For the last 10 years, 64-year-old Uma Sharma had been on a hospital bed. Her entire body, except her hands and face, were paralyzed for a decade. But her physical limitations did have not barred the school principal from missing even a single academic day at school. She was present every day, virtually.
She died earlier this week, leaving thousands of grieving parents, students and teachers behind. Uma was completely paralyzed from her neck down but had fought adversities to administer the National Public School in the district every day.
As educators what can we learn from her story?
Narrating her story to ANI, Sharma said that she started working in 1994 and was paralyzed in 2007 since then she is active in the administration work from home.I had the passion to teach the students and make them capable enough to live a better life. I was paralyzed in 2007 and during that time I lost both my daughter and son. Still, I did not give up. I tried to carry out my responsibility towards the children of the school.
In our daily schedules as educators, we come across moments which can weaken us, the results can go off target and things won't go as planned but can we take inspiration from Ms. Uma Sharma and think once before giving up on a certain task,result or whatever we aimed at achieving for the improvement of our schools. YES we can !!
2.Make the best possible use of the available resources to make the ends meet.
Teachers and students at the National Public School in Uttar Pradesh's Saharanpur say their principal has been an inspiration.
"We never felt as if she was not in school because her virtual presence is more than anybody else's physical presence," said school administrator Surendra Chauhan to ANI.
Ms. Sharma stays alone, about 5 km from the school, and has a helper to get her through the day. She was highly regarded both as a teacher and as a human being for her indomitable will and courage.
“My mother was as strong as Stephen Hawking,” said her daughter Dimple Sharma
Dish antennas were installed at her residence in Numaish Camp and the double-storey junior school in Jwala Nagar, situated around 2 km from her house, so that live audio and video feeds could be transmitted. Uma monitored activities through CCTV cameras installed all over the premises. She also interacted with teachers and students frequently over her tablet and called them over to her house to discuss activities at school.
Life can give you lemons but can we make lemonade out of them? Managing the available resources in the most optimum manner opens doors that can lead you to solutions. Also, as the school leader, it becomes much more important to streamline your resources and squeeze the maximum out of what is available:
3.Treat SETBACKS as SETUPS for extraordinary comebacks
Uma’s other daughter Neha Sharma, said setbacks in her mother’s life were only "setups for extraordinary comebacks". She added: “My mother had taken admission in Maharani Laxmi Bai Medical College in Jhansi but had to discontinue studies as she got married only six months after joining the MBBS course. My parents sold off a movie theatre in Saharanpur so that my father could start his business. Meanwhile, my mother continued her studies and earned a postgraduate degree in English literature and a BEd later. She subsequently started a kindergarten school in 1989 with 60 children which is now the National Public School with 600 students and classes up to VIII.”
Every obstacle...every challenge that comes across you will offer you an opportunity to learn, get over them successfully and come out a stronger person. Taking up the challenge on its face and finding solutions is the only way to move forward.
4. STAY HAPPY...No matter what
Simple Makani, the school's coordinator, said, “Every time I met Uma, I would return home inspired. She would crack jokes and made tough situations appear as if they were nothing. There were very few like her around anywhere."
The tough times in our lives can be as important to our happiness as our positive experiences. Times will change and situations sometimes cannot be in your control. What can make a positive difference to you and the environment surrounding you is how you as a leader handle it. Can you still be as happy as when things were going your way?. Definitely, because happiness is a habit.
Crediting her mother for being her source of inspiration, Sharma said her only motive is to give the children a better environment and education so that they can excel in future.
Hats off to this lady. Nothing bogged her morale down. She accepted and pursued her life as it came and fought all the odds to make it till here.
The article has been inspired from the original story of Ms. Uma Shankar posted in Times of India which can be accessed Here.