Mary Shanti Priya: Reinventing, Enriching, and Empowering the Leaders of Tomorrow 

Mary Shanti Priya
Mary Shanti Priya

A mother is the first teacher who teaches her child how to begin their life ahead. Yet, every child’s real learning on the path of education starts with its first teacher. A child loves, trusts, respects, and believes in its mother completely. The same goes for its first teacher.

Thus, from the tender embrace of a mother to the guiding light of a first teacher, a child’s journey into the realm of education is deeply rooted in trust, respect, and belief. Meet Mary Shanti Priya, a transformative teacher in the world of education and child development. As the driving force and Principal of Vista International School – a temple of knowledge nestled amidst tranquil greenery, Mary personifies an unwavering commitment to nurturing young minds and sculpting a brighter tomorrow.

At Vista International School, the term ‘Vista’ encapsulates a pledge—a commitment to fostering an educational voyage that is not just enlightening but profoundly enriching. Mary’s passion is the cornerstone of the school’s ethos, inspiring an educational experience that transcends conventional learning.

The Agent of Change

Her principles harmoniously intertwine with Vista’s core values, centred on trust, respect, innovation, and a vibrant community spirit. Throughout her tenure, Mary Shanti Priya has tirelessly dedicated herself to enhancing the very fabric of school life, ensuring that each learner embarks on an extraordinary path of growth and enrichment.

Mary’s profound dedication to education is evident in every facet of Vista School, where her visionary leadership and values permeate through the very essence of the institution. Her unwavering commitment to nurturing young minds into compassionate and knowledgeable individuals is not just a testament to her passion but a guiding light for future educators.

At Vista School, Mary Shanti Priya leads with a vision—to cultivate an environment where children learn and flourish. From Nursery to Grade 10, the school is a testament to her dedication to providing a comprehensive and holistic education. Within this nurturing community, the needs of each student take precedence, creating a caring and supportive ecosystem.

Fostering an Immersive Learning Experience

Grounded by the noble task of nurturing children as exemplary individuals, Mary Shanti Priya is a driving force behind Vista’s continual advancement and sustainability. Her leadership resonates through Vista’s commitment to delivering not just education but an all-encompassing experience that shapes well-rounded individuals poised to positively impact the world.

Mary’s passion for education, coupled with her commitment to Vista’s core values, makes her an exemplary figure to follow in the domain of educational leadership. Her dedication to fostering a learning environment where children thrive and evolve into compassionate, empathetic, knowledgeable, mindful individuals, setting a benchmark for excellence.

Elucidating the start of her saga, Mary says, “If I have to go down my memory lane, I confess that I came into this profession by chance and not by choice.” However, with the passing of time, she never knew when that chance turned into a choice and later a passion all capsuled together to give back to the student’s fraternity for the amount of love and fan follow up. “We as teachers receive from them day in and out. You can feel it only when you are a teacher. So, though it was necessity that made me a teacher, what motivates me to stand out as an educator is this overwhelming desire to give back.”

The Journey of Success

Today, Mary Shanti Priya has emerged as one of India’s best educators. Sharing the guiding philosophy that propelled her success, Mary says, “Synonym of Life according to me is Challenges and the grace to accept them as well as overcoming them is Success. I strongly believe that when the going gets tough, the tougher gets going.”

Mary’s guiding philosophy for life is unquestioning belief in the almighty supreme power and self. It is very important for every human to have a clear vision, a purpose, a goal and an ambition in life. Her beacon is a positive thought that one is born with a purpose, and must achieve that purpose. She adds, “When we talk about success, we always think about big achievements, but trust me, the small contentment we get when we complete a task given to us is nothing but SuccessI never worked to become successful but always worked with love and a strong sense of commitment – a commitment that is rooted in the accountability towards my students and their parents. At the end of the day, it is their trust we need to uphold as our profession is to work or chisel or carve students’ future, character, and personality. Hence, I worked very consciously at every stage of my profession and over time, it has propelled me to what you call success, but for me, it’s just the beginning of my journey.”

Acing Adversities

The educational landscape is continually evolving. Mary, too, believes that change is constant and unavoidable in any profession. Being open-minded, flexible, and having a focused vision helps you embrace change and evolve. There can be no better example than the COVID-19 times when the entire education fraternity evolved and adapted technology to ensure that academics remain unaffected.

The pandemic reshaped education globally, posing challenges at every turn. Nonetheless, Mary guided Vista’s team, students, and parents in navigating these unprecedented times and adapted strategies to ensure educational continuity.

Mary led her team in assessing the institution’s technological capabilities and invested in the necessary infrastructure, such as implementing a Learning Management System (LMS) and providing devices to students without access.

Proving herself as the leader of the hour, she recognized that teachers may need support transitioning to online teaching and organized intensive training programs to realise the same. This included workshops on effective online pedagogy, digital tools, and strategies for maintaining student engagement in a virtual environment.

To redesign the curriculum to suit online learning, Mary ensured the incorporation of interactive and engaging elements such as virtual labs, online discussions, and collaborative projects.

Tech-Knowl-Edged Focus

The Vista team implemented robust systems for continuous assessment. The leader ensured that students received timely feedback on their progress. This involved leveraging technology for online exams, quizzes, and feedback mechanisms.

Mary, a student from a technological background, inherently understands that in education, technology plays a pivotal role in enhancing efficiency. She informs, “Hence, we use technology not just in the classroom to make the teaching process scientific, objective, clear, simple, easy, interesting, and effective but also for ERP, Payroll, Parent portal and transport tracking to optimize services. I strongly believe that a secure and robust IT infrastructure is the foundation of a 360⁰ learning experience. It supports digital content, protects key student data, boosts operational efficiency, and provides the security and privacy protection today’s school needs.”

According to Mary Shanti Priya, today’s learning goes beyond the physical realm, touching on aspects like augmented reality, immersive learning, and virtual learner experience. Thus, she says that to ensure the students have immersive learning and virtual learning experiences, they have an adaptive learning platform called FOCUS that uses data analytics to understand individual learning patterns. They can tailor content to each student’s needs, ensuring a personalized and effective learning experience.

Vista School is equipped with Maker Space Lab, where students learn AR, VR videos and 3D printing. ICT classes include coding with a special focus on Programming and Artificial Intelligence.

Also, sustainability and environmental responsibility are crucial lessons of modern education. Mary says, “We have regular activities for sustainability and environmental responsibility as it is the need of the hour with global warming and other environmental concerns .”

Ensuring a Holistic Learning

However, there are challenges, as the essence of education lies in bringing innovation and advancements while balancing learner expectations and final experience. Mary shares that one of the most challenging things is to balance expectations and experiences in education. To take a call on what to bring into the school system can be overwhelming, especially with a plethora of information and innovations, fast-moving technological applications, and EdTech companies in the market. Her decisions are hinged on their contributions to the learner’s expectations and their final experience. “We do quite a lot of market research and take opinions from all the school’s stakeholders. We also look at the progression in the curriculum and ensure that it meets the demands of the dynamic market requirements. As we strongly believe that we need to prepare students for life, not just for marks,” she adds.

Further, the sudden shift to remote learning during the pandemic involved many challenges, like ensuring that students receive quality education despite the limitations posed by the sudden transition to online and remote modes. The sudden closure of physical campuses and the need for social distancing measures required the institution to quickly adapt to remote learning, posing challenges in terms of technology infrastructure, teacher training, and ensuring equitable access for all students.

The Transformational Leadership

Nevertheless, Mary led her team by supporting and completely believing in them. There are no individual transformative projects for her, but the entire Vista International School is her constant transformational initiative. “The transformative project undoubtedly was, is, and will always be the school I am currently working. I joined the school six years ago when it was a sinking Titanic. I had to burn many night oils, and I do the same even now because success is not the destination nor a point where you feel you have reached and relaxed. Rather, it is a journey. It’s even more important for us, those in the field of education, as we shape the futures of young minds, and it’s a trust. I will consider myself successful.”

That is why Mary Shanti Priya’s leadership style is often recognized as an empowering force behind her personal and Vista International School’s achievements. Shedding light on her approach to leadership and team building within the organization, Mary humbly says that she is a little apprehensive about using the word leader because a leader must sacrifice a lot.

Shaping the World of Tomorrow

To me, in the true sense, visionaries like Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa, to name a few, deserve the adulation and recognition as leaders. So, we are way behind in owing the leader tags. Leading by Example is my simple answer to building a team or work culture. It is said that to handle yourself, use your Head, and to handle others, use your Heart. Hence, as the head of the organization, it is very important to have a 360-degree approach whenever we take decisions or policies, which helps build the team and the organization.”

Mary further adds that leadership is not a position. It’s a rewarding responsibility. Thus, divulging her future vision, she says, “As such, I want to continue to be a productive and efficient torch bearer by maximizing my skills and knowledge to ensure that I support providing high-quality teaching and learning for all students. I will continue to reinvent, enrich and improve myself to make a significant difference in the lives of my students and those I have come in contact with. I want to be an agent of change.”

Mary Shanti Priya’s trailblazing journey continues to pave the way for a new era of educational excellence, shaping the lives of countless young learners and inspiring a generation poised to make a meaningful difference in the world of tomorrow.