Other salient features of this approach include universal prayers at the start of each day, the daily tuning-in and reflection time when the students meditate on the light of a candle and discuss the Daily Thought for the Day during the ensuing circle time discussion and weekly yoga classes.

The Third and The Most Potent Approach – Walking The Talk

In spite of the trememdous positive results both the integral and direct approaches have, possibly the most effective way of teaching values is by example. Teachers here are remembered for who they are more than for what they teach. If a teacher is loving and kind, then everything he/she teaches will automatically be full of values. Teaching that the composition of water is H2O is academic knowledge. Teaching the value of water and the proper way to use and conserve it is Sathya Sai Education in Human Values. Both kinds of teaching must be used together to deliver a more balanced education. Once a teacher starts to practice values in his or her life, then thinking of ways to integrate values into the classroom becomes easy. This program, in fact, offers a unique opportunity to both teachers and students. It is an opportunity to grow and develop together.

spacer
spacer  
    spacer
spacer
Gr 1 teacher Miss Seema Poddar enthralls students with Harry Potter 
spacer  

Miss Seema Poddar, a grade 1 teacher who has been actively involved since the school’s planning stages, says:

“Given that as a student I remembered my teachers more than the material they taught me, I realized that if I was to take up the teaching profession, I would like to be a teacher who would leave a positive impression on the lives of my students. I didn’t want to teach subjects, I wanted to teach children. I wanted to be able to create a lasting, supportive relationship with my students. I wanted to give my students a glimpse of the infinite beauty that lies in their hearts, and to inspire them to tap into that inherent potential in order to realize all their dreams…”

She further admits,

“In order to teach the Human Values to my students, I have had to reflect on my own understanding of these values as well as my ability to practice them. Every year, during the period of Lent, leading to Easter, together, my Grade 1 students and I, reflect on the spiritual significance of this Christian tradition. Along with my children, I too search my heart and then give up a favourite indulgence to experience first-hand the spirit of sacrifice and compassion. ”

 

  spacer
spacer
spacer  
 
  spacer
Grade 3 teacher Miss Minoli Chandrakanthan helps Janani Nandakumar 
spacer

Grade 3 teacher Miss Minoli Chandrakanthan realized this right at the outset. She recalls: “ I came to meet the school’s former Principal Mr. T.R. Pillay to learn more about private schools and how they compare with the public schools. When he began to explain what this school was all about, I remember wondering how authentic his tall claims were. In my head I was questioning if any of what he was saying was verifiable. What I was hearing did not tally with any of my experiences during my practicum in the public school system.

“A little while later, as I walked down the hallway, I started to check out some of the students’ work and saw for myself the genuinely high caliber of students and more so of their teachers. Everything they did around this place seemed so high end. As I left the school, I remember feeling a deep sense of admiration and awe for both those who deliver the program and those who seemed to be thriving in it. How I wished I too could be part of this professional environment!

“I realized though that if I was to seek an opportunity to join this team of highly motivated and driven educators, I needed to further augment my professional and spiritual qualifications. At once, I signed up for a course in SSEHV integration for elementary teachers at the British Institute of EHV in Leicester, UK.

“Thanks to its early introduction in Junior Kindergarten, by Grade 3, morning meditation is a pretty intense experience. Many of my students receive clear insights and visions during this quiet tuning-in time, which we share during the circle discussion right after. I believe it is because of such sincere introspection at this early age that the children are able to follow the straight and narrow path.”

We can observe this blossoming of values in Lavanya Sivakumar of Grade 2 who says, “I like to care for and share with my sisters a lot more then I used to. When they are happy, I am happy. I help my mom around the house so she wouldn’t have to do as much work. I really love the teachers in our school because they are very patient with me and help me understand anything I need help with. ”

Kunj and Suresh Mehendiratta, parents of Karn and Sanya, acknowledge this reality: “We are so blessed to have our kids attend the best school where they are loved and taught by the best and highly dedicated teachers, volunteers and other staff members, who put their heart and soul into helping our children get better each day.”

Why The Children Love This School?

The relationship that the students have with this school is something which can rarely be found elsewhere. The impression that it leaves on their hearts and minds in the few formative years of their life is indelible.

  spacer
spacer
     
  spacer
"I miss wearing the school uniform"-Shaumithri Kulendran
spacer

Shaumithri Kulendran belongs to the first batch of Sathya Sai School students who completed Grade 6 and graduated last June (2006). One of the things she misses the most about the Sathya Sai School is the smart uniforms, which are not part of the public school system.

“Uniforms brought out our inherent goodness and alikeness. They don’t let people judge others by their looks or the brand names they wear. Uniforms put us all on the same pedestal. The students can be of any race or religion, they can be rich or maybe not as well-off, but no one really cares about it. No one is worried about each other’s outer appearance or the price tag on their designer clothes, shoes, accessories. We are able to concentrate on inner strengths of every person rather than the superficial and outer identities…I miss wearing the uniform that bears the name of this special school.”

Kirthana Sasitharan is another Sathya Sai School alumna who misses the school.

“Everyone was so cooperative and willing to help. I felt I had over 100 brothers and sisters all of whom loved and cared for me. My teachers gave me so much love and compassion and sat down patiently to explain stuff till I got it. We were like one big family,” she fondly recollects.

 

spacer
spacer  
 
   
spacer
Shrishti Ahuja, Gr. 5 
spacer  

 

Shrishti Ahuja joined the school in Grade 4 in the year 2005. Coming from a public school, Shrishti was overwhelmed by the warm welcome her peers and teachers gave her.

“I will never forget this school. It is like a second home. My favourite part is figuring out that the real purpose of life is… to enjoy it and learn from my mistakes. Can you imagine living a life without knowing why you were born? This school has taught me how to build my character.”

 

  spacer
spacer
spacer    
  spacer
Devanshi Shukla, Gr. 3 
spacer

With three more years to go before she graduates, Grade 3 student Devanshi Shukla already knows what she will miss the most about the school when she leaves it.

“The loving and peaceful atmosphere of our school is my favourite. It always keeps me calm. Daily meditation makes my tensions, worries, anxieties and bad thoughts go away. I like sending light to everyone who is suffering during meditation. It helps me feel one with the entire universe.”

 

Keshan Sritharan of Grade 5 began his seven years at this school in Junior Kindergarten.

“The meditation at the start of each day allows me to begin my morning peacefully, in awareness of the light within me and my connection to the rest of the universe…The most important lesson I have learned is to treat everyone the same way I would like to be treated. I will carry this with me throughout my life.”

“The most valuable life lessons I will take to my new environment are the five human values and their many sub-values. How can I ever forget what my family and I learned from this school?” asks Janani Nandakumar of Grade 3.

 

Innovative Ideas to Instill Values

While the great debate on the need for character education rages among educators and decision makers in North America, for six years now, the Sathya Sai School of Canada has successfully balanced academic excellence and character education, carving a niche for itself as a unique private school. Values are unmistakbly evident in the overall climate of the school, and this is because the school has found innovate ways to instill these timeless principles in the young minds. One such interesting concept is the ‘value under the spotlight for a two month period’.

Under this program, the ten months (September-June) of the school year are divided into 5 segments of 2 months each, to coincide with the five human values that form the foundation of the school’s Character Education Program.

Every two months of the school calendar have a value under focus. During morning announcements, the Grade 2 students who broadcast from the ‘Valueland Radio Station’ read the daily Thought for the Day which is related to the value under spotlight. Following the morning assembly, each class has a tuning-in time where the students and the teacher sit down in a circle and meditate on the light of a candle which they visualize internally and then expand to envelope the universe and all its inhabitants, feeling a sense of oneness with all the beings in all the worlds and praying for universal peace, happiness and harmony.

Following the quiet meditation time, students discuss the day’s Thought for the Day and its application and relevance in their daily lives. Apart from Swami’s precious sayings, quotes are also selected from many great leaders, teachers and thinkers, past and present, such as Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama and even the Berenstain Bears (popular children books with value stories).

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Tuning-in time - students meditate on the light and expand it to envelope the universe
spacer   spacer
All students start the day in the school
with a calm reflection 
spacer

Starting the school day with the first period dedicated to Sathya Sai Education in Human Values sets the tone for focused and calm learning ahead for the rest of the day. While the lessons plans of every teacher from period two onwards conform to the expectations of the Ontario Academic Curriculum, the teachers of the Sathya Sai School of Canada further fine-tune the outcome of their teaching strategies to ensure a values connection.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
The calm start to the day promotes
focus and concentration 
spacer   spacer
...and to build up physical stamina are these excellent opportunities 
spacer

Whether it is a lesson in Math, Language Arts, Physical Education, Social Studies, Science and so on, the teachers plan the lessons, teaching aids, and outcomes from a values lens. In the end, the students are able to make the connection between life experiences and the place of human values in them.

Each school year begins with the spotlight on the value of Right Conduct for the months of September and October. This ties in perfectly with laying out the rules and regulations governing good conduct in the classroom, gym, playground, bus and other areas. Team building, cooperation and respect for peers and teachers during group dynamics are some of the important lessons students imbibe early in the academic year, minimizing time wasted on disciplining and conflict resolution during class time.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Checking the impact of prayers on plant growth 
spacer   spacer
Learning basketball discipline before taking the ball
spacer
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer  
 
spacer
Studying hard
spacer   spacer
Making presentations to class and the school
spacer

November and December are devoted to the value of Peace, connecting well with the theme of peace on earth. During this season, the school community honours the nation’s World War II veterans on Remembrance Day and they joyfully celebrate such festivals as Eid, Diwali, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Representatives from various faith groups are invited to special assemblies organized in this connection. Most guest speakers are impressed by the depth of understanding of their faith and its tenets displayed by the multi-faith student body during the question and answer sessions.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
What would Christmas be without angels? 
spacer   spacer

Learning rangoli on Diwali, the festival of lights 

spacer

January and February spell Love in the Air, expressed in many different ways. Students replace the rampant consumerism associated with Valentine’s day into a valuable learning experience by visiting and singing value songs at two major facilities that are home to the elderly in Toronto. They bring joy and good cheer to the lonely senior citizens turning it into a truly ‘Valuentine’ experience.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Valentine’s Day becomes a Valuentine’s celebration as students serenade the elderly 
spacer   spacer
Vandana Ratnam asks some seniors’ about their well-being on Valuentine’s day 
spacer
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Expressing love and respect to Senior citizens
spacer   spacer
“How are you grand-ma?” enquires Parnika 
spacer

Every year, they also collect over half a tonne of vegetarian, non-perishable food items for the Food Bank used by the needy residents of the city of Toronto. The youngest scholars, the little kindergartners, take over the Christmas tree every January and February and transform it into a mitten tree, decorating it with mittens and warm accessories for the homeless.

The Mitten Tree – Mighty in Love

 

 

Despite the freezing, arctic weather conditions, there is but one tree, a truly special one that blooms every February in the heart of Toronto, its branches laden heavy with a bumper crop of love. The Kindergarten-led initiative of the mitten tree has become a proud tradition of the Sathya Sai School of Canada. Typically, every year, when school reopens in January, the school’s Christmas tree sheds all its shiny trimmings and reincarnates as the mitten tree. Kindergartners then begin their annual campaign of making a small personal sacrifice, such as foregoing a chocolate bar or a similar treat to buy a pair of warm mittens, gloves, scarf or a hat for their homeless sisters and brothers in the city of Toronto. These tokens of love are then hung on the mitten tree in place of the Christmas decorations.

Inspired by the leadership and compassion demonstrated by the youngest of our students, children from all other grades, namely Grade 1 to Grade 6, join in enthusiastically to augment their efforts by bringing in warm accessories for those who are left to brave the severe elements without proper winter gear. By the time Valentine’s month approaches, the mitten tree is laden and drooping with tokens of students’ heart-felt love and sacrifice. These are then packaged in specially decorated boxes that the kindergartners prepare as a part of their Art curriculum. Covered with pink hearts and loving quotes from Swami who inspires them to feel kinship with all creation, the Kindergartners prepare these gift hampers which are then delivered to shelters for the homeless in the city.

The heart-shaped cards carry loving messages such as “With extra love to keep you warm.”

In the current year (2007), for instance, a total of 254 pairs of woollen accessories were collected which included a high quality jacket, loads of mittens, scarves and hats and even sweaters.

March and April usher hope, renewal and spring, making Non-violence the ideal value of the season. Students participate in observing Lent, Easter and Earth day by cleansing their hearts, minds and their environment. The entire school community participates in the Mayor of Toronto’s call for a 20 minute make-over every year in April to clean up the elegant city by stepping out and picking litter in open spaces around the school and in public parks.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
         
spacer
Students participate in Earth Day by giving
Mother Earth a spring make-over 
spacer   spacer
It's joy and happiness as they pick litter
in schools and public parks
spacer


Lent, Maths and Human Values

For weeks leading up to Good Friday and Easter, Miss Poddar and her Grade 1 students try to understand the spirit behind the tradition by developing selfless love themselves. They maintain a personalized daily assessment diary where they note their personal sacrifices, if any, on a daily basis and how much money, time, energy and food they are able to save by giving up a personal pleasure, which is then directed towards a good cause such as supporting their adopted sister Murni in Indonesia. In the end, they add up the total savings generated as a result of their self-control.

Every year, a large number of students make a significant discovery, namely that there is life without television! They give up their favourite addiction, namely watching TV in favour of playing sports or reading a good book. Other Grade 1 students help out their parents by performing extra chores at home, such as loading the dishwasher, sorting and folding laundry, serving breakfast to their family on weekends, cleaning their rooms and making beds. Many of them give up candy, gum and chocolates for the entire 40 days leading to Easter. Instead, they switch to healthier snacks such as fruits and vegetables. Other creative students resolve that upon return from school, instead of running into the house, with a trail of woolen accessories strewn around, they ought to sort and store their own and family members’ gloves, hats, mittens and other easy-to-misplace accessories neatly in their designated place, thus saving time and energy required while looking for them the next time, when they are stepping out.

The last two months of the school year, namely May and June, bring the value of Truth to the forefront. This season coincides with the school’s annual Walk for Values, a brain-child of the Sathya Sai School of Canada’s Parent Council. What began as a local community outreach project has now inspired sister events nationally across Canadian cities and internationally in countries as far as Australia.

 

To read accounts of Walk for Values from previous years, click the below links.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
         
spacer
The Walk for Values includes participants on foot, bands, mascots, value cheers and value floats
spacer   spacer
Students and teachers of the Sathya Sai School are on the forefront of the walk 
spacer
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
       
 
spacer
Sponsored by the Parent Council of the school, the unique walkathon requires no monetary pledges 
spacer   spacer

The Greenwood family steps forward to make the world a better place

spacer

The Walk for Values this year will be held on June 10 and the staff, students and parents of the school are leaving no stone unturned to make the event inspiring and memorable for everybody, especially the local community. They had a promotion for this event in Dundas square in downtown Toronto on May 27 and will be following this up with another similar event on June 3.

Exceptional Experiential Learning – ‘Learning Through Serving’

The learning in the school is not confined to only value-based lessons in classrooms, there is also another significant ‘practical workshop’ so to say which is inspired by Swami’s ideals of community outreach service projects. And the kind of virtues that this program instills in young hearts is profound. In bite size servings, customized for easy assimilation, the students learn the priceless lesson of the underlying connectivity that exists behind all manifest life.

Several times each school year, students collect vegetarian, non-perishable food items for the Daily Bread Food Bank and visit lonely elderly senior citizens in their lodges at Christmas time and on Valentine’s Day to serenade them by singing value songs and presenting them with hand-made gifts.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
 
  spacer    
spacer
Santa’s little helpers descend on the Homes for the Elderly and sing carols to them
spacer   spacer
A loving reindeer hands a rose to a senior citizen
at the facility
spacer
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer

A warm hug for a lonely heart

spacer   spacer
Keshan Sritharan brings joy to an elderly person
spacer
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Everyone can use a loving hug
spacer   spacer
    ...from Santa’s friendly helpers
spacer

By doing chores like the child humanitarian Ryan Hreljac (a Canadian child who at the age of six, began raising money for the world's most needy, and has since raised over $1.5 million for water projects in Africa), they have raised more money than any other school in Canada for water wells in Africa where two wells have been dug in the name of the Sathya Sai School of Canada. They continue to support their adopted sister Murni in Indonesia through the Foster Parents Plan of Canada as well as other disadvantaged children globally by making personal sacrifices and performing extra chores. They are not allowed to seek handouts from family members.

Students are excited to participate in various other experiential lessons, having oodles of fun along the way. Says Darini Hariharan of Grade 2:

spacer
spacer  
    spacer
spacer
    Darini Hariharan, Grade 2
spacer  


“My school gives me lots of opportunities to help others. Children Helping Children (CHC) is my favourite project. It allows me to perform extra chores at home and earn money to help my brothers and sisters elsewhere in the world who are poor. Last year, I told my parents that I did not want to celebrate my birthday with a party. I also worked hard, performing many extra chores around the house to earn money. I then shared all this money with the children who live in an orphanage run by our beloved Swami in India.

That made me so happy. This year, I again help my Dad to vacuum and dust the house and my Mom in the kitchen. I also fold washed clothes. I perform many extra chores for which my parents gave me money towards my CHC collection. I also sacrificed the $100 my parents gave me on Tamil New Year for spending when I grow up. I decided I would work and earn money on my own when I grow up. For now, I added the $100 to my CHC collection. In the last two years, I worked hard and sacrificed my birthday parties and New Year gifts to raise more than $700 to bring joy to children I have not met but who may be sad or sick and who I would like to be happy, just like me. My school teaches me that when others are happy, our hearts grow and glow with joy. I love to make a difference.”

 

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Ryan Hreljac’s visit to the school inspired the school tradition of Children Helping Children
spacer   spacer
Learning the values of love and sacrifice through
singing and chores
spacer

  spacer
spacer
spacer  
 
  spacer
Nikita Jariwala, Gr. 6
spacer

For Nikita Jariwala of Grade 6 bringing joy to others is the ultimate gratification.

“I feel so happy that I’m doing something good for someone else. I love to see the smiles on their faces…I have learned many life lessons: always speaking the truth, respecting elders, forgive and forget, think before performing an action and always keeping the big picture in mind before doing anything. Truly, my learning experience here has been spectacular, both for my self development and academic growth…I have enjoyed learning the fun way by participating in the Science Fair, Public Speaking Contest, Spelling Bee and by representing our school at the Terry Fox Run to find a cure for cancer, visiting Seniors’ homes, our annual Christmas concert and the famous Walk for Values. Last year, our class was on the float. We danced and sang songs throughout the walk and I pledged to practice more patience. I love yoga and meditation because they improve my ability to focus and concentrate. I’m also able to relax, feel calm and reflect.”

Experiential learning is indeed the key to the school’s successful implementation of the Character Education Program, and the earlier mentioned kindergarten initiative, the mitten tree service project, is one such with sets the ball rolling quite early and has deep positive impact in the students’ psyche.

 

spacer
spacer  
    spacer
spacer
    Gr 3 students Sai Sujani and Krithika Ragupathi
spacer  


Truly, future Canadians are being groomed here day in and day out in the art of responsible citizenship. One such student is Krithika Ragupathi of Grade 3. A high achiever in both character education and academic excellence, Krithika loves her school because of who she can look up to as her role models .

“I liked our former Principal Mr. Pillay’s smile the most. I love my current Principal Dr. Revathi and my teachers. Everyone here is so nice. One day I would like to be nice like them. When I leave this school, I will miss them all but the thing I will miss the most is our Beloved Founder Sathya Sai Baba’s picture in our school. Looking at it, I feel very happy. After graduating, I am going to spread the values to the other schools I go to and I will set a good example for people so that they too will be inspired to practice the human values.”

 

Parents as Partners

The students of the school are not the only ones who are being transformed due to the values education. Their parents, siblings and members of extended family too are reaping the rich harvest of the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values program. And in fact, one of the principal reasons for the success of the programme is the parents. Swami says,

spacer
spacer  
    spacer
spacer
    In His parental care, the school blossomed
spacer  

 

Parents and teachers are the sculptors who have to mould the shape of the students for whom they are responsible. If parents and teachers set the right example, the students will automatically blossom into models of excellence and bring glory to the nation.

It is heartening that the Ministry of Education, Government of Ontario too echoed the same sentiments. Their document ‘Finding Common Ground’ said:

“Parents and guardians have the primary responsibility for character development, with the support of others in the community.”

In fact, research shows that there is a clear connection between genuine parent involvement in schools and student achievement. If it takes a village to raise a child, raising him/her upright takes an entire community of people who practice the virtues themselves.

  spacer
spacer
spacer  
 
  spacer

Alisha Bapoo, Gr. 2 presenting her project on India

spacer

In the Sathya Sai School of Canada, the admission process is as rigorous for the parents as it is for the students. Recalling her experience, Anu Jain, parent of Grade 2 student Alisha Bapoo, says:

“I will never forget the interview process. I work for a multi-media company and let me assure you my job interview was much easier than the grueling interview that Akbar and I went through to get Alisha into the school. I was sweating on that cold winter afternoon by the time the meeting was over. Looking back, today, I realize why it is important to make sure that the applicant’s family is the right fit for the school environment. It is such an engaging partnership.”

In this School, while accepting their child’s admission, every parent has to commit to completing the 15-week Dynamic Value Parenting Workshop within the first year of their child’s enrolment at the School. This is mandatory.

 

The aim of this program is two-fold:

Recognizing that home is the fundamental political, economic and social unit of society and a society’s economic well-being and stability rests on the foundation of good practice of values at home, this program supports the establishment of a stable social system based on tolerance, love, equality, respect, compassion and justice.  

To create happiness and fulfillment in the lives of members of a family so that each functions optimally in the physical, mental, emotional and social spheres, which will create stable family and social systems.

To put it simply, the program asks the parents to become aware of their own and their child’s developmental needs and make a commitment to implement the five human values (Truth, Right Conduct, Love, Peace and Non-Violence) in their life. And this is conveyed through 15 two-hour workshops which are interesting and practical.

Some of the topics dealt with are - How are parents suited to implement Sathya Sai Education in Human Values, Role of Parents in the Moral Development of the Child, Seizing opportunities for Teaching Human Values, Identifying dynamic, Enabling & disabling processes in daily family life, Human Value of Love: Spouse Bond, etc.

For a detailed account of the entire 15-week workshops, please click here.

At the end of each module, participants apply the shared knowledge and experiences to their own family circumstances by setting a personal goal for improvement or change. And this takes the form of an action plan, which they try to put into practice during the week. When the children of parents who had participated in the workshops, were asked if they noticed any changes in their parents, they indicated that their parents have changed and have become more loving, open in communication, supportive and were spending more time with them. Of course, true and lasting change takes time but the parents at least know how to go about it and keep the momemtum.

spacer
spacer  
    spacer
spacer

Divakshi Rohan, Gr. 2

spacer  

Ron and Beena Mucklestone, parents of Divakshi, Grade 2 and Sumeer, Junior Kidnergarten, are both graduates of the Value Parenting program. They both say:

“The Dynamic Value Parenting course provided a ‘toolbox’ of good parenting skills and techniques. As and when situations arise, as parents, we are now aware of these tools and try our best to use them in our daily activities as parents and in our relationships with our children. Before taking the course, we were not so consciously aware of these techniques and were less able to reflect on the right course of action to take as parents. Fortunately we took this course while our children were small – before we could do too much damage to them.

“As Canadian parents, who are also believers in the message of Sri Sathya Sai, we find that the values taught in the school both complement the positive values of Canadian culture and help to fill the ‘gaps’ where mainstream Canadian culture has shortcomings. The school’s emphasis on the universal values of punctuality, self-reliance, respect for diverse cultures, and charitable work are definite reinforcements of the positive values that are present in Canadian society. Where modern Canadian society often falls short is in the areas of civic values: respect for elders, responsibility to society, serving one’s parents and society as a whole - these values are present in the Sathya Sai School , and make for a more well-rounded, well-cultured student.”

Now, Ron is also a trained facilitator of this workshop.

  spacer
spacer
spacer  
 
  spacer
Jayden Singh, JK
spacer

Another couple, Raanu and Mohan Singh of Toronto are busy parents raising four young children, one of whom currently attends the Sathya Sai School.

“Our four year old son Jayden is currently in Junior Kindergarten…Value Parenting neatly tied together all the inspirational books we had been reading on parenting. It taught us to deal with our kids by the tone we use to communicate with them. We have also become more mindful of how we relate to each other as husband and wife. Prior to Jayden attending the Sai School, it was a challenge getting all the children to pray regularly. Since Jayden started light meditation and prayer, it changed the atmosphere at home and the two oldest children are more receptive to praying and are more contemplative and conscientious in their behaviour. Our entire family of six members has undergone transformation ever since Jayden enrolled at the Sathya Sai School.”

spacer
spacer  
    spacer
spacer
Amy Rico, SK
spacer  
 

Vince and Indi Rico, the parents of Amy of Senior Kindergarten, admit that

“At the end of the Dynamic Value Parenting course, we understood how it allows all new parents to find a level playing field as we all are on the same page with regarding our responsibilities as the school’s partners. We are now more mindful about continuing the same character education program at home while our children are in our care…As a Roman Catholic I find these values are life-affirming and transcend the limitations of race and religion. They further reiterate the fundamentals of all faiths. We have not seen another school that has such a consistent quality of administration, and people who really care and exemplify the values themselves.”

Without parents on side, the school knows it cannot successfully implement its Character Education program. It is therefore that the school administrators treat this aspect with lot of care and these parent workshops are conducted always by specially trained facilitators from the larger Sai family, who are, in fact, the backbone of the school. There are also events like Family Nights which are held several times a school year, grade-wise.

On these occasions, teachers or invited guests who are experts in their respective fields make presentations to the school parents on topics of concern and interest which range from preparing nutritious vegetarian meals/snacks to the effect of television and computer games on young children as well as responsible internet surfing, enabling study habits and preparing for EQAO exams. This is yet another step to ensure that the school and every home work effectively as partners to help students blossom into beautiful beings.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Arabhi and Mom Mrs. Ratnajothy at a student-led Parent Teacher meeting
spacer   spacer

Nikita Hannides and Mom Irina admire
artwork at the school

spacer

‘Parents as partners’ programme has become so successful that currently one of the most successful outreach projects of the school is in fact a parent council sponsored programme – The Walk for Values, in which over 3,000 people participate annually, pledging to practice a value for self-transformation and the improvement of family and community life. Since 2006, the Walk for Values has become a national event with Sai Centres participating across the country, raising awareness about Baba’s teachings on character and values education, spirituality and morality. This year (2007), the event became international with Australia replicating the novel idea with its own national Walk for Values.

To read more about Walk for Values, click here.

Volunteers – Examplars of Values in Action

It comes as a surprise to many that though the Sathya Sai School of Canada with a student population of 160 in eight grades (JK, SK, Gr. 1 – 6) has been functioning smoothly for the last six years, yet till recently, it had no janitorial staff! It was and still is served by the loving hands of many committed volunteers.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Volunteers mount the sacred name that makes
the school so blessed
spacer   spacer

Every wall is a labour of love by
the dedicated Sai Youth

spacer

From polishing the floors, to vacuuming, mopping, dusting, maintenance of classrooms, washrooms, corridors, gym, playground and school equipment… all cleaning and secretarial services are provided by men and women who operate with clock-work precision, according to their assigned schedule and undertake these chores as a part of their personal discipline. While many volunteers are grateful school parents, others are members of the Sathya Sai fraternity across the Greater Toronto Area, all committed to the highest social and civic ideals befitting responsible citizenship.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
         
spacer
They fix anything be it plumbing and electrical work
spacer   spacer
Sai youth exemplify “Bend the body, mend the mind”
spacer

The grateful school community consists of students, their families, staff, Trustees, the Sai Organization of Canada and scores of selfless volunteers, friends and supporters who work during and after school hours and behind the scenes to ensure its smooth and seamless running.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
School volunteer # 1 Mr. Vinu Amin has been reporting for duty daily at 8 AM since school began
spacer   spacer
Dedicated volunteer Mrs. Shantha Jegapany works the night shift to serve the school during the day 
spacer
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Jan and Prem Singh (centre), committed school well-wishers flanked by Dr. Revathi and Dr. E. Singh
spacer   spacer
Volunteer Mrs. Parameswaran, a retired Ontario teacher provides one-on-one support to students
spacer

Three retired Ontario teachers Mr. Chetan Ahooja, Mr. Mohinder Kapoor and Mrs. Vinay Nehru are volunteers who run the school’s Technical Studies Program, teaching computer applications to students from Senior Kindergarten to Grade 6.

Mrs. Vinay Nehru explains her motivation for driving a fair distance to report for work :

“As a high school teacher in Ontario’s public school system, I wasted half my teaching life maintaining discipline. As though to reward my patience and perseverance, now in my old age, I have finally discovered a school where I come to do what I am meant to do--that is teach children, not discipline them. Oh, what a pleasure!

“It is my hope that some day, all education, in all schools, all over the world will be imparted through the medium of love, as it is at Sathya Sai School.”

Her fellow volunteer teacher Mr. Mohinder Kapoor relocated to work here. “Even though I lived in Cornwall, about 400 kilometres away from the school’s location in Toronto, I felt that …. my qualifications and experience as a retired educator would be best utilized here. So I made the move…I derive a great sense of inner satisfaction by doing this little service at the Sathya Sai School . My mind is at peace when I am in the company of the students, staff, and many dedicated volunteers there,” he says.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
School parent and volunteer Madame Narayya assists Miss Poddar to deliver the French language
spacer   spacer
Volunteer Visual Arts Teacher Mrs. Sangeeta Rajwani teaches hands-on
spacer

Loved by her students, Mrs. Sangeeta Rajwani is the school’s highly creative Visual Arts volunteer teacher. She has been with the school for seven years now. Describing her experiences, she says,

“It's heaven on earth to be at the school.  The children are angels.  When I'm there, I forget everything about the outside world.  I love His children.  The moment I enter the building, I am able to live in the present with no thought of where I just came from or where I will be going when I leave.  ….Here you ooze with joy while you grow in your mind and heart.”

It takes many hands, hearts and minds and thousands of man-hours of hard work to make this beautiful school happen. Yet the common energy that propels everyone involved to such altruism and selflessness is the powerful personality of Sri Sathya Sai and His compelling example of boundless love.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Former school parent and volunteer Dr. Nithya Ramani conducting a Science lesson
spacer   spacer
Principal Dr. Revathi felicitates volunteer librarian and school parent Mrs. Balsingh
spacer

Every act of service performed at the school is an expression of gratitude to Swami for His gift of this institution to Canada, a project that has now become a personal legend for each individual involved with it. To be associated with an institution that bears Sathya Sai Baba’s sacred name is a blessing and a responsibility that no one ever takes for granted. The President of the Sri Sathya Sai Education Trust of Canada, Mr. Dayal Mirchandani sees the school as “An ideal opportunity to unite all those who share this sacred vision of a contemplative, values-based model of education. When we work in unity for a greater cause, not only the students, but everyone involved experiences a spurt in inner growth.”

  spacer
spacer  
spacer  
  spacer
  spacer
Volunteers: the lifeline of the school
spacer  

What makes the Sathya Sai School and every Sai project around the globe so sacred is that everyone and everything involved is directly inspired by Swami and His selfless nature. Like His life, Baba’s service projects come without any catch, fine print, strings attached, hidden agendas, expectation of gratitude or publicity of any kind.

The Sun Behind the Shine

spacer
spacer  
    spacer
spacer
Beloved Founder - Everyone's favourite
spacer  

Though always not apparent to all, Swami is, in fact, the life and soul of this hallowed school. He, is in fact, their perfect role model and hero. One day, each of them aspires to be as loving, selfless, caring, compassionate and wise as He is. The students know it is a privilege to wear a uniform that bears the crest of His unique school, which many of them describe as a temple of learning.

“Sri Sathya Sai Baba is my favourite teacher. He tells us to watch who we hang out with. He says: ‘Tell me your company and I will tell you who you are’. He teaches us truth, honesty and optimism. He tells us to live in unity because even though we all look different on the outside, we are all the same inside. Isn’t that so cool?” says Archana Thayanithy of Grade 3.

Much of the student population has never met or seen their beloved Founder in person, yet He looms large on their emotional, mental and spiritual radar as a beacon of all things good and positive. Many saw Him for the first time when they came as a big bubbly group to Prasanthi Nilayam in July 2006 to have the rare chance of seeing Him, hearing Him, talking to Him and also presenting a drama titled Power of One. That is when Saivijay Bhat of Grade 2 “Knew that our Founder loves His students where ever in the world they may be. I am very happy and thankful to be a student of the Sathya Sai School of Canada. “

To read the detailed report of this drama from H2H archives, click here.

What touched Grade 1 student SaiSwaran Manorathan the most was the opportunity to hear His voice. “I heard Baba speak for the first time in person. Baba has the sweetest voice in the world. I know He always tells us to speak softly and sweetly. He speaks softly and sweetly Himself!”

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Ganashsai and Thuvatagan with Swami at the conclusion of 'Power of One'
spacer   spacer
He comes down lovingly to interact
with His Canadian students
spacer

Describing the ashram vibe, Saiprashani Jeyandran of Grade 2 says: “The atmosphere in Puttaparti was very quiet and peaceful. I felt very powerful and gained spiritual guidance. I actually touched Him gently by keeping my hand on His leg. That touch made me feel powerful and blessed.”

Ganash Sai Vannithamby of Grade 2 is a confident actor who got to say some powerful lines to Baba up close and personally. Recalling his good fortune, he says, “Looking straight at Swami, I said ‘I am Sat, Chit, Ananda’ (Awareness, Consciousness and Bliss) with a lot of force and confidence. It was a great feeling. Then the most important time came…   My heart was beating so fast. I walked with the garland towards Swami.   Swami touched my forehead. I really don’t know how to explain my joy during this most precious moment. Even now, I feel His touch on my forehead every time I think about Swami. I believe Swami really and truly loves me and accepted me as His child. I really am the luckiest kid in the world.”

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Precious moments treasured for all times at the conclusion of 'Power of One'
spacer   spacer
It was joy and bliss to hear, touch and see Him ,
up close and in person
spacer

Prem Sai Ramani, now a school alumnus, treasures his own precious memory. “There sat Swami, staring at us, sharing His love. It was bliss. You could feel His power like a fireplace heating up a room. I looked up at Him for every line I said, and whenever I did, He smiled, smiling a Swami smile. It was one of those half smiles. I can see that smile right now. It was a beautiful smile. It was the highlight of my trip. Today, I still think of that smile. And I think of that experience, the experience of a lifetime!”

Each student relates to Swami in their own way. For Prashant Munshi of Grade 1, “Sai Baba is Love, Truth, Right Conduct, Peace and Non-violence. On July 13, when we performed in front of Sai Baba, I didn’t take my eyes off of Him even for a second. After the Grand Finale, He asked me my name. I said “Prashant”. I felt very, very happy. I felt as though I had fainted and my spirit just went out of my body and I felt very good. I was filled with love. My gift for His love is that I will never get into any bad habits. I will remember Him and chant His name and I will always keep Him in the centre of my heart.”

  spacer
spacer
spacer  
 
  spacer
Phillip Hannides, Grade 4
spacer

Grade 4 student Phillip Hannides’ spiritual odyssey began “Even before I arrived in India, I felt love coming from our Founder. I knew nothing would go wrong because Swami was there and He would protect me. I felt like I was going to have a good time there and felt very loved.

“When I arrived in India, I already felt Swami’s energy radiating through my heart. When I saw our Founder for the very first time, I felt very special. I realized He is always watching over us and guiding us.”

spacer
spacer  
    spacer
spacer
Nikita Hannides, Grade 6
spacer  

His brother Nikita Hannides of Grade 6 received a life lesson during the play. He recalls:

“When we were singing the grand finale song at end of the play Power of One, I wanted to make Swami happy. So I smiled as big as I could and the next moment, all of a sudden, Swami had this huge smile on his face. Swami proved to me that very second that if you truly love somebody, then that person will always love you back. In the end, all our experiences are a reflection and resound of our own feelings. I learned an important lesson in pure love.”

 

 

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Experiencing the Power of One in person
spacer   spacer

A dream that finally came true!

spacer

Saeejith Nairof Grade 3 returned inspired to live up to the name of the character he played in front of his Founder. “Now, my challenge in life is to become an earnest person and a good human being, like the character Ernest that I played in the drama. With His love and His teachings to guide me, I know I can do it.”

It was a close tryst that Ganesh Naidoo of Grade 5 will never forget . “When I touched His feet, I felt an electric shock or energy shoot up my hand. I also felt really warm for a little while after that. I was surprised that I wasn’t nervous or scared to perform for our Founder. I think that is because I consider Him as an incarnation of Love and a wonderful leader,” he remembers.

For Grade 6 student Raajat Gupta, the experience of being within Baba’s aura was fascinating. He says: “Every day, when our Founder passed by me, I could feel an uplifting feeling in my heart, as if all my burdens were gone. But that’s not all. After performing the play, when He came to take pictures with us, I got to touch His feet. The experience was amazing and simultaneously gave me an incredible energy surge. It was as if a bolt of lightning had struck me. I felt as if good qualities had replaced any bad habits. I felt perfect. That one moment, I will cherish forever!”

  spacer
spacer
spacer  
 
  spacer
Sindura Thirumal and Saeejith during the play
spacer

An accomplished actor,Sindhura Thirumal of Grade 5 landed herself the lead role in the play. She took it to heart and gave it her all and received so much more. She reflects:

“After the whole play was over, He looked at me and said, ‘Come near me’. Later when I thought about what He had said, I realized He meant for me to come close to Him spiritually because physically I was already beside Him, at His right hand side. I felt extremely blessed knowing that I would be closer to Him spiritually because of what He had said. I now feel drawn to my spirit, the Power of the One within me.”

Whatever their equation with the Embodiment of Love, Sri Sathya Sai, all students of His Canadian school enjoy an indescribable and special relationship with Him. Their pure hearts are drawn to the warmth of their beloved Founder whose generosity and loving care provides them with such a nurturing environment to learn and grow.

 

spacer
spacer  
    spacer
spacer
One precious picture worth a million priceless memories
spacer  

Touching Testimonials from Community Members and Institutions

Given their outstanding behaviour and excellence in academics and extra-curricular activities, it is no wonder that the students of the school have won many awards and accolades, but what is more important is that all these laurels have gone a long way in raising awareness of the importance of values and character education in their community too. Their keen sense of engagement, discipline, public speaking and singing skills endear them to people wherever they go. They have addressed rallies and assemblies on the place of the five human values in their lives, which include an Inter-faith prayer after the World Trade Centre tragedy and a welcome dinner for the Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu and various other community and political forums. At various Spelling Bee contests, students continue to secure top positions in both the Senior and Junior categories each year. This exposure has resulted in self-assured, eager to learn, calm, model students, often wise beyond their years.

  spacer
spacer
spacer  
 
  spacer
Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Mr. T.R. Pillay at a reception where the School choir performed
spacer

From time to time, students from the Faculties of Education from the University of Toronto and York University visit the school to observe the Sathya Sai School model as part of their research on alternate schools. This is what two B.Ed. students, who spent some time in the classrooms experiencing the life in a typical day at the Sathya Sai School of Canada for a week, said:

“The impact of positive encouragement from the teachers demonstrates the well-behaved character of the students. Having visited various classrooms, I am impressed with the integration of the curriculum and the five human values. As a future educator, I hope one day I will be able to be a part of this dynamic institution.” – Meron Keleta

The character education program is “something extraordinary and so complimentary to the emotional development of children.” – Sumi Arif

Upon return to their school, the teachers held an exhibition on the unique Sathya Sai education model. In their email, they reported, “We presented Sathya Sai School for our alternate school awareness storefront at York University Keele campus on 13th April. Our professors and classmates were amazed. They all said this school is unbelievable, unique and extraordinary! We presented all the information in a seminar and made a poster for the storefront. Twenty five alternate schools were presented on that day by our classmates. Sai School is now on the York University’s list of best alternate schools.”

A local librarian was so impressed with the good behaviour of the Sathya Sai students in her library that she insisted the school call a meeting of parents in her library so that she could tell them how special and different and well-behaved Sathya Sai School students were. At her request, the school held one of the school-wide Family Nights at the Toronto Public Library where Mrs. Linda Kennedy shared her admiration of Sathya Sai School students with the parents of the school.

Upon hearing of the school’s stellar academic performance in the media in February this year, Mrs Kennedy wrote: “It was so wonderful to see that Sathya Sai School is considered one of the best in the country! Having worked with students and teachers since the school's inception, I have the greatest respect for Sathya Sai School and have always felt that it is the best school I have ever known! The teachers and students have been a joy to work with. The students demonstrate academic excellence, but what really stands out about them is how full of love and empathy they are. They will change the world with their example! Your top standing is well deserved. It has truly been an honour to work with such a wonderful school. Congratulations!”

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Students were specially invited to the inauguration of the Malvern Public library.
spacer   spacer
Mayor David Miller invited Saeejith Nair to join him as he cut the ribbon to inaugurate the new library
spacer
spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Chetana Yellukati introduced the school and its choir to the audience at the function
spacer   spacer
Mrs. Linda Kennedy of the Toronto Public Library reads to kindergartners
spacer

The peaceful atmosphere in the school draws the awe of even the most casual visitor to the school, be it the locksmith, or the mail carrier from Canada Post who once spontaneously commented, “It feels awfully nice in here…unlike any school I have ever delivered mail at.”

A gentleman who drove a mobile dental hospital for a special Brush-o-mania assembly two years ago, walked into the school premises and wept because of what he described as “A self-cleansing experience … I feel my soul has been washed here.”

[The Brush-o-mania is an annual event organized by Rotarians in which the every student of the school participates. The students get a guided educational tour of a mobile dental van and learn about dental hygiene integrated with human values.]

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Dental hygienist from Brush-o-mania mobile dental hospital explains oral hygiene
spacer   spacer
Raghav Bassi and Kirthana Sasitharan check out how it feels to be a dentist
spacer

The professional school photography company Lifetouch Canada that comes for the annual picture day routine is also pleased with the discipline of the children. Every year the photographers comment on the smoothness with which they are able to accomplish their job at the Sathya Sai School as compared to other schools. The manager had once vowed that if she ever had a child, this was the school she would send him/her to.

Sathya Sai’s love energy pervades the atmosphere palpably and is evident in many ways, including the unusual phenomenon of the ‘ growing garland’ - the lovely garland on Baba’s photo that has mysteriously grown longer to unimaginable lengths, sometimes double the size on rare occasions.

  spacer   spacer
    spacer spacer  
  spacer
"We are all petals in the ever-growing garland of love."
spacer

To read more about the “Growing Garland story’, click here.

The growing garland for the school is a potent symbol, latent with valuable lessons. The common thread that runs through the diverse petals tying them into a whole, symbolize the underlying sap of life that runs through all diversity connecting everyone and everything in the universe. Many see it as a symbol of the growing influence of the school’s values-based Character Education program in the community.

spacer
spacer  
    spacer
spacer
M.O.D.E.L.3 student Parnika Godkhindi, Gr. 2
spacer  

For eight year old Parnika Godkhindi of Grade 2, her most treasured experiences at the school include,

“Those overgrown garlands on our Founder Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s picture. They make me feel His divine presence in our school, filling the atmosphere with divinity, warmth, love and peace. I will also never forget when I joined the school in Junior Kindergarten, our Principal Mr. Pillay addressed each of us by our first name and greeted us every morning and bid us goodbye at the doorstep after school. I felt so loved... The most important lesson I have learned is that no matter how highly educated I am or whatever position I achieve in life, the only thing that matters is my character. In order to develop my character, I have to work on it right from my childhood and apply all the five human values to everything I do in life.”

Parnika is a recipient of the school’s coveted MODEL 3 award which stands for the characteristics of a true practitioner of the five human values. Decoded, it means, Motivated, Organised, Disciplined, Exemplary and Loving in three ways – Love for Learning, Love for Humanity and the Environment, and Love for God.

One parent who is all too familiar with the school’s loving environment is Irina Visotskaya whose children Nikita Hannides and Phillip Hannidesattend Grades 6 and 4 at the Sathya Sai School. For Irina, “God is Time. God answered our prayers at the hardest time of our life. A few months after my children had joined the school, their father passed away. The love and support we received from everyone at the school was so heartwarming and exactly what the boys and I needed at that time. God’s love is so amazing! He takes the world away but gives His immeasurable, unconditional love instead…in our case, God washed us with an abundance of this love through our association with the school community…Learning your true nature by practicing love is what the Sathya Sai School of Canada teaches.”

For Grade 2 student Sindu’s parents Lini and Jeyapalan Rajalingam, this wisdom is quite apparent: “Day in and day out, we find that Sindu is learning and growing a lot as a student of Sathya Sai and is also teaching us life lessons. Sometimes, he comments on our behaviours when we least expect it and those comments are profound and very meaningful that you would not otherwise hear from an average seven year old.”

Sensitizing Public Educators

As part of its efforts to create awareness about values among educators of other schools and institutions as well as members of local community, on March 23, 2005, the Sathya Sai School of Canada sponsored a National Symposium on Character Education, followed by a Four-Day Workshop presented by Carole Alderman of the British Institute of Sathya Sai Education in which nearly 100 teachers and community workers participated. According to Dr. M.V. Kanchana, the National Education Coordinator of the Sri Sathya Sai Organization of Canada, “The Workshop and Symposium were well attended by teachers showing interest in the integration of values in the curriculum.  The presentation made by the teachers of the Sathya Sai School, at the symposium, provided a model for integrating values in the existing curriculum. The message was very well received and appreciated by the educators who attended the symposium. The symposium stressed on character education as the key to deal with the decline in the moral values, growing violence and drug abuse among children and society in general.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Carole Alderman and Michelle White of the British Institute of Sathya Sai Education at the Symposium
spacer   spacer
Educators and policy makers attended the symposium to learn about human values
spacer

To read the media report on this symposium, click here.

“To take the effort to its next logical step, the Sathya Sai School also hosted a 4 day workshop on Character Education for teachers, again free of cost, over the Easter weekend. One hundred participants, many of whom are educators, from all over Canada, attended the workshop conducted by Carol Alderman, the Director of the British Institute of Sathya Sai Education. All of them went home well equipped with the necessary tools to implement SSEHV in their respective places,” adds Dr. Kanchana.

spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer
    spacer    
spacer
Participating teachers at the conference
spacer   spacer
Role playing by participants at the workshop
spacer

Carol Alderman has extensive experience in training teachers in the UK to organize their daily lesson plans, learning activities inside and outside the classroom from a values perspective. Participants from across Canada attended the workshop to learn ways to integrate the universal human values, through song, story and hands-on activities, within the daily academic curriculum.

Summer Camp Inspires Inner City Students

The Summer Camp was one of the first initiatives emerging from the Character Education Symposium and SSEHV Workshop in March 2005. One hundred participants had received training in the SSEHV program and as a result, members of the Sai Organization under the guidance of the Principal and Staff of the Sathya Sai School of Canada were well prepared to take it into the wider community.

The request to conduct an EHV Summer Camp in a public school came immediately after the symposium from the Principal of Brookview Middle School that is situated in a low-income area in Toronto. It was the opportunity the Sai Organization was waiting for, and the timing was perfect.

In her appreciation letter, the Principal wrote:

“Many thanks for introducing the values program in the form of a summer camp. The young facilitators (youth volunteers) were superb and of the highest caliber. The Brookview students were sad at the end of the program and made incredible gains from all the activities and relationships which were forged and fostered through your magnificent program.”

To learn more about what happened at the camp, click here.

As a result of the camp, the Principal of Brookview Public School invited Mr. T.R. Pillay, the then Principal of the Sathya Sai School of Canada to speak to her staff on Character Education at her school’s professional retreat in August 2005. He was accompanied by the teachers of the Sathya Sai School who presented the public school teachers with practical ideas on how to integrate values into the Ontario curriculum. These presentations were well-received.

Crown Jewel of Canada Sai Organization

British Columbia based school Trustee Dr. S.V. Evani described the school that binds the devotees of Swami across Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast, as “The crown jewel of the Canadian Sai organization”.

And how true it is! It is in fact, a beacon of light, committed to revitalizing timeless values. Today, the Sathya Sai School of Canada has emerged as the learning ground for all stakeholders, young and old, who treasure it as Sathya Sai’s priceless token of love to Canada. For the group of 333 which included school students, staff, trustees, volunteers and their families, who traveled to Prasanthi in July 2006 to express their gratitude to Swami, though their presentation “Power of One”, Sai is the ‘Only One’ soul and goal of their lives. July 13, 2006, the day when Swami witnessed the drama remains etched in gold in the annals of the school’s history.

The geographic distance between Prashanthi Nilayam and the school in Toronto might be huge, but that does not dampen or diminish the warmth and the spirit of pure love that everyone and everything at this special school reflects. Every morning, future world leaders, arrive at the Sathya Sai School of Canada, looking bright in their neat uniforms, ready to allow the infinite goodness within them to unfold. Many of them are too young to realize the many vital responsibilities that await them as the harbingers of a brave new world order, one where the human values will govern all fields of life. Also unknown to them is their imminent and good fortune to usher in a new age where entire humanity will realize the oneness and sacredness of all creation, thereby fulfilling the prophecies that reflect humanity’s highest aspirations.

With complete confidence in the validity of the organic values that make it so unique, the Sathya Sai School of Canada is forging ahead, pioneering the integration of Character Education with Academic Excellence. It is focused on promoting human excellence by raising good, wholesome future Canadian leaders and global citizens, instead of merely great whiz kids.

  spacer
spacer  
spacer  
  spacer
  spacer
The school’s annual year-end concert reinforces the message of the five human values through dance, song and drama
spacer  
  spacer
spacer  
spacer  
  spacer
  spacer
Common folks, let us all “Love All, Serve All”!
spacer  

Kumaran Subendran of Grade 4 is one such future leader. He joined the school in Junior Kindergarten. He is already concerned about his graduation coming up in two years. “I will miss my beloved school, my friends and the most loving teachers. It is the best school ever. I hope to take the values in my heart wherever I go. I will be a leader and help others. I will not use bad language and hurt anyone. I will show compassion and be a good role model, just like my teachers here. To inspire others to follow my example, I will have to let go of my bad qualities. I will continue to work and improve my character and in the coming years, I will possess the qualities of a good leader and role model."

  spacer
spacer
spacer  
 
  spacer
The Soul of the Canada Sai School
spacer

Prarthana Tirikollur, of Grade 6, will be completing seven years at the school in June when she will graduate and join the public school system. Her take-away from her school experience, is a boost in self-confidence, the most vital ingredient in a person’s character. “We are amazing people and we are capable of anything. I know that no matter what, I will always stay special and I know that no one can ever change that. I know that I am perfect the way I am. When a person has confidence, the universe will change its way to yours. It is wonderful. I know for sure, God has made us for a purpose and that purpose, only we know. I will be ready to face the world and its ways and I know in my heart that I can achieve anything as long as I stay rooted to my practice of the five human values.”

Drawing guidance and inspiration from its matchless Founder, universal teacher, Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the school community is looking forward to further growth, both within and without, to achieve greater success. The school aspires to be a model of holistic learning in North America, growing to a middle and high school. Some parents hope that one day it will become the Sathya Sai University of Canada, just as Sathya Sai Baba said on 17 November, 1999: “start small and grow big” for it is His school, a school He has blessed! As Prarthana echoed the sentiment so prophetically, when we have confidence in our vision, the universe will change its ways to ours, and luckily for those, who have experienced the impact of the Sathya Sai School of Canada, there is no dearth of trust in the Power of One that started it all!


To know more about the school, please visit www.sathyasaischool.ca

Author: Ms. Karuna Sarup-Munshi, currently works as the Office Administrator at the Sathya Sai School of Canada. She is a Gold medalist in M.A., Philosophy from the Anantapur campus of Sri Sathya Sai University . An experienced journalist, she has also worked in the social justice movement.


Dear Reader, how did you like this cover story? Was it inspiring? Did it help you in anyway? What suggestions you have for future cover stories? Please let us know at [email protected] Thank you very much for your time.



spacer
You can write to us at : [email protected]      
Vol 5 Issue 06 - JUNE 2007
Best viewed in Internet Explorer - 1024 x 768 resolution.