On Equal Ground: Jayne Jayanti Nadarajoo, Women Entrepreneur Awards (WEA) 2018 Pulsar Category Winner

Emerging as a WEA Pulsar Category Winner for 2018, Jayne Jayanti Nadarajoo embraces an inclusive approach to education that aims to surpass cultural and academic boundaries. She founded the Melbourne Specialist International School (MSIS) in 2014, a school that utilises an innovative model for teaching students with learning disabilities.

 

“Learn from every experience to make the next one better. Don’t be afraid to be successful and don’t be afraid to fail. “

Melbourne Specialist International School (MSIS) was founded by Jayne Jayanti Nadarajoo in 2014. It opened its doors to students in November 2014, offering a unique visual arts-inspired curriculum that uses the Victorian Foundation to Year 10 Curriculum as a guide.

Sited in the Loewen cluster in Dempsey, MSIS offers a unique and innovative model for teaching students with intellectual and multiple disabilities. It adopts a child-centred approach where teachers use the power of concrete experiences mediated through dance, drama, music and visual arts as a way to immerse its students in a deeply engaging learning environment. This enables the teachers to more readily facilitate each student’s development in literacy, numeracy and living skill goals.

MSIS also supports students with a range of services delivered by the therapy team, which includes specially qualified members of staff such as a clinical psychologist, an art therapist, swim coaches, music teacher, occupational therapist and speech and language therapist, dance teacher, physiotherapist, and drama teacher.

MSIS requires many resources in terms of members of staff and infrastructure to be able to offer such a diverse and rich programme. It looks to the future with clear directions in place to offer innovative programmes to its students, and its founder is working towards a purpose-built permanent school site as part of its growth and expansion plan.

From her adolescent years, Jayne learned what it meant to be responsible. Her father passed away when she was just 11 years old, leaving behind her siblings and mother. Life as she knew it changed overnight — she and her elder sister had to assume larger roles and take care of chores around the house, while her mother became the sole breadwinner of the family.
After completing her O Levels, Jayne had to stop school full-time to help with the family income by becoming a teaching assistant at a school on Coronation Road. There, she was exposed to the expat community, which broadened her perspective and gave her a sense of how education could be different from that which she went through.

Resolved to giving the next generation of children a more holistic learning experience, Jayne established her first company in education in 1999. Her love for education and her desire to meet all the needs of students — including those with learning difficulties — then led to the launch of Melbourne Specialist International School (MSIS) in 2014. Now 49, the founding director of MSIS is working harder than ever to give equal opportunities to all students, regardless of their capabilities and cultural backgrounds.

From the outset, what was your mission or goal in life and in business?

To have a good balance in personal and academic success. There is nothing wrong with Singapore’s education system, but I want to do it differently. I want teachers who can inspire students and provide opportunities for them to make mistakes and learn from them rather than be punished. I want teachers who are more broad-based thinkers, as opposed to those who teach to test.

To what would you attribute the success of the schools?

Not generalising every child and taking time to understand their different cultural backgrounds and needs. When you are a melting pot like Singapore, you have to push yourself to gain real world knowledge to understand how others live. You cannot assume everyone just fits in, you want to help those who can’t by providing the transition and a place which is just as welcoming and supportive.

When have you been most satisfied in your life?

My children give me a lot of joy, they give me my biggest sense of achievement. I am very blessed that they have been supportive in the years that I had to work long hours. To me, they are the only people in the world who always forgive you and accept you. That is the beauty of motherhood. You will always be the mum and no one can take that away from you.

What advice would you offer the budding entrepreneur?

Learn from every experience to make the next one better. It doesn’t have to be failures, learn from successes too. Use the success to do better and make a difference; use the failure to work and live better. Don’t be afraid to be successful and don’t be afraid to fail. We often hear, “My failure brought me this or that”, but remember, your success brought you just as much.

 

The WEA 2019 is calling for submissions until 31 January 2019. Apply now and read more stories that celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit of women at wea-sg.com!

Article originally published in Women Entrepreneur Awards.

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