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“If you were tasked with re-thinking the educational system, what would it look like?” This question drew nothing but silence, but it was the calm before the storm.  A quiet dinner with friends turned into discussions on politics, and the downward spiral of math and science literacy of U.S. students on the international stage. What followed was a tsunami of ideas.

My initial suggestion was to emulate the educational system in Finland.  In addition to producing the world’s greatest rally racecar drivers, Finland has also been in the news for having the best educational system in the world. Part of their success is attributed to a non-competitive learning environment, low student/teacher ratio, and non-standardized testing methods which has enabled them to achieve high scores on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test.

A big question is always “Can this system be implemented in the U.S.?” The achievements of an educational system from a country the size of Wisconsin might not have similar results when the implementation scale increases.

My family has been in the educational business for over two decades. Being an educator myself, this idea of re-thinking an educational system was quite exciting.  So, back at the dinner table, several days later, I asked my fiancé Vanessa if she would support an idea of opening a school that incorporated all our findings from the past few years.

In September 2013, we are ready to launch Samudre Academy with grades Pre-Kindergarten – 5th grade followed with higher-grade levels in subsequent years. We did our research, scratched our heads quite a few times, engaged the combined expertise of our board members and as a result we designed an educational concept that is innovative, incorporates strategies of successful educational systems, and is a first for the Hampton Roads area.

Samudre Academy is built on the following foundations:

  1. We believe a year-round school schedule minimizes disruptions in the learning cycle and distributes the workload throughout the year.  Students enjoy a two-week break for every six weeks of school.
  2. We believe in providing individual attention to each student by providing an innovative curriculum, an environment that maintains a low student/teacher ratio, flexibility in teaching and non-centralized student evaluations.
  3. We believe in comprehensive academics that include development of ethical behaviors, so that our students are well-grounded and responsible members of society in all aspects.
  4. We value our teachers and believe that they should be highly qualified and committed to their art.  Our teachers work independently and enjoy full autonomy in the classroom.
  5. We believe that excessive standardized testing is harmful to the learning environment.  Instead, the student assessments, learning outcomes and performance evaluations are encouraging and supportive by nature.
  6. We believe that an education system should be flexible.  Teachers and students who enjoy autonomy in their learning process perform well.
  7. We believe that the learning process and teachers should be valued and appreciated.

As far as Vanessa’s response to this undertaking? Overwhelmingly positive! “Furthermore” she exclaimed, “we need a great place to send our twelve kids.” Both of us come from big families so we tease each other about having a dozen children.

Dr. Sandeep Samudre
President and CEO

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