Located on 23 acres of land, in Durgapur, West Bengal, India, an industrial city of more than one-half million people stands the Hem Sheela Model School. Dr. Rabindra Roy, Walter H. Hoffman distinguished research professor at Drury University and president of the model school as well as his wife Dr. Protima Roy, professor of science education at Drury University, vice president and trustee of the model school,helped establish the school. According to Roy, the Hem Sheela Model School is a non-profit organization that was built in loving memory of his parents with a single objective. This objective is to disseminate knowledge with personalized attention to each student and to find new knowledge. Mr. Lakshmi Roy, director of science and technology services at Drury University, and his wife Mrs. Rose Roy, both trustees of the model school, supported the infrastructure of the school. Born in Durgapur, it has been Roy's long-time dream to give back to his community. Roy's vision "is to help India take its rightful place in the community of advanced nations for the 21st century.
The inauguration of Hem Sheela School took place on March 12,1995. The mission of the model school is to meet the educational needs of Indian youngsters with highly qualified teachers that create an atmoshpere dedicated to the continuing commitment of strengthening the learning environment for all students. For the dedication, Nobel Laureate, Dr. Leon Lederman said, "Congratulations on your ambitious project to build an elementary and secondary school, including a health center, library, sports complex, and computer center in India. I wish you great success in your mission.
Dr. Thomas Cech, Nobel Laureate in chemistry also said, "I am sending you my congratulations and best wishes on the occasion of the inauguration of the Hem Sheela Model School. You have worked long and hard to realize your dream of establishing an educational institution in your native India. Certainly the Hem Sheela Model School will take great pride in teaching many subjects.
The school, taught in English, reaches elementary, middle and secondary school students. It is accredited with the Central Board of Secondary Education in New Delhi. The enrollment has continued to increase since the start of the school. In 1995, the beginning enrollment for kindergarten through second grade was 350 students. The enrollment in 2008 is now 3,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12, with 120 teachers. All students (first grade and up) are required to learn the applications of emerging technologies to fulfill the needs and challenges of an emerging India in the new millennium.
Roy would like to see all students poor, middle class, and rich receive an education using hi-tech aids. The model school has a modern library, which has exposed students to multi-media teaching facilities, advanced computer laboratories, audio-visual equipment and well-equipped modern science laboratories with the latest technologies.
"The school has been growing steadily in terms of quality education, enrollment, and financial solvency, under the able leadership of the principal, Mr. Joesph Kottayarikil, who has 27 years of teaching and administrative experience and vice principal, Mrs. Subha Narayan, with 12 years of teaching experience," Roy said.
Drury played a significant role in the development of Hem Sheela Model School. John E. Moore, past president of Drury University and trustee of the model school, convinced the Steel Authority of India for an allotment of 20 acres of prime land for the construction of the school. According to Roy, he has continued to move the school forward with a positive sense of momentum. Moore dedicated the building on March 12, 1995.
Students joined with several distinguished scientists, including Nobel Laureate Dr. Johann Deisenhofer for dedication ceremonies of the Hem Sheela Model School on Jan. 1, 1995. Dr. Michael Doyle, professor of chemistry at the University of Arizona and former president of Research Corporation, dedicated the middle school on Jan. 1, 2000. The advisor for the school is Professor Ashok N. Basu, the vice chancellor of Jadavpur University, a premier university in Calcutta.
In May 2002, the Board of Trustees at Drury University agreed to make the model school a sister school of Drury. The relationship serves several purposes: It recognizes and honors Rabindra Roy and Protima, his wife, who have taught at Drury for most of their careers, it recognizes Drury's supportive role in encouraging Dr. Roy and providing policy and operating counsel for the school, it provides teams of Drury students to train and observe a system of education in another country, it provides potential opportunities for some of the best graduates of the model school to apply for admissions to Drury, and it supports the emphasis placed on global studies as a part of Drury's general education curriculum.
As part of the sister school relationship, students from Drury teach at the model school. Model school students will be able to attend Drury. Dr. Protima Roy will coordinate the student exchange program.
"Protima Roy, Lakshmi Roy, the Hem Sheela community and I deeply appreciate the kind support of Dr. John Moore and the board of trustees to build a model school for the 21st century with high standards and expectations," Roy said.