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Seeds to Grow - Calcutta Emmanuel School

Listen to Probhita tell the story of Calcutta Emmanuel School.


Our connection to Ambleside Schools started with my homeschool instruction with Maryellen St. Cyr and mentoring with Susan Carrion. We connected through my research to find homeschooling resources, and they provided me with the gift of tutelage and the knowledge of the Charlotte Mason philosophy and Ambleside Method.


In 1978, my mother and father had started a Christian school in India called The Calcutta Emmanuel School. Originally, they had no intention to start a school. My father had a counseling center and there were always poor children playing outside on the street and making so much noise. It drew his attention, and the school became an answer to the needs of these children.


I began to share what I was learning about Ambleside, and eventually the school decided to adopt the Ambleside Method. Ambleside Schools International provided us with regular mentoring, access to the same online curriculum and resources that all Ambleside schools have and waived almost the entire initial costs for us to become an official Ambleside Member School. It was amazing. The school primarily functions on donations so every academic year is a miracle.


At Calcutta Emmanuel School, only the poorest of the poor students can be admitted. We knew early on that we had to have two criteria … confirm that each family was indeed the poorest of the poor and only taking one child from each family.


We had to carry out extensive interviews, and we would actually have some families say they are poor just to get in the school. They were so desperate to get their child this education. It’s heartbreaking for us to say.


Originally, it was a completely free school, and it still is for most of the children. Now we take a small donation of say $10 a month or less, and it’s just enough to provide the families with a sense of self-respect. Nothing compares to the value of an Ambleside education.


And here in Calcutta, the children are so appreciative. They understand the privilege of this education and they get meals — lunch and tea — plus uniforms, their schoolbooks, and supplies.


In our Indian curriculum, it’s all about cramming and memorizing for exams. There’s no relationship with the subject. The Ambleside Method is different because the focus is so much on understanding and relationship, it’s really very different. Even for the teachers, it’s a whole new experience. A lot of the new teachers in their Internship Program training are in tears because they too wished they’d learned this way.


Most important is that we are an English-speaking school. In essence, when children come into Pre-K, they know not a word of English, and they must learn the language as they learn all these basic subjects. But it’s fascinating how quickly they do learn. By the time they get to eighth grade, they’re speaking fluently in English.


Learning English will make all the difference to our students. And they get to experience the rich books that are an integral part of the Ambleside curriculum. Speaking English will result in attending college, job opportunities, better interaction with people. The value of an Ambleside Education is truly life changing.


The school started out as being a Christian school, and although we are accredited with the state, we make it very clear to the parents that the Bible is going to be taught, and they have no objections whatsoever. We let them know that a chapel is done every morning, there’s scripture and prayer and it’s in Jesus’ name. We’ve had so many students come to the Lord in the school, it’s really very precious.


We now have 469 students in Pre-K through 12, and our students are growing and genuinely receiving a living education.

Dear Friends,


Students, families, and schools need different types of seeds that give them the best chance of successfully reproducing and growing.


At Ambleside Schools International, we believe that an Ambleside education — A Living Education — is a seed that can flourish, change lives, and renew Christian education.


To sustain Ambleside’s mission, we depend on donations from friends like you. Ambleside derives 10% of our revenue from training and curriculum fees and another 57% from Member School and homeschool dues. We depend upon generous contributions from friends like you for the rest of our operating funds — fully one third of our annual revenues.


This story from one of our Member Schools, Calcutta Emmanuel School, is testimony to the need for our support, and this heart-warming narrative shows what a gift to Ambleside can provide. Through our Ambleside Seed initiative, we are sowing previously unimagined opportunities for students and families across the world.


We believe this effort is a key component of our mission and trust it is also one of yours. We pray that you share our calling to provide A Living Education to all, including the poorest of the poor, and humbly ask for a generous gift to ensure we have the operating funds we need to continue this important work.


God bless you and your family during this season, and thank you for coming alongside this important outreach that will provide these new schools with seeds to grow.

This story was shared by Probhita Pavamani Shew