Lead with Grit, Dynamism & Valour, you would definitely emerge Triumphant

Mrs. Nellie Ahmed Tanweer, Founder – Maria’s Public School

Maria’s Public School is a provider of holistic education in a student-friendly atmosphere where children grow up to be confident young adults with a strong foundation, a global exposure with a firm and positive hold on their roots.

Way back in 1988, Mrs. Nellie embarked on a journey when Maria Montessori House of Children kicked off with just a single child. The school was accepted by all & sundry and within a very short span of time graduated to Maria’s Public School. Today, after 27 years of its establishment, the school teems with 2000 plus children with a reputation of being one of the most venerated institutions in the region.

Her interest also lies in income generation projects for the underprivileged women in her handloom industry and in the school. She is proud to be upholding the rich heritage of handloom by empowering the underprivileged women with a platform to earn their livelihood with dignity in her weaving unit.

In 1998, she was chosen to visit Birmingham as a leading entrepreneur of northeast. She has been honored with varous awards like Rajiv Gandhi Shiromoni Award in 2012, Best Entrepreneur Award in Northeast India by FICCI in the year 2012, the NEDFi Award 2015 for entrepreneurial initiative in the North East Region, ‘Be the Change – Stree Udhyami Award’ by the Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE) in 2016, Woman Achiever’s Award for Education by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2016 and the Most Influential Leader by White Swan Awards-for Excellence in Education in 2016.

To add to these accolades, the former Chief Minister of Assam has also acknowledged her initiative towards the differently-able students. Mrs. Nellie is also a member of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) in the northeast region.

Mrs. Nellie share some more insights from her journey with team ABT in this interview.

What is your greatest inspiration and why?
My greatest source of inspiration is my work-field where I connect the learner with the learned, where I give wings to the tiny-tots to soar high in the horizon. My mother Sophia Z Ahmed was my first inspiration who had always encouraged and stood by me in all my endeavours. My maternal grandfather and illustrious poet and philosopher Gyanmalini Kabi Late Mofizuddin Ahmed Hazarika is another source of inspiration who had taught us the true cause and mission of a human being. They have instilled values in me and helped me to become what I am today. Hence they remain my greatest inspiration.

Tell us about Maria’s Public School and its reach so far.
Besides a leading CBSE curriculum based school, we have collaborated with the British Council implementing its programmes and has signed an MoU with the State University of New York. The school has been sending delegates to the United Nations International School, New York to participate in various programmes since 2007. Participation in the Model United Nations (MUN) across the country is a regular feature for the students in the school.

Marian students have also bagged numerous international and national awards in the cultural and sports events. The school has earned the designation of being the National Coordinator School for India of the Green School Alliance, USA which is an international organization of sustainable schools that fosters collaboration among its members to help them set and meet individual and collective sustainability goals.

MPS has won the prestigious International School Award from the British Council and the ‘Most Influential Brand’ conferred by the White Swan Awards. It has also achieved the School Excellence Award, 2017 conferred by Brainfeed for being among the top 500 schools in India. Apart from the global connection, various awards and recognitions, MPS maintains a strong bond with its roots through its Community Connection programmes and International Award for Young People (IAYP) projects.

Tell us about some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them.
I have built this institution almost single-handedly, of course with support and encouragement from my family and school staff. But challenges are aplenty to advance and persist. I take all challenges in my stride with the motto of ‘Truth, Determination and Perseverance’. I believe that there is a little difference between obstacle and opportunity and that, one can turn both to their advantage.

What are your views on the input of social media in education and children?
Social media is an easily accessible way to connect and communicate. This has, in fact become the greatest source of information and exchange of ideas. This has proved to be an impetus for children to become independent, aware and focused.

But children must be taught and guided to use this technologically advanced tool wisely. MPS holds workshops and counseling sessions on its legal and moral aspects regularly to keep use of social media trouble-free.

Tell us about your most cherished milestone.
My most cherished milestones are the alumni of MPS, many of whom are highly placed professionals throughout the globe. Besides that, the highpoints of my career are the innovative projects like ‘Learning Beyond the Classroom’ which is gathering momentum as the 21st century education all over the globe today, whereas I envisaged it in the 20th century.

When Inclusive Education was unheard of way back in the 80’s, I took in two students, Sarwar Hannan and Kaveri Hazarika who are, at present, an Art teacher and a successful homemaker respectively. This branch of MPS now provides best of education to the differently-able children with a team of specially trained teachers.

Another cherished milestone is the International Education Conference: Paradigm Shift in Education in the 21st Century – A Northeast Perspective which was first of its kind in northeast India. The awards and the recognitions that have been bestowed upon me and my school have also been some of my cherished milestones as these heighten my zeal to materialize my vision.

What would be your advice to women who wish to become entrepreneurs?
When I look back and reminisce, I find myself driven by a passion, a passion to turn my dream and vision into reality. That passion has made me what I am today. I have always tried to steer myself with my motto of ‘Truth, Determined and Perseverance’ and a sense of commitment and responsibility and I have seen results.
I have observed that the much-debated issue of gender discrimination is a man-made notion and it can be overcome with a concoction of grit, dynamism, valour and righteousness. So I would like to ask all aspirants to dream, be passionate, committed and strive hard choosing the path of truth, determination and perseverance until the dream is fulfilled.

What would you like to achieve in coming years?
It is not really a question of ‘achievement’ but commitment and persistence. I am committed to my work and my vision. I feel fortunate for being able to galvanise a new dimension in school education of northeast India. And in coming years, I intend to widen my horizon and set up seats of higher education.