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Interview with Mr. Rohan Parikh by Stoodnt.com

How Green Acres Academy Is Bringing Together Best of Indian And International Education – Q&A

Green Acres Academy, Founded in 2013 by The Acres Foundation an educational think tank which is spearheaded by Rohan Parikh in his role as the Managing Director. The Academy brings together the best of Indian and International education to nurture well-rounded, free-thinking, capable individuals who are rooted in humanistic values of caring for their fellow man. It aims to fill the gaps in the educational systems in a very pragmatic way – by keeping the parts that work, and adding a diverse range of extra-curricular for holistic education, new teaching techniques that leverage proven ideas on how children learn, as well as new ideas on how to structure schools so they function like high-performing organisations.

Affiliated to ICSE and CBSE the academy ensures to keep the prices affordable to the middle class. What started as one campus of The Green Acres Academy in Chembur, Mumbai, has grown to a total of 3 campuses across Mumbai and Pune, as well as the latest Seven Rivers International School (an IGCSE affiliate school). The current student count of Green Acres Academy is about 2500 and faculty count is approximately 230.

What was the idea behind launching The Green Acres Academy?
The Acres Foundation’s mission is to bring high quality education to the middle class in India. In the past this has been limited to only the top tier schools and access is in many cases impossible. We feel that if we want to truly impact the future of our country we must ensure that our children have an education that prepares them for the work force of tomorrow. Thus the idea of The Green Acres Academy is to transform students to empowered citizens of tomorrow and bring about positive and real change.

Green Acres is said to bring together the best of Indian and International education to nurture well-rounded, free-thinking, capable individuals who are rooted in humanistic values of caring for their fellow man – How is this done?
Let me break that up. Firstly we believe in implementing practices that have been researched thoroughly. Now the reality is that a lot of this research is done in the west. Our challenge is to assimilate this knowledge and adjust it to match the learning environment in India. This is why we have a full time research and innovation team which is always helping improve teacher performance and student learning.

The Green Acres Academy also believes in holistic education and a lot of focus is given to the socio emotional development of the students.

Our homeroom class at the start and end of the day gives children an opportunity to talk about issues they are facing be it in school, at home or within their peer group. Students make a social contract with each other to define what behaviour expectations they have of them and a forum is held to discuss current events and topics like sex education and bullying.

We also introduce children to a wide range of extra-curricular activities including Indian and Western Music, Indian and Western Dance, Speech and Drama, Self-Defense and four kinds of sports. This gives them a broad exposure to help them find what they are passionate about.

That being said our academic focus is high and we give a lot of support to our teachers to ensure a high level of learning in school.

The Green Acres Academy aims to fill the gaps in the educational systems in a very pragmatic way – Explain how is this done?
Let me explain first how we view schools. At the centre of everything is the interaction between the student and teacher this is where the learning happens. Our entire structure is built to support this process. We had noticed that schools in India had become static and autocratic. Most communication flowed from top down only. At The Green Acres we spend a lot of time and money to ensure teachers are supported by great training and skill building but also through peer learning forums where teachers share problems and solutions.

The parts that did work are the strong foundational skills in maths and sciences which are brought about from repetitive practice and reinforcement. We strongly believe that these should always have a place in schools. That being said we are implementing various technologies to improve learning from a maths program which children do individually on computers and learn at their own pace to an online sharing platform of photos and updates for parents of younger kids. The future of schools will be constant improvement and adjustment based on data gathering from various sources.

How is The Green Acres Academy creating an impact?
Education especially schooling is a long process. We truly hope our students grow to be change makers who impact the world in a positive way. We will know the fruits of our labour only after several years.

Future plans of Green Acres Academy
We hope to expand to another two locations in the coming years. Our schools are already filling up quickly and we want to ensure that no student is left behind.

(This interview with our Managing Director Mr. Rohan Parikh about his vision for The Green Acres Academy, was first published on Stoodnt.com here.)

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