Saturday, August 15, 2009

Independence vs republic day

Have you ever wondered why Indians celebrate Independence day on Aug 15th and Republic day on Jan 26th?

India obtained independence from the British on Aug 15, 1947. But still, it took some time to draft the constitution of India. The final constitution came into effect on January 26, 1950. That's when the 'Republic of India' was truly formed. Thus the celebration of Republic Day.

India is 62

Today, August 15th, India is celebrating Independence Day.

I am really proud to having born in India - a country of ancient times with unlimited natural resources, rivers, mountains, diverse culture, intelligent people, numerous languages, religions, and truly democratic.

In order to truly understand the rich heritage of India, one must travel extensively to the breadth and length of it. To understand how rich of a country it was, until the foreigners invaded us, one must visit the northern states, especially the capital New Delhi and surrounding areas.

You too, should be proud of having Indian roots.

Happy 62nd anniversary, mother India.

Finishing touches

Today evening, I went to our class, arranged it and did some finishing touches. This year, we have couple of additional headcount in our class, and hence I had to organize the classroom to make more room and provide additional chairs.

Here's the good news about textbooks - we have electronic version of our textbook available for those interested. Did you know: starting this school year, the state of California is providing digital textbooks for students - a new initiative to save $$ (details). Last year, we were faced with shortage of textbooks and the digital solution worked (thumbs up)!!

Going over my final checklist, all's taken care of, and I would say, we are all set for 'take off'.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Landing page

Welcome 10th graders. Hope you had a good week at school. You must be slowly getting into a schedule by now. It may take couple of weeks to get into the groove.

Ok - I tried contacing all of you over the phone. Some of you I talked to; others I left a voice mail; couple of you seem to be unreachable, but I will keep trying.

This is the landing page of our class. Bookmark this page for future use. From here, you can navigate using labels that are located on the right. Click on the first label 'Announcement' and read those postings under them. Read them bottom up, so that you get continuity (scroll down to the bottom of the page, look at the date, and read them in the order of posting).

Our 10th grade class is located at the far end of the Sunday school building. Once you enter through the main door, take a left, and our class is the last one on your left.

See you on Sunday.

Three words

A teacher can have a profound impact in a student's life. As a teacher, the words spoken have a magical touch - either to make or break a student. Here is a story I came across, about a teacher who made difference in a little boy's life, by speaking the right words at the right time.

Three words

Years ago, that's what happened to me. My life was dramatically transformed because a simple three-word phrase was delivered at the right time in just the right way.

When I was three years old, my parents discovered I was totally deaf, a situation which forced them to make crucial decisions about my education. After consulting with numerous educational specialists, doctors, psychologists and parents of other deaf children, they made a decision that would forever alter my future. Instead of sending me to a private school for the deaf, they decided to "mainstream" me. All of my peers and teachers would have normal hearing.

Since I started going there in 3rd grade, I was the only deaf child at Blue Creek Elementary School in the small, quiet town of Latham, New York. From almost the first day there, the other kids taunted me and called me names mainly because of my hearing aid and the way I talked. I remember thinking, "What have I done wrong?"

My hearing aid was a rectangular box that was harnessed to my shoulders and hung from my neck like an albatross. It created a big lump on my chest with wires running from the box to my ears. Actually, the hearing aid was a miraculous little device that allowed me to pick up slight sounds and noises around me by enhancing my "residual" hearing.

I experienced great anxiety throughout Elementary school because, in addition to the problems of "fitting in" with the other students, I also struggled mightily with most of my school work. I seemed to spend every spare moment doing homework just so I could keep up. I was convinced that my parents and teachers were deeply disappointed in me because of my academic struggles. The teachers didn't know what to do with me nor did they show much interest in any of my rare accomplishments.

My hearing disability required me to constantly ask everyone, "What did he/she say?" I worried that everyone would soon grow tired of repeating everything back to me. Fitting in was so important to me that every time people around me laughed or smiled, I did the same even though I usually had no idea what was going on. This was repeated at the dinner table at home. Whenever my family had company, I felt left out because I missed the secrets, stories and punch lines. To cope with this, I always volunteered to do the dishes so that I could be excused from participating in the discussions. No wonder my hands were so soft all these years!

When the kids made fun of me, I internalized all of it. I was sure that I was a bad person; I felt I deserved their sneers. Although on the surface, I was gregarious, outgoing and "happy-go-lucky," in reality, my self-esteem was quite low. I saw myself as an ugly buck-toothed kid wearing a weird-looking box around his neck who wasn't even smart enough to keep up with the rest of the other kids. Mrs. Jordan, my 5th grade teacher, changed all of that with a simple three-word phrase. A large woman with salt and pepper hair, and twinkling brown eyes, Mrs. Jordan had a voice that boomeranged off the walls of her tiny classroom. One morning, she asked the class a question.

I read her lips from my front-row seat and immediately raised my hand. I couldn't believe it - for once I knew the answer. But, when she called on me, I was afraid. Here was an opportunity to impress the powerful teacher and show her I was worthy of her love. Maybe even impress my classmates a little. I didn't want to blow it. Despite my fears, I felt uncharacteristically confident because - for once - I was sure I had the right answer. I took a deep breath and nervously answered Mrs. Jordan's question.

I will never forget what happened next.

Her response was explosive. It startled all of us. Mrs. Jordan enthusiastically slammed her right foot on the floor and whirled her right finger in a full circle until it pointed directly at me. With sparkling eyes and a wide smile she cried, "THAT'S RIGHT STEPHEN!"

For the first time in my young life, I was an instant star. My heart burst with pride as an ear-to-ear grin filled my face. I sat a little taller in my chair and puffed out my chest. My confidence soared like never before.

I decided right then and there that I would make a place for myself in this world. No matter how many obstacles I might encounter in life, I knew I could overcome them. A simple three-word phrase delivered with incredible enthusiasm had totally transformed my young life. "THAT'S RIGHT STEPHEN!"

"From that day forward, my grades and speech improved dramatically. My popularity among my peers increased and my outlook on life did a complete turnabout. It was all because Mrs. Jordan believed in me and wasn't afraid to express it. "THAT'S RIGHT STEPHEN!"

Credits: Stephen J. Hopson

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The carpenter

Here is a story of an old carpenter.

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer, a building contractor, of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.

His employer was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but it was easy to see that his heart was no longer in his work. He had lost his enthusiasm and had resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.

When the carpenter finished his work and his boss came to inspect the new house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you."

What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.

So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points we do not give the job our best effort. Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are now living in the house we have built for ourselves. If we had realized, we would have done it differently.

Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Build wisely. It is the only life you will ever build. Even if you live it for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity.

Moral: Our life today is the result of our attitudes and choices we made in the past. Our life tomorrow will be the result of the attitudes and choices we make today.

Author unknown.

Class Trip

Additionally in our first class, let's discuss the possibility of holding a class trip, preferably on a Saturday, to visit someplace outside. I have few places in mind

I had this thought last year too, but did not materialize due to several other reasons.

Plan for first class

In our first class, we'll discuss the following:

1. Attendance - We will discuss how important is attendance for our class, how regular the classes will be held, leaving early, missing a class, providing advance notification, coming late to the class, etc..

2. Class Etiquette - I will explain the guidelines to be followed during the class, asking questions, interrupting the lecture, distracting others in the class, chewing gum inside the class, usage of cell phone, and general behavior.

3. General Session – Where to attend the general session, how it is tied into our curriculum.

4. Bala Balika Samajam - The frequency at which it is held, our class participation, who is interested, how we will sign up, etc..

5. Homework - I tend to give minimal amount of homework for this class. However, I encourage you to read the chapter prior to coming over.

6. BRS - How our class will participate in BRS, and how to turn them in. If the BRS is going to be handed out, we will utilize the electronic media to turn in those assignments. Looking back, last year, Mr. Shaju Scaria and Mrs. Sithara Jacob used to evaluate most of the BRS assignments for our Sunday school. I am not sure what the current year strategy is. As soon as I hear something about it, I'll let you know. This is something I need to follow up.

7. Christmas Program - We will check how many of you want to get involved in the Christmas program this year. Based on your feedback, let's chalk out a plan and come up with an agenda.

8. Talent Competition - I want to know what activities you are good at, so that we can get ready for the talent competition and prepare ourselves.

9. MGOCSM/Youth Activities - If you are involved in those activities, how to go about managing your time and still balance class and those activities.

10. Exams - we will have 2 exams this year; one just before the Christmas program practice begins and the other at the end of the school year. We will talk about how a sample exam would look like, and how to prepare for the exam. The dates will be announced once we get a hold of this year’s schedule.

11. Birthday Celebrations: I will compile a list of birthdays for our class and we will track whose B’day is falling in a certain month. Let’s discuss what we need to do, in order to make it cheerful.

Apart from the above, I also plan to hand out the available textbooks to those present.

Story of the feelings

Once upon a time, there was an island where all the feelings lived: Happiness, Sadness, and all of the others including Love.

One day it was announced to the feelings that the island would sink, so all repaired their boats and left. Love was the only one who stayed. Love wanted to persevere the island until the last possible moment. When the island was almost sinking, Love decided to ask for help. Richness was passing by Love in a grand boat.

Love said, "Richness, can you take me with you?"

Richness answered, "No I can't. There is a lot of gold and silver in my boat. There is no place for you here."

Love decided to ask Vanity, who was also passing by in a beautiful vessel, "Vanity, please help me!"

"I can't help you, Love. You are all wet and might damage my boat," Vanity answered.

Sadness was close by so Love asked for help, "Sadness let me go with you."

"Oh...Love, I am so sad that I need to be by myself!"

Happiness passed by Love too, but she was so happy that she did not even hear when Love called her!

Suddenly, there was a voice, "Come Love, I will take you." It was an elder. Love felt so blessed and overjoyed that he even forgot to ask the elder her name.

When they arrived at dry land, the elder went her own way. Love realizing how much he owed the elder, asked Knowledge, another elder, "Who was it that helped me?"

"It was Time", Knowledge answered.

"Time?" asked Love. "But why did Time help me?"

Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and answered, "Because only Time is capable of understanding how great Love is."

--- Author Unknown

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Job w/o work ex

As soon as you decide to put your resume on the job market, you'll find the fact:

One needs work experience to get a job;
to get a job, one need to have work experience.

Here is an interesting read with some pointers (it's a brief article) for those who are setting yourself up for such challenges. There is not a 'silver bullet' solution for those situations, but the more you know about how to get around, the better off you are.

Credits: HBR

Be thankful to God

Below is an angel poem I came across. The author believes that angels walk among us.

Angel Friends

Have you ever found a friend
That makes your heart glow
Someone who is wonderful
You feel honored to know.

Someone to laugh with, perhaps even to cry
Someone whom you love
Someone who is comfortable to be around
Someone who just seems to understand.

Someone that you think of, day and night
Someone you pray for, as you go to bed
Someone who shows up when needed
Thoughts of them are always on your mind.

Someone who shares with you, all your ups and downs
Someone who comes when called
Someone who shares your smiles and frowns
Surely you must know, God planted that seed.

These seeds God has planted, here on earth
Were planted deeply in our friends
They cannot be measured by earth's worth
Only by God's values, placed here from the start

Value those friendships, honor their decisions
Respect their feelings and not make demands
Never try to change their dreams to your own
Hold their love tightly in your hands

Refrain from anger, if you don't talk to them each day
Trust in friendship, send them a piece of your heart
For a heart can still feel loved, even if it's far away
This is how God intended love to be.

Place their memory in your heart and mind
See them for what they really are
Continue to love them for all time
Angel Friends are sent from God.

Let's be thankful to God, for those angel friends we have.

Credits: Cathey McNabb

Don't wait

This is a story that makes you see why you should live each day as if it were your last.

There was a guy that was born with cancer. A cancer that has no known cure. He was 17 years old and could die at any moment. He was always at home, under his mother's care.

One day he decided to go out, even if it was just once. He asked his mother for permission and she agreed. Walking down his block he saw many stores. Stopping at a music store he looked in and saw a very pretty girl of his own age, it was love at first sight and he walked in.

He walked up to the counter were the girl was. She smiled at him and asked "Can I help you with anything?"

The guy could only think that it was the most beautiful smile he had ever seen and stuttered, "Well, ummm, I'd like to buy a... ". He grabbed the first CD he saw and gave her the money.

"Do you want me to wrap it?" the smiling girl asked. The guy said yes and the girl went into the back room to wrap it. The guy took the wrapped CD and walked home.

From that day on he visited the music store everyday, and each day he bought a CD. And each day the girl wrapped them up and the guy stored them unopened in his closet.

He was a very shy boy, and although he tried he couldn't find the nerve to ask the girl out. His mother noticed this and encouraged him.

The next day the guy set out for the store with a determined mind, like the previous days he bought a CD and the girl wrapped it as usual. While she was busy he left his telephone on the counter and rushed out of the store.

The following day the guy didn't visit the store, and the girl called him. His mother answered the phone, wondering who it could be. It was the girl from the music store! She asked to speak with her son and his mother started crying. The girl asked her what was the matter. "Don't you know? He died yesterday." There was a long silence on the phone.

Later that afternoon the guy's mother entered his room to remember her son. She decided to start with his closet, and to her surprised she saw a big pile of unopened CDs wrapped in festive paper. She was curious because there were so many of them, and she opened one. As she tore open the package she noticed a slip of paper that said: "Hi! You're cute, I would love to meet you. Let's go out some time. Sophie"

The mother started crying as she opened another, and another, and another. Every single CD contained a slip of paper that said the same.

Moral: That's the way life is, don't wait to show those special people the way you feel, tomorrow could be too late. Manage the time you have today, to it's fullest extend.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Strength and Courage

Differnce between strength and courage

It takes strength to be firm.
It takes courage to be gentle.

It takes strength to stand guard.
It takes courage to let down your guard.

It takes strength to conquer
It takes courage to surrender.

It takes strength to be certain.
It takes courage to have doubt.

It takes strength to fit in.
It takes courage to stand out.

It takes strength to feel a friend's pain.
It takes courage to feel your own pain.

It takes strength to hide feelings.
It takes courage to show them.

It takes strength to endure abuse.
It takes courage to stop it.

It takes strength to stand alone.
It takes courage to lean on another.

It takes strength to love.
It takes courage to be loved.

It takes strength to survive.
It takes courage to live.

After reading, are you confused whether it's better to have strength or courage?

Strength is defined as the ability of a person to perform a certain act.

The term 'courage' is usually referred to, when people stand up against something that is deemed unjust and evil, knowing that the consequences of their action might lead to their death, injury or some other form of significant harm to them or their dear ones. In other words, courage means the willingness to do something despite the after effects.

Credits: Dave Griffith


Welcome aboard the 10th grade Sunday school class - non stop between now and May 2010. I have been told that all of you have been waiting impatiently for the Sunday school to re-open to have some fun. You have reached the right terminal.

First off, many of you have seen me at church and Sunday school. Even though I have not had a chance to work individually with you and this class, I am quite positve we'll turn this into an interesting year.

As soon as we step into our academic year, we will have an 'Open House' for our class. I'll use this opportunity to meet your parents and talk to them. This is to ensure that we all are on the same page as far as the Sunday school goes.

That being said, in the next few days leading to next Sunday, I'll be calling each of your homes and talking to you and your parents. I'll also tell you what is the homework for next class. "What? Homework already?" Yeah, you heard it right - the homework will be to go over our class webpage, catch up on all the news under the tag 'Announcements' pertaining to this school year PLUS get all the necessary stationary prescribed for our class. For now, click here to get all postings under Announcements. Soon, you'll have to figure out how to click on tags to get all topics under that tag.

I am planning to have a semester system for our class. The first semester will be between now and Christmas; second semester from Jan 2010 till May 2010. We will have exams at the end of each semester; dates which I'll publish once the Sunday school schedule becomes available. Your final results will be based on the cumulative grades in both semester exams (plus other criteria which we will talk about).

As soon as we meet in our first class, I'll add you to the class gmail group so that you can receive gmail notifications. That's right, it's not a typo; I meant gmail; all of us will have gmail accounts for this class.

Enjoy the rest of the Sunday school summer holidays - till we meet next Sunday.

Buckle up! Fasten your seat belts - we are just about to take off for an interesting ride!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Supply list

Supply List for 10th Grade 2009 - 2010.

We have minimal requirements when it comes to Sunday school supplies.
  1. 1 - Sunday school bag
  2. 1 - Holy Bible - New International Version
  3. 1 - Single subject spiral Notebook 80 page
  4. 1 - # 2 HB Pencil (sharpened)
  5. 1 - Blue Medium ball point pen
  6. 1 - Yellow pocket folder
  7. 1 - Eraser

We will do our best to provide text books for all students.

Use the old Sunday school bag that you already have.

Whenever we refer to Bible, we will be using the NIV.

Single subject notebook will be used for taking down notes.

#2 HB pencil will be used to mark in the textbook. We have a limited number of textbooks and students need to return them at the end of the school year.

Blue ball point pen shall be used for taking down notes.

We will be having regular assignments, and the yellow pocket folder will be used to turn in your assignments inside it.

If you have trouble getting these above items, I can shop them for you, and you can pay me the cost. If you decide to buy those things, then you need to buy the packaged bundle (last 5 items on the list) from me - it is too much of an accounting nightmare keeping track of each individual item.

Intro session

Yeserday we had an intro/ warm up session by Dr. Jacob Chacko and Diju.

Below are the highlights of what Dr. Jacob Chacko spoke:

Stressed on 4 points to keep in mind. He kept it short and simple. The 4 points were:

1. Continuous improvement - we should continuously work on those areas that we are weak on. Any subject if we work on continuously, it becomes easy and interesting.

2. Practice makes perfect - All of us, we need to improved on something. We all have some subjects that we are not very good at. Practice those subjects, and we get better at them.

3. Positive attitude - there are two words: aptitude and attitude. Aptitude is the talent we are born with; attitude is what we show outward. Everybody loves to be around people that have a positive and winning attitude. Cultivate that habit.

4. Take responsiblity - difference between teaching and learning is that the teacher is responsible for teaching, where as it is the student's responsibility to learn it. Some smart kids learn while things are taught in class.

He also mentioned about cultivating good study skills, and having good listening skills.

Diju spoke about the spiritual aspect of learning. Below are the highlights of what Diju spoke:

He taught us the song:

Blessed is the God of Israel
from everlasting to everlasting

Blessed be the God of Israel
from everlasting to everlasting

Let all the people say Amen - Amen (3)

Oh, praise the Lord.

Diju quoted Timoty 4: 1 and reminded us that we are in the presence of God.

We should keep out mouth clean by speaking clean things.

We need to have a clean speech, life, love faith and purity.

While giving God, we should give nothing but the very best to God.

The goal of the school year, according to him, is to finish the race by not falling down. The race which we start this week will continue till May of next year, and we should keep running the race.

Finally, he gave us an icon of Jesus Christ to keep, which had several prayers behind it. The prayers include:

Prayers before reading the scripture
Prayer before meal
Prayer before study
A morning prayer
Prayer before sleep.

He asked us to preserve the card by taking good care of it.

Equal opportunity employer

Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day.

Rich people can't buy more time. Scientists can't invent new minutes. And you can't save time to spend on another day.

Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you've wasted in the past, you still have an entire today.

Time is worth more than money, and by killing time, we are killing our own chances of success. Success depends upon using time wisely - by planning and setting priorities.

So, let's use the time we have on hand today, in the best possible way, to our advantage.

School re-opening

Today, for most of you, regular school is re-opening after the summer holidays.

Summer this year has been mild, and hope you enjoyed your holidays thoroughly.

Wish you another successful year at school with an opportunity to learn great new stuff, meet new people, and have lots of fun learning.

Just like how interestingly you played this past summer, focus on studying hard during the school year. Grab every opportunity you can get to sharpen your skills.

Wish you a successful journey during this school year.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Updates Aug 09

We had a sunday school teachers' meeting today afternoon.

The new Sunday school officers are:

Headmaster: Mr. George Varghese (Shaji)
Secretary: Mrs. Christina Sunil (Jaycee)

Few things we discussed today were:

Sunday school reopening on Sunday, August 16th.

A schedule will be worked out for this year, by next Sunday. It will include Bala balika samajam, other events etc.

Tom and Davina talked about having 2 general sessions - one for young kids, and other for seniors; one in the current location and another one in the Sunday school basement. Tom and Davina will lead the general sessions. Further planning on this front will be worked out by them.

There will be another Sunday school teachers' meeting on Saturday, Sept 12th at 12:00 noon at the church.

Prize distribution for students will be on Sunday, Sept 20th, 2009.

Few required textbooks will be ordered for students.

Shaju Scaria will teach the 12th grade class this year.

I will continue teaching the 10th grade. Look forward to meeting the new 10th graders.

Achen and the teachers commented on the good work done by Shaju Scaria and Sithara Jacob for the past couple of years.