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A Different School of Thought

nisthula@khaleejtimes.com Filed on August 15, 2021

Jacob Thomas President, Good Shepherd International School


Forty-three years since its inception, GSIS stays true to its principle of holistically uplifting every student through their educational journey


Good Shepherd International School (GSIS) was founded by Dr P C Thomas and Elsamma Thomas in 1977 and grew from humble beginnings with a strength of 54 students to over 1,000 at its peak. In July 2020, Jacob Thomas took over as the President of GSIS after his father’s demise.

GSIS is a fully residential school situated in the lush and serene Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu, globally accessible via the international airport in Coimbatore. While academics are the core of the school’s mission, it focuses on the overall development of a child. This means developing the child’s character, habits, core values and essential skills. “I believe that you are rewarded for what you can do, not what you know — therefore our approach to education inculcates not only the accumulation of knowledge but also learning by doing,” says Jacob.

Students join GSIS as early as the third grade and graduate in the 12th grade from a growth and development-centred environment.

GSIS does not admit only the top 10 per cent of the children who apply to it. Instead, it focuses on what it can bring into a child’s life, how it can shape, mould, and give the child personalised attention so that they graduate or take the competitive board exams, with higher confidence in their skills and abilities than they had before. Students are encouraged to learn a musical instrument, develop essential skills like persuasive speaking, critical thinking, and participate in daily physical activities. “We focus on what we can do to prop up the average child or even the child who struggles academically, socially and in other areas — we are confident that we can make that difference in their lives to bring them to the top, whatever the field may be,” explains Jacob.

Every single individual in the institution is focused on the student’s well-being and development, with a staff to student ratio that does not exceed 1:4 and no more than 20 students per class. The dedicated staff members are veterans in the field, having been with the school for two to three decades.

It is a vast campus of over 100 acres with over 1.2 million sq ft of constructed area that includes several facilities for collaboration, learning and innovation. GSIS has its own farm that includes dairy, poultry, and vegetables. It is also in the process of implementing a hydroponics farm to expand its menu and provide nutritious and organic food for all the residents. It will also serve as a platform for students to learn and experiment, as it converges biology, chemistry and computer science (IoT).

GSIS is one of the first International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) schools in the country with consistently good academic results.

It is further expanding to include the IB Primary Years Programme and Middle Years Programme in 2021 in continuation with the Cambridge curriculum that had been offered for the last 27 years.

GSIS fully prepares students for university — many gain admissions to universities abroad in the UK, US, Singapore, Australia and more.

Keeping teachers updated on the industries’ latest technology is a continuous and ongoing process that GSIS undergoes, leveraging industry experts, best practices, and careful planning to ensure constant evolution. The school hires teachers with a wide range of experiences and skills — including young graduates who bring a fresh perspective.

Both students and teachers have always used laptops in the classroom, so there was a sufficient level of experience to build on during the pandemic. GSIS expanded its investment and usage of digital content, integrating it into lesson plans while deployed on various digital platforms for teachers and students to collaborate on, and for parents to track their child’s progress. There are plans to increase the usage when students return to campus. WiFi has been made available to all our students in all boarding houses. Co-curricular activities were integrated into the daily schedule even online.

A Different School of Thought (https://images.khaleejtimes.com/assets/png/KT29748815.PNG)

Despite the challenges faced due to the pandemic:

  • All students were awarded the IB diploma, 26 per cent achieved a total score above 40, 67 per cent above 35 — with an overall average of 36.3 per cent, 103 perfect 7s and our School Captain (boys) secured an outstanding result of 45/45!
  • 100 per cent of the Indian School Certificate 12th grade students achieved a distinction in both science and commerce streams — with an overall average of 89 per cent, over 90 per cent of ICSE 10th-grade students achieved a distinction — with 12 students scoring 100 per cent in subjects, with a class average of 88.4 per cent in science and 83.3 per cent in commerce.

The vision

“GSIS will be more technologically advanced in our learning methodologies and tools, and more integrated with advanced pedagogy and curriculum that is more aligned with university courses and emerging careers. We aim to be globally recognised and ranked among the best schools in the world, attracting world-class teachers while allowing students to explore more career paths,” says Jacob.

“While we have been a stand-alone school for the past 45 years of our existence, I believe there is an opportunity to expand our value and presence both within India, the Middle East and Asia.”

Education World India School Rankings

2020

All India #2, Tamil Nadu #1

First in Co-Curricular Education, Individual Attention to Students and Safety and Hygiene

2019

All India #2, Tamil Nadu #1

First in Infrastructure Development, Co-Curricular Education, Safety and Hygiene

2018

All India #2, Tamil Nadu #1

First in Safety and Hygiene

Jacob Thomas

President, Good Shepherd International School

Nisthula Nagarajan





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