To have worked at JB for 34 years was a delight. It was inspiring, demanding and exhilarating as well as exasperating, daunting and tiring. But I wouldn't have had it any other way, neither would the staff and students of JB. We were one large extended family and we learnt and grew with each other. To have been an integral part of this family, to give it shape and direction was a privilege I deeply valued.
I know that JB will retain this spirit, her joie de vivre, her compassion and creativity and will pass on this flame of learning from one generation to another.
When my daughter was born, I decided she would go to my school, JB. My husband agreed Roshni was pure JB material. There was no question of her going elsewhere.
I have too many happy memories of JB to even start listing them. I remember being a reticent and introverted girl at home. But the 12 years spent at JB transformed me into a self-confident person, ready to face the world. I learned to believe in myself, to have courage of my convictions, to stand up and be counted when it mattered. Of course, I also got an outstanding education, paving the way for any career I could pursue.
Even before she started at JB, Roshni came across as assertive, without being aggressive; confident without being arrogant; a straight-talker without being rude or hurtful. These were some of the outstanding qualities the school had nurtured in us. Today's JB girls will inherit the same high standards and values our school has always stood for.
I keep going back to the school, time and again. And I get the same sense of happiness and the rush of energy that it gave me 27 years ago. I am sure that, that will never change!
I distinctly remember my days at J.B. Petit School and have some fond memories of the teachers and my friends in the class.
There were two classes which I enjoyed the most and these were the English and Hindi classes. I loved my blue uniform and spent hours ironing it to impress my friends, especially from the schools around us. I must say, my school days were fun, and gave me opportunities to build my character and the confidence to pursue my goals.
To all the young JB-ites; please let learning be fun in school, respect your teachers and parents, but work hard to follow your dreams.
Don't forget what Dr. Radhakrishnan said, "India's future will be shaped in her classrooms." And for you, in the classrooms of J. B. Petit!
JB has been a defining experience.
I think of the letter written by Elizabeth Alexander (my Standard Three teacher) when I was absent for a day, enquiring after me, saying she and the class had missed me.
I think of Anahita DeVitre, sharing my excitement over a poem I had discovered, but never making an attempt to influence my choice of book during the Library period. I think of Urmila Banerjee's infectious warmth, Mr. Poonawalla's patience (with my befuddled math), Ms. Panthaky's equanimity, Ms. Darasha's bracing liberalism. JB also bequeathed to me a lifelong inability to do any needlework!
Perhaps one of the greatest gifts a school can give you is freedom, despite all its in-built constraints, to wonder, to ask questions. Having compared notes with legions of battle-scarred students, I've realised, that inspite of some reservations, JB gives its students more freedom than any other school in the city.
JB Petit is a school with a gentle power – to transform its girls into women of substance. Here kids dare to debate, dream, work at play and play at work. In a school with minimum rules, maximum rights and the vision to teach subjects like social studies and English Lit the ‘IB’ way, years and years before it became kosher to spout these trendy two initials.
This is a school truly big on little. Mentoring its children and parenting their parents. Such a school’s philosophy doubles as sound parenting philosophy too. So that you drop all adult defences and better believe:
Children should be seen and heard.
In a charming gesture, JB’s legendary principal, Ms Shirin Darasha, blocked out the third word of the classic ‘Please do not disturb’ sign outside her office. ‘Please do disturb’, she warmly extended instead. Amazingly receptive, hugely welcoming, invested in the basic honesty of the young. Every child invited to have her say. Heard without fear of rancour or judgement, the trust rarely abused.
The youngest can teach you too.
Our beloved teacher Anahita Devitre once shared how, half a century ago, she had learnt a whole lot from a soulful kindergartner. Her young muse grew up to become a graceful dancer and poet. Out of the mouth of babes... More recently, Principal Benaifer Kutar strung up a display of colourful Teachers Day cards she received. Because words exude energy, on stressful mornings she says she draws strength with a fifth-grader’s favourite Harry Potter line. The scrawled advice from Dumbledore reads: ‘We must make a choice between what is easy and what is right.’
It’s okay, even good, to be angry.
About things that matter, knowing which battles to pick. About injustice, domestic or social, because equality rocks. Kids are fiercely democratic until life looms to dim that blaze off balance. Till then, though, it feels lovely to figure why your girl’s otherwise competitive football team discreetly did not always go for the goal (only to let the opposing school – an orphanage – have a fair shot to win before treating them to ice cream cones at match end).
EQ scores over IQ every time.
Not an eyebrow arches as JB staff and students hug when they meet in the school corridors. Here, air-conditioned classes are ditched, letting in the fresh air of original thought breeze through its simple rooms.
Open doors, open arms, open minds.
Goodbye authority, adios autocracy. Here heads are held high with the confidence born of being allowed to stumble and stall, fumble and fall. Finding themselves finally, children come beautifully into their stride. Graduating from a place that isn’t school, it’s family.
Sorry to say, this was not my school. And when I sat in my first year on a college bench, it came to me – the spunk and spontaneity with which its girls embraced the world was enviable. Opinionated show-offs, we cribbed then. But having seen my own flower forth from this most genuine space of liberalism, I now say: Way to go, baby! Feminist. Feisty. Forward. Ever forward.