Educator and Achiever: When a Noble Cause meets a Nobler Visionary
Can a teacher slapping a hapless child provoke someone to launch an entire school on her own? Joyce N Kumar did just that. This is the story of a teacher, who with her infinite determination, became not only a successful educator but also a resilient entrepreneur. The lady in question is Joyce, Directress and International Montessori Teacher Training Institute (IMTTI) – certified trainer from Bangalore. In the role of an educator, she imparts teachers’ training in the Montessori philosophy and methodology in Palakkad. This is her powerful story, as narrated to HerMoneyTalks.
“Being an entrepreneur isn’t just a job title. It isn’t just about starting a company. Entrepreneurship is a state of mind. It is about seeing connections others can’t, seizing opportunities others won’t, and forging new directions that others haven’t.”
This powerful statement by Joyce sets the mood for the rest of the evening as she opens up about her humble origins, the upheavals in her life, and her emergence as a new-age entrepreneur to contend with.
A socially responsible teacher with a heart of gold
For Joyce, it all started the day she saw her sister nursing her son’s swollen cheeks. Apparently, the boy’s teacher had slapped him for talking in the class. This incident had had a huge impact on Joyce. The role of an educator beckoned.
“It stirred in me an emotion so strong! It inspired me to think of an educational methodology that would be at least kind to children without compromising on academics,” began Joyce, on her journey as a teacher.
Joyce started exploring the various educational options and their advantages against the conventional methods. She came across Dr Maria Montessori’s scientific teaching, which focussed on preparing a child for life.
It stirred in me an emotion so strong! It inspired me to think of an educational methodology that would be at least kind to children without compromising on academics.
Prior to this, she had worked as an active participant in her husband’s Corporate PR Firm. It was only later when her passion to be the boss won over that Joyce decided to set up her own school. She took up Montessori Training and studied meticulously to become a change maker.
When the world conspires to make it happen
Finances and a campus were the immediate concerns that Joyce had to face. She began her journey from the living room of her rented house. With immense support from her family and friends, she converted her farm-house like space into an educational building in 2010.
My husband brought some T-stands and installed swings and some play things, while a friend of his printed all the stationery as a gift.
Joyce’s sister came forward to invest in the school materials. Her family friends came home with their carpentry set and built a beautiful tree house-slippy slide. “My husband brought some T-stands and installed swings and some play things, while a friend of his printed all the stationery as a gift,” shares Joyce happily.
Joyce began to relish the role of an educator. “My experiences in my earlier avatars were definitely a morale-booster,” adds the educator-cum-entrepreneur. She firmly believes that if we strategize our objective, then dedication, commitment, and hard work will help us to succeed.
Fortune favors the brave and pampers the resilient
In June 2010, Joyce opened her school with baby steps “I was very clear from the beginning to invest on unavoidable necessities only and decided to cut all extravagant spending,” she reveals on her struggles as a rookie entrepreneur. All fees collected were reinvested in materials that were brought in phases. “The only challenge was that none of us took any salaries,” rues Joyce.
In 2015, we had to vacate the premises because the landlord wanted the house and we got a very short notice.
In the second year of her journey, Joyce had 30 children. Getting Montessori-trained teachers was an uphill task. Expanding the role of an educator, she then decided to train her own teachers. Joyce invested quite a huge sum with an International Institute to set up their study center in her school premises.
“In 2015, we had to vacate the premises because the landlord wanted the house and we got a very short notice,” reveals Joyce on her hard times as an entrepreneur. House hunting in turn became hectic and Joyce decided to stop taking admissions. To her surprise, some parents came forward and paid the advance amount for a new space. Joyce restarted her mission once again with renewed enthusiasm and will power. From then, she has not looked back.
An educator’s take on money, women, and entrepreneurship
“Financial independence injects freedom into a woman’s life. If I want to go out for a coffee, I wouldn’t like to wait for my hubby to pay for it. Secondly, no eventuality should leave me on the road side,” explains Joyce, her vision and message crystal clear.
She opines that women need a moral and solid support system to succeed in life and business.
Joyce has three straightforward hacks for women entrepreneurs:
(1) Have a conviction in your business model
(2) Do your homework well; do a SWOT analysis
(3) Decide the time for accelerating and braking at appropriate junctures
Joyce was nominated as Director on the Board of Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) Bangalore and as Secretary- DIYA (All India Association of Masons’ Wives, Bangalore Wing).
With her affectionate love and care, she has turned every cranky tiny tot at her school into a gem, and taught them the bigger lessons of courtesy and grace. Even parents were motivated by their children’s wonderful behavior and Joyce’s vision of education has been the cynosure of all eyes around.
Her future plans include providing training to teachers in rural areas of Palakkad. In collaboration with the local governing body and private sponsors, she even envisions providing Montessori education to children of all 13 panchayats free of cost.
Joyce leaves us with a parting shot that is sure to stay with us for a long time: “No matter where life takes you, don’t forget where you came from.”
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