Abha VishwakarmaCity mentor among Fulbright 64

As published in The Telegraph of August 27, 2011. By Antara Bose

Jamshedpur’s Kerala Samajam Model School (KSMS) economics teacher just got handpicked among 64 mentors from across the globe for a rare honour.

Abha Vishwakarma (50) has been picked for this year’s International Leaders in Education Programme (ILEP) under the Fulbright Scholarship, one of the most prestigious honours in the US.

Of the 64, 10 teachers are from India, while Vishwakarma is the sole entrant from Jharkhand.

The Fulbright, a merit-based grant for international educational exchange for the benefit of students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists, founded by US senator J. William Fulbright in 1946, sends abroad US citizens who are its recipients and welcomes non-US citizens to the host country.

“It is a pleasure to be selected for the Fulbright Scholarship,” said a smiling Vishwakarma, who has taught at KSMS for the past 15 years.

She had applied for the scholarship in March 2011.

The tenure of the five-month scholarship will start from January 2012.

The entire process of selection involved a four-level screening process, including her TOEFL scores.

When her name was finally announced, she could not believe it.

The ILEP provides international teachers with unique opportunities to develop expertise in their subject areas, enhance their teaching skills and increase their knowledge about the US.

The programme comprises a semester-long non-degree, non-credit academic programme at a US university.

It includes course work in teaching methodologies, lesson planning, teaching strategies for the home classroom environment, leadership and the extensive use of computers, including Internet, word processing and related tools for teaching.

Vishwakarma has great hopes from the time she will spend in the US between January and May, 2012, though she does not know as yet where exactly she will be sent.

“I’m really excited at the chance to learn again. I’d like to add value to my teaching at KSMS through technological aids and new methodologies,” Vishwakarma, who defined a good teacher as a perennial learner, said.

Understandably, her peers at KSMS are also proud of her.

“Having a Fulbright Scholar teaching here (at KSMS) is a great thing for the institution. I hope her achievement and subsequent exposure adds value to the school. I hope that my teacher keeps on contributing her knowledge for the growth of students,” said KSMS principal Nandini Shukla.

Two earlier Fulbright scholars from Jamshedpur are Kolhan University pro-vice chancellor Laksmisree Banerjee and Mango-based Kerala Public School vice-principal Soma Banerjee.