Interview with Principal, Shaila Bhamidipati

  • 20 June 2021

Oakridge International School (OIS) Visakhapatnam is part of Nord Anglia Education, the world’s leading premium schools’ organization having 69 schools across 29 countries.

We caught up with Shaila Bhamidipati, who has recently joined as the Principal at Oakridge Visakhapatnam on her thoughts about the future of education in these changing times.

What are your thoughts on the role of technology in education going forward?

It is not about iPads, Wi-Fi-enabled whiteboards, and touch-screen TVs in every corner. Instead, it’s about enriching teaching and learning through technology and data so students are more engaged, inspired, and able to achieve more than they thought possible.

Oakridge students are part of our internal Global Campus platform, where they can interact and learn along with 67000 plus students from across our partner schools across the globe. This platform hosts a plethora of learning content that students can access from anywhere and at any time. Similarly, our Oakridge teachers can connect and learn from 10,000 plus teachers across the globe, sharing best practices and experiences. So, such globally integrated tech-enabled learning, allows students and teachers to prepare for the inter-connected world of tomorrow.

The role of technology in education is and will always be important. We foresee a future of blended learning with a combination of online and offline learning.

What makes the education experience at Oakridge Visakhapatnam unique?

With the fast-pacing changing world, it has become so much important for our children to get ready for the present and future. Providing opportunities for students to develop skills and meet the needs of a changing world, Oakridge offers exclusive educational programs in collaboration with world-renowned institutions like MIT, Juilliard, and UNICEF.

With MIT collaboration, our school has gained an opportunity to expand the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) education for our students. While, the UNICEF Collaboration provides students with an opportunity to research, develop and debate solutions to some of the most important challenges that our society faces.

We provide unparalleled industry collaborations: 100 high profile guest lectures annually, career days and industry-specific events. Our CAS programme involves students in ongoing community challenges, inspires action and encourages social entrepreneurship.

How is the teaching community at Oakridge equipped to handle learning in these changing times?

Teachers at Oakridge leave no stone unturned to foster a happy learning environment for our students through various student-teacher connect activities. We are passionate about education and want to continuously improve our teaching practices. Through our Continuous Professional Development Programs, our faculty are provided various opportunities and training sessions to upskill their teaching-learning practices and develop their skills and knowledge.

Nord Anglia University is an exclusive professional development university for Nord Anglia Teachers that provides a rich mix of online and face-to-face opportunities to ensure that our teachers won’t just maintain their skills and expertise, but will develop at the leading edge of educational thinking from the likes of King’s College London.

Oakridge Visakhapatnam is the only school in the country to have an on-campus STEAM Programme in collaboration with MIT. Tell us more about it?

65% of students starting school today will work in a job that doesn’t yet exist. We are dedicated to equipping our students with the skills required for them to flourish in the classroom today and the workplace of the future.

Nord Anglia Education’s collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is designed to prepare students for our rapidly evolving world, equipping them with the skills and techniques to thrive. Our STEAM programme is guided by MIT’s core philosophy of ‘Mind and Hand,’ a hands-on approach to learning across subjects aimed at developing vital transferrable skills through experimentation, trial and error, and creativity.

You have recently introduced the IBDP curriculum for senior grades. What makes this curriculum different from others?

The IBDP, or International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, is an internationally recognized high school program that teaches critical and independent thinking. The structure of the IB program develops breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding. IB students participate in CAS- Creativity, Activity and Service that allows students to learn through experience and take action in the service of others. The Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge Components of the program require students to develop advanced independent research and organizational skills – crucial for any student wishing to pursue higher learning or success in their future careers.

Being exposed to multiple perspectives, learning to articulate their own opinions, balancing academic work with Co-curricular activities, learning through experience, researching and managing their own work- the level of personal growth that IB students achieve is reason enough for choosing this program.

By taking up the Diploma program the student gets an unusual opportunity at the high school level that helps students have an edge over the others when they seek admissions into top universities.

You have been Ranked the No.1 Boarding School in A.P for 5 years in a row. What makes the Oakridge Visakhapatnam Boarding experience enriching for students?

We believe an engaging learning environment plays a vital role in our students’ development away from home. Our world-class boarding facility with state-of-art amenities, sporting infrastructure, and a global mix of students, offers an immersive international boarding experience for our students.

Our Boarding House is a Home Away from Home. Students in boarding are nurtured by trained and experienced boarding professionals in very safe and hygienic surroundings which is conducive for all-round development. The school Senior Leadership team also reside on campus to provide extra support and mentoring to students on campus. They get to enjoy delicious and healthy meals prepared in-house with a multinational contractor.

Students’ wellbeing and safety is our highest priority. The campus is monitored by more than 400 CCTV cameras and houses a full-fledged on-campus infirmary, manned by qualified Doctor and Nurses, with a 24×7 ambulance facility. Our house parents are mentors, counsellors, and friends to all boarders. They are available 24/7 for any need, be it emotional, academic, or practical.

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