In 1995, Drury University professors Rabindra and Protima Roy founded the Hem Sheela Model School in Durgapur, India. Drury’s sister school is a private K-12 institution that educates 3,350 students from all over India.
Now, thanks to donations from the Chairman of Drury’s Board of Trustees John Beuerlein and his wife Crystal, Hem Sheela Model School is getting a state-of-the-art recreation facility, a high-tech science laboratory including biotechnology, a chemistry laboratory, a new library, and an advanced computer laboratory. The Drs. Roy, Beuerlein, and John’s sister Jennifer all traveled to India over the 2009 holidays to dedicate the new facilities. Drury’s Vice-President for Alumni and Development Dr. Krystal Compas and Drury’s Associate Dean for International Programs Michael Thomas were also in Durgapur to take part in the dedication ceremonies.
The crown jewel of the improvements is the 100,000 square foot recreation facility that will feature a volleyball court, a basketball gym, a swimming pool and an auditorium with a 1,500-seat capacity. Currently, the only physical education opportunities for Hem Sheela students are outdoor soccer and track.
“This magnificent arena will help to develop complete human beings by combining excellence in academics with facilities that develop the mind, body and soul,” says Dr. Rabindra Roy, Drury professor of chemistry. “This state-of-the-art facility will be used throughout the year, not only by Hem Sheela students, but also for nationwide competitions with other schools.”
In addition to the new facilities at Hem Sheela, the Drury contingent will also dedicate a new building for the Protima Child and Woman Development Center. Founded by the Roys in 2007 in a village about seven miles from Hem Sheela, the Protima Child and Woman Development Center, also known as the tribal school, has been housed in an open-air, one-room structure with no running water or electricity. The new facility will feature six rooms for kindergarten-through-fourth grade students along with a teacher’s room and restrooms. This has been made possible by a financial contribution from Mr. John and Mrs. Crystal Beuerlein.
The tribal school currently serves about 150 students, but will expand to 250 students as the school attracts children from other villages. The building is designed so that it can be expanded to a second story to be used for a secondary school in the future. Everything is provided for the students attending the tribal school including, books, uniforms, lunch money, teachers’ salaries, student health check-ups and medicines.
Professor Rabindra Roy has taught chemistry at Drury for nearly 44 years, and his wife Protima has been teaching science education at the university since 1975. Years ago, Professor Roy’s father asked him for $200 to fix the straw roof of a two-room, mud walled school in Durgapur. That first donation sparked the dream for the Roys of building a school on a former rice paddy his father owned. By living frugally, the Roys saved $1 million and then doubled it by following investment advice. Now, Hem Sheela is self-sufficient with students paying just $14 a month in tuition.
“We both believe passionately in education,” says Rabindra Roy. “And we want more young people in India to have the kind of opportunities that children in America have.”