September 1929-June 2016
She came to DPS Mathura Road as a young but still experienced teacher, bringing with her the innovations she had learned in early childhood education in England where she went off as a slip of a girl, aboard a ship.
And that is how she lived her life. Aboard a ship, unafraid of the unknown. Setting her sights always ahead, looking for adventure and new experiences.
She grabbed the opportunity to teach at DPS, even though the classrooms were still in tents. Yes, her father, Dr. K.C. Khanna was the principal, but neither she nor he, ever took unfair advantage of that fact. It was here that she learned what is now touted as the catch phrase ‘child-centered learning’. She knew and practised it then, always listening to children, always with an ear, a hand a shoulder ready for that one child who needed it. And when she found that there was a particular section of such children who were under served, she and her friend, Adrienne Jackson, started the Okhla School for mentally challenged children.
When Pran Chopra, her husband, became the first Indian Chief Editor of The Statesman, Calcutta, and she had to give up her job, she took up voluntary work with the Women’s Voluntary Service, working with women and children in need.
And then, came a difficult chapter in her life. Her husband resigned from the newspaper, challenged the management and took them to court for breach of contract and interference in editorial content. The family moved back to Delhi. There was no money, no job and her husband was fighting a case in Calcutta. She turned back to education taking up a teaching post in St. Colomba’s School. And when the magazine that Pran Chopra started ran into financial trouble, she became its business manager, took on paying guests in the house and began to build a home in Chandigarh on weekends so that the family would have its own home. It is credit to her and only to her that her daughters don’t recall that time as being strained or difficult. They wanted for nothing.
Later, she taught in the British School in Malaysia and then in Delhi as the family moved.
Once she retired from her job, she continued teaching, this time voluntarily with Vidya, developing syllabuses and training teachers which she continued in between bouts of failing health, well into her 80’s.
At 75, she decided to pursue another passion and took up painting. She held her first exhibition at the Ashoka Hotel where she had a sold out show!
Her engagement with the theatre, art and music scene in Delhi continued to the last possible day. And when she decided to call it quits, she made one final gesture of giving that has defined her through her life. She donated her beautiful, wise eyes, so someone else would see the beautiful world she held so dear.
We salute you Sarojine Chopra.
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