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WHo is a mentor?

The following passage was read out on Founders Day 2008 on behalf of Jayanti Tambe, who was the Executive Director, Early Childhood Education, UCLA at the time. She is one of our erstwhile Mentors, who continues to spark the curiosity and challenge the thinking of young minds today as a full-time professor of Early Child Development at De Anza College, in Cupertino, California. She is a continuous source of inspiration for all our Mentors. 

In Greek mythology, Mentor was the son of Alcumus and, in his old age, a friend of Odysseus. When Odysseus left for the Trojan War he placed Mentor in charge of his son, Telemachus, and of his palace. When Athena visited Telemachus she took the disguise of Mentor to hide herself from the suitors of Telemachus' mother Penelope. As Mentor, the goddess encourages Telemachus to stand up against the suitors and to go abroad in order to learn about his father. This is the online definition of the word "mentor".

Here is my definition and description of the word mentor: Srini, whom you children refer to as "Srini Sir" has been my mentor in this long journey of mine as an educator. I met Srini at a workshop in 1995. Many years have passed since then. He has grown; GEAR has grown; and I have grown. To me, Srini epitomizes Martin Luther King's "I have a dream..." Srini had a dream: A dream to build a great school. And he achieved his dream. Look at your school. It is the fruit of your Srini Sir's hard work, dedication to education and passion for learning.

Mentors don't just have dreams; they inspire others to have dreams too. I too had a dream: A dream of becoming a good teacher. Srini stood by me, encouraged me, spurred me on and gave me wings to fly. And I flew. Today, I have a Master's Degree in Human Development and I am enrolled in a PhD program in education. I am the director of a school program at the prestigious Stanford University. I continue to teach children, both young and old and I pass on the flame of learning that was kindled in me. I have grown. And I continue to grow. All this has been possible because of a great mentor and a wonderful friend: Srini. On this joyous occasion, I want to wish Srini a wonderful birthday, with many many more to come. Srini, this quote reminds me of you: "Who is a mentor? Someone whose hindsight can become your foresight." Thank you for being my foresight. Today, I look towards the horizon because I had you standing there behind me.


Thank You.

Jayanti Tambe

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