Avinya Foundation

#34 How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria?

Points if you sang along or even knew the title came from a musical. It’s from Sound of Music and the song ends with this line “How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?” Seems beautiful but impossible, yes? That’s how I felt when Anju asked me a simple question “Dee, How was the Avurudu Celebration? How were our kids?”

As you all would have read last week and seen on our social media, we at Avinya Academy Bandaragama had our Avurudu celebration on our last day of term. Anju was sorely missed but doing more important things in the land of scones, Harry Potter and Queen (the band).

Trying to describe how the kids were, was an impossible task. We began our journey with these kids at the end of January (yes, to teachers… their students will forever be referred to as his/her kids). The intended students I saw throughout our admissions process in November, the ones who were too shy to look at us to answer a question, were absolutely running the show during our celebration in April.


Here at Avinya, we have a different approach to “teaching”, in fact there is none. We believe in planting seeds and empowering our students to blossom on their own merit. We use Project Based Learning to inculcate 21st century skills that students need to excel at work and in life (critical thinking, teamwork, accountability, digital literacy, communication etc). In term 1 our students have explored sustainability, sense of fashion and how to dress appropriately, importance of digging deep and expressing themselves, fundamentals in digital literacy and digital citizenship. They have also actively organized events, understood the importance of manual labour, learnt about actions and consequences. The team of educators have seen these kids -our kids- become a better version of whom they used to be while retaining their uniqueness.


None of which I have mentioned above can be assessed or evaluated in a standardized test – that most of us have grown up with. Isn’t that saying something?


Back to answering Anju’s question: The celebration went great! You know you have accomplished your role as an educator when you are no longer needed by your students. That’s what it felt like for our amazing team of educators. The students were divided into committees (games, sirith virith, music and sounds, decorations etc). Each committee took their roles very seriously and our premises looked, felt and sounded warm and welcoming.


To Anju’s second part of the question “How were our kids?” They were such a pride to watch! From planning to prepping, to execution, the attention to detail and watching the thought process evolve was like having a front row seat to a broadway show (in case you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a bit of a show tunes nerd). It could not be assessed, it was an experience and a feeling that needed to be felt.


Less words and more pictures – please see below a video put together by one of our very own students. Thanks Devmika! (I’m thinking of recruiting him for our social media team! Sorry Vihan, you’re out 😝)

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Before you go!

Anju may be halfway across the world but she still has Avinya on her mind. The weekly update would be incomplete without a dash and spritz of Anju 🙂


As we dust off Term 1 and start preparations for Term 2, we emerge older and wiser even though we are young. We are still in our early days, but our mission is to provide students with practical skills and knowledge and by giving them access to skills and knowledge that are in high demand, we hope to give students the confidence and abilities they need to pursue their career aspirations and improve their lives. It is truly humbling to be a part of an organization that is making such a positive impact.


Now as we spend time on regrouping and consolidating we have some time to reminisce and improve. For all of us, Avinya is not just a job, it is a passion.


Amidst all this nostalgia, being away has its own advantages. For one, I get to see the world from a different perspective. Seeing the sunrise from mid-air is an experience like no other. It’s a breathtaking sight that puts things into perspective. It reminds me of how small we really are, and how insignificant our problems can be in the grand scheme of things.


This has also given me the opportunity to prepare for my upcoming session at IATEFL. IATEFL is a major conference for English language teachers from around the world. I am excited to be a part of this and take back everything I learn to my Avinya family (immediate and extended :))


My topic for the session is “Managing and Motivating Teaching Teams for Excellent Results.” It’s a subject that is close to my heart, as it’s something that I’ve been mulling over a lot. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trialing out a few things with my willing colleagues, and it’s given me much food for thought.In my session, I plan to share some of the techniques and strategies that I’ve used over the years to manage and motivate my own teaching team. Watch out for this in the next few blogs 🙂


Wishing everyone a prosperous Sinhala and Tamil New Year from the Avinya Family