A mediocre teacher explains.. A great teacher inspires

Mr. Roderick Gilbert

Mr. Roderick Gilbert (2004 – 2008)

None will disagree that it is too early to attempt to evaluate Mr. Gilbert’s tenure of four and half years as Trinity’s Principal. It is best at this time to enumerate what he attempted to do.┬áMr. Gilbert came to Trinity immediately from an Educational Consultancy job which tended over the South Asian Region. From 1969 he had worked as a teacher in various schools in Western India culminating in the Principal-ship of an International residential school in the Nilgiri Hills in South India from 1987 to 1995.

He was born and educated in India at Breek’s school a few years after David Paynter. He graduated in England and returned to India as a teacher. He joined Boys’ Town Nasik Maharashtra where an enlightened Parsee Headmaster inspired him to see education as a much wider concept than classroom “chalk and talk”. This was a boarding School which paid great attention to less-performing children. Gilbert encouraged outdoor activities and the school boarding encouraged the students on to a unique sense of inter-dependence uncoloured by caste, creed or family status. It is the experience in this school that coloured Gilbert’s few years at Trinity 35 years later.

Roderick Gilbert (he preferred to be known as Rod) came to Trinity in 2004 with his charming wife Ruthie and the last of his five children, Ande. His entire family formed close links with Trinity and in fact his daughter Prilla was married to her English Groom in the Chapel in February 2007.

One of the remits given to Gilbert by the Board of governors was to increase and develop the boarding at Trinity which had been declining for a number of years. Gilbert threw himself into this with enthusiasm, along with Ruthie – both of whom had themselves come through boarding schools, she in Africa and the UK and he in India. All their children had had their entire education in boarding schools, so they had personal experience both from a parent’s point as well as from a teacher’s. Ruthie although never a member of staff, volunteered to upgrade the physical aspects of dormitory life, putting up curtains, purchasing comfortable chairs and games for the common rooms thus making the sparse rooms look more homely. Gilbert, meanwhile set about couples, and families to be in charge of dorms (again to improve the homeliness of the dorms). He gradually organised enough space to enable each dorm to be drawn from just one Grade. From his wide experience he knew that one of the most important aspects of boarding life was to build confidence in both the boys and the parents that there would be minimum bullying of their children while in the boarding. The first step to this was to ensure that only boys of the same age boarded together. As a direct result of this new policy, the boarding gradually grew to almost double its size by 2008. By the time Gilbert left, he had re-started Valesca Reimann Dorm and created two new dormitories, one of which was named Ireland Jones by the boys themselves.

In other activities Gilbert started the middle school library and a librarian was appointed to the Junior School. He believed the library was a place to discover knowledge for oneself. He began a process of computerisation of the library and internet access for senior students. There was a gradual increase in the number of ‘A’ level passes and those who gained entry into Universities. He developed the careers Department and appointed an officer to be totally responsible for guiding parents and students. He was able to negotiate with CIMA a first- in the world reduction in fees for students to study CIMA while still at school. This has since been known as “The Trinity Model” in the CIMA world, other courses such as BCS, CIM, SAT and sports science were also introduced.

In school administration he introduced management meetings to the senior staff and increased their input in decision making. He strengthened the middle school as an independent unit and appointed a Head. He computerised the administration offices and introduced a new computer system to the Accounts Department. He was able to rationalise and re-organise staff salaries in line with Government regulations. He valued the contribution of the Parent Teacher Association and listened to their opinions with great respect. While he experienced a rough ride with some of the Old Boys he made several lasting friendships. In the area of games Gilbert introduced gymnastics. He tried to establish a middle school sports ground in Lady Gordon’s property. He could not however complete this project. He linked this property with the rest of the school by a bridge. He secured the Title Deed for Asgiriya with the help of many Old Boys.

“Learn to say sorry and never end it with a BUT”

 

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