Back To School

Presenting to you, Kajal P. Moosa, devoted teacher, passionate dancer, spirited performer, dynamic anchor, and fashion model & last but not the least, the Head of Kindergarten section, Rajagiri Public School, Doha, Qatar.

For Kajal, teaching is her life’s passion. From an early age, all she dreamt of was being a teacher and for the last two decades, she has been instructing and guiding thousands of children through the successful completion from kindergarten to move on to higher grades. Kajal’s schooling mindset is that every kid should be familiarised with the instruments they need to demonstrate their own learning style. She also leaves plenty of room to celebrate the students’ imaginations with activities and hands-on experiences. Kajal has been the Head of Kindergarten for the last seven years.

Join us in conversation with Kajal P. Moosa. Let’s discover together her journey into the world of education. Let’s find out what made her the woman she is today. 

A conversation with Chippy & Kajal P. Moosa,
Head of Kindergarten, Rajagiri Public School, Doha, Qatar.

Chippy————Hey Kajal, Happy New Year. How is the new year treating you?
KajalIt has been so busy since the new year. I don’t know what to say. I have had my mom and brother visit me, which is always a happy time. And I am sure it’s definitely going to be a year full of surprises. 
ChippyGreat to know you had a good start. Let’s dive in. Who is Kajal today?
KajalA difficult question, nonetheless an excellent question to start with. First, let me just say it out loud, I’m content with my life. I feel that now I have become a responsible person. At this point in my life, I know I influence people, especially colleagues, and family.  I’m also a person who enjoys being loved and to be loved. 
ChippyAnd professionally, how would you say who you are?
KajalProfessionally, I reached what I dreamt of what I wanted to be. I had many dreams, my first dream was to become a teacher, and my passion was dance. Today I can say, I am a teacher, a mentor,  a dancer, a student, occasional model and anchor. I have many hats that I pull off. 
ChippyYou said you had many dreams. 
KajalYeah, a few. At the beginning, I wished to be a teacher. I used to imitate being a teacher wearing a sari, a handbag on the shoulder with a red pen in hand and taking out our old notebooks and markings and correcting. I can confidently say I always wished to be a teacher. That was my first dream, though it changed a lot afterwards.

During fifth or sixth grade, I thought of becoming a lawyer. Then, I don’t know whether you remember Chippy, during eighth or ninth grade, I had a diary, where I used to do a lot of designing. So that time I wish to become a fashion designer. Later there  was a time when MBA was very popular, so I wish to pursue MBA. So it kept changing every now and then. 
ChippyAnd dance?  Did you learn dance professionally? Who was your guru?
Kajal90% I can say I studied on my own because I belong to a minority group and there were a lot of restrictions to learning dance, which is against our rules. So it was extremely difficult to learn privately. But in school, I got a lot of opportunities. My teachers at school recognised my talent, and I got a lot of opportunities there. 

When I advanced to college I found out that I love doing choreography. After a few events, I was amazed and said to myself, ‘Oh my God, I did this’. I felt proud of my work and I for the first time felt I have a talent. . Yeah, it was you know, that opportunity, whatever it is. I took it as a challenge and made it work for me. My family supported me, especially my mom. Only because of that I did it.
Chippy————After school…
KajalI completed two years of Pre- Degree and later three years of Bachelor of Arts in History. 
ChippyDuring these five years, you were involved in all major and minor cultural events  and competitions on behalf of your college. Tell me more about that.
KajalOh Yeah, I still remember my first dance. It was the pre-degree freshers Day event held at AVM Hall in UC college Aluva. I was nervous, confused, and tensed about how the audience would react. When I was at the back stage I heard  shouting, howling, for other programs before my scheduled slot. So I was expecting the same when my turn came.

As soon as I walked on stage, I felt complete silence. Music was on and I danced to my heart’s content and I sensed the same from my audience, they clapped along with my beats and at the end, I heard the whole hall cheering for me, I can still hear the applause I got that day. It was unbelievable to me. I was literally in tears.

My classmates, batch-mates, seniors, teachers, everyone appreciated my performance  and that was the beginning of my dance life and choreography for the next five years. I didn’t turn back. Dance groups, drama groups, and many arts groups started reaching out to me, they invited me to different programs. And I started choreographing and later entered university competitions. Thinking about those moments still gives me goosebumps.
ChippyYou got married early. How did that change your course of life?
KajalI belong to a traditional family, and they reckon getting married early is very significant. But my family promised me marriage solely after my graduation. But suddenly, this marriage proposal came. And my father told me, ‘Kajal, let them come. You don’t have to commit to anything. Meet. the man, talk to him, and you decide.’ I said okay. I was very excited and also nervous at the same time. One day they came to meet me, and all I remember is dressing up, walking towards a man with a tray serving tea. We were allowed to speak to each other for fifteen minutes. And that changed me. Of course, we cannot understand a person in five to ten minutes, but somehow I felt he was the right man for me. I did sense I would be safe with him. 
ChippyWhat was so special about him?
KajalShan. He was different. His thinking deck was different, not like any other person I have met. Yeah, from that chat itself, I understood his reflections on matters were diverse. I come from a family where everyone was doing business. I require somebody who comes from a family who gives importance to education. He was educated, an aeronautical engineer by profession. During our conversation, we agreed on completing my studies, he was encouraging and that made it easy for me to make a decision.  I said yes to my father and they fixed the dates and we got engaged and then married. 
ChippyUp until now, you have lived all your life in a small town in Kerala. You had to move away, far away from everything you know and understand, your family, friends and places you are familiar with. How did this affect you? 
KajalThat’s true. Completely. I finished my graduation after marriage. And in 2001, moved to Qatar to be with my husband. New beginning with Shan. I was excited about the new phase of my life. Shan’s sisters were settled in Qatar, so it was very easy for me. When I arrived, they welcomed me warmly. So it was a very smooth transition. And within two weeks, I found myself working. I joined as a teacher in a school here. 
ChippyJust like that. That’s incredible. How did you land the job?  
KajalAfter my arrival, I heard of a school that just opened its door a few months back. I approached the Principal and told him, ‘I just landed from India. I completed my graduation, I just finished my exam and I’m here. I need a job.’ The fact  was that I didn’t know much about anything. Yeah, that’s the truth. Because of that I was very confident. I felt that I’m good. So I just approached the Principal. First, the principal was impressed with me and as I showed my cultural certificates, he said, ‘we have a vacancy in a Kindergarten. I want you also to take part in cultural activities for the school’. I was waiting for an opportunity to teach somebody to perform. And I joined as a Kindergarten Teacher there. You know, I was Bindass. That’s how I landed my first job.
ChippyThat’s impressive. Sheer confidence.
KajalDuring my tenure with the school, I was very active organizing, choreographing, and putting up shows for the school and that clicked very well. So from the beginning, I got a name for myself at school. So yeah, that was the beginning of my career as such, without any Kindergarten qualification, I joined and I completed one year at Shantiniketan School in Qatar.
Chippy————Your dream of becoming a teacher is now a reality. What was it like the first time walking into a classroom?
KajalI do not have any qualifications as a Kindergarten Teacher. So when I entered the class, I saw a lot of tiny faces. I said to myself, ‘my God, I’m going to teach these small little kids! It’s really happening.’ And then one month passed, I really understood how to tackle, handle and be good with kids, how to take care of them, and how to teach them. And slowly I understood that of course, this is my passion more than anything else. I was certain, I chose the right profession. So, without knowing how to teach, I started teaching. Like that I completed one year. By the time I was pregnant with my first child. 
ChippyBeing a mother is a blessing. 
KajalOf course, I was thrilled. I had to resign from my position as my morning sickness was getting worse. After resigning I went back to India. After my delivery, I came back with my baby, Nargis. Shan’s sister had a play school so they took care of her when I went to work. So I was blessed to have a family around who was there to support me. We were close, we were neighbors. So it was very easy for me to just give my baby girl and go to work. I could not have done it without my extended family’s support, timely help and care. Above all Shan was understanding and he accepted my potential and supported me everytime.
ChippyThat was awesome. So now what’s ahead for you?
KajalTwo months after my girl Nargis was born, I started applying for jobs. I tried in one of the top schools in Qatar. Again, it was a shock for me,as I didn’t have much experience and qualification. They called me for the interview and  were very impressed. And there they told me to do a small performance. All really wanted to see my performance rather than my teaching. So they were really impressed and got my offer letter to join. It was a dream to join MES. There I saw my career and my tasks had come to a different level. Because lots and lots of associations were connected with the new school. And in my previous school, there were only 500 students. The new one had more than 10,000 students. 
ChippyIt’s more like a university.
KajalYeah, MES School, it was the biggest. In kindergarten itself we had nearly 1000 kids. First year, I was just a Kindergarten Teacher.I was not into any other programs,but I was waiting for the right time. However, I got an opportunity to show my talent during our Teacher’s day. It was a solid performance of mine and I performed in front of 600 teachers and Management members. Again, things changed from there. Mr. Majeed who was the Programme Coordinator for the whole school was impressed with my performance, after the event he came over and congratulated me.  After that event we collaborated and worked on many events, programs  with lots of associations as well. He was a guiding star and according to his wish,  his theme, and a lot of thematic programs we did together inside and outside school, I was mainly given the responsibility of choreography. From there I went to a next level of exploring my talents, especially in my dance career. I also became the Cultural In-charge of the school.
ChippyIn MES, you were there for seven years and then you shifted. 
KajalThings started changing slowly. As I got a lot of recognition over there, internal politics started playing a part and I was not able to be myself. Management, they were the best, always supportive of  my ventures.  Lot of politics and a lot of ego issues all came up. And I really thought that it’s time to move on, rather than making things complicated, I was at MES Indian School for seven years, one of the biggest schools and the oldest schools of Qatar. I am glad I worked there. Fond memories.
ChippySo you decided to move…
KajalI thought of having some international experience and wanted to join an International school. Though I got a chance to teach, I didn’t continue there because my cultural activities got stagnant , did not have any space there. I came from a place where we had the opportunity to celebrate every festival and event, but in International schools, we have a lot of limitations.I realized that it’s not the right place for a person like me because I’m a person who really wants to explore and share my talents. I find happiness in dance. I want to teach the children dance. I have to involve myself, but at international school I didn’t get that opportunity. So I decided to leave from there. Then of course Indian schools are always waiting for me. I know that. Then again, I changed to another Indian school. I got an irresistible offer and joined the same school as my daughter as a Kindergarten Teacher.
ChippySo change again…
KajalIn Birla Public school I worked for 5 years in Kindergarten. I was happy there. I got enough time to associate with other organizations and I was happy so life was going smoothly over there. And all were happy with my teaching style. During my tenure there, I made sure I  completed my Early Childhood Education Course. By this time it was becoming mandatory for Kindergarten educators to be qualified. Now, I have not only the experience but also the qualification. I also got certified from other international institutes for Pre-school Administration and also Child Psychology.
ChippyWhere did life take you from there?
KajalYes, I was there for 5 years. I had a great time there,  all were happy with my teaching, my work. All the parents were supportive, the Management was also supportive. 
ChippyI see a but coming…..
KajalNo buts, truth be told, a new opportunity knocked. One of my dear friends and colleague Ms Reshmi, she called  me aside and said, ‘Kajal, Rajagiri school is opening in Qatar, are you interested in being a Head and Coordinator for Kindergarten?’ My colleague was approached by a management consultant seeking a capable person who can be the Kindergarten Head for a new school and she suggested my name.I was first shocked and then overwhelmed and replied to her, “ how come you suggested my name?” She said, ‘Why not you, Kajal? You’re very capable for the role. Why can’t you do it?’ And I thought to myself, really, ‘am I capable of such a position, it’s a huge responsibility?’ Again, I applied, I was called for an interview. After three rounds of interviews, I was selected as the Head for Kindergarten at Rajagiri. And here I am. Now I’ve completed seven years and counting.
ChippyBefore you took charge of this role, you just had another baby. Right? 
KajalNargis was looking for a sibling since she was eight years old. Shan and myself felt she was lonely at home as we both have our own work. As a teacher, at home I had to set for the next day, have to plan for the next day and we have to bring work home all the time, it happens. It is not a 7:00 AM to 2:30 PM job. A teaching job is a 24 hour job. That is the only drawback I feel. So for Nargis, a sibling was essential. It was not as easy as we anticipated, the first one happened as we planned, for the second one, it took us a while to conceive. Six months after my second baby girl was born I joined as the Head of Kindergarten. 
Chippy————Were there many naysayers?
KajalI knew it would be a challenge. I knew it. My strength was, I have a 100% supportive husband with me. Then why should I not take it? When I discussed this offer with Shan, he said, ‘Kajal, this is the chance of a lifetime. We have done well with Nargis, we managed then and why is it that we won’t be able to do it again?’I joined as the Head of Kindergarten, Rajagiri School Qatar when my younger one was just six months old. I still remember when I resigned and was joining the new school, a certain person who told me off. He said, ‘Kajal you have a small baby, how are you going to manage as a KG head because it’s a demanding role, you have to spend a lot of time, morning till evening, at school, at home and you will not be able to cope and manage it all. You will be neglecting your child’. The air was strong with people who were objecting to my new move. I did start doubting myself for sometime but back of my mind I thought ‘oh my God is it that much difficult? But still I don’t want to miss that opportunity. I am going to give it my best.’
ChippyAs the head, you must have had to start from the scratch, set the system bottom up, build the work-culture, ethics and standards.
KajalAs it was a new school, I had a part to play in the setting up to settling the teachers, the parents and above all our children. I woke up at four o’clock everyday. I have to cook, pack things for everyone and myself, and drop off my kids to the playhouse and reach my school by 6:30 AM. I have to reach my school early, as the kids start coming in by then and I only get to leave when all my kids are sent home. I have to plan lesson plans, curriculums, activities, cultural events, teachers meetings, attend school meetings, management meetings, parent meetings, and councils and what not. The first few years were hard but now I have brought it to a level where we run smoothly. I managed and I did it. Now I’m much relaxed because the system is in order. Those who are joining only have to follow the process that is set. So now it is much easier for me. I don’t have that much stress, you know, stress to do a lot of things, as I already have made the process and it works.
ChippyIf you count from 2001, the time you moved to Qatar, you can say 20 years of teaching experience. Without either experience or qualification you started and you now hold the title Head of the Department of Kindergarten, it’s now over two decades. 
KajalWhen you say in years, yes over twenty one years now. Wow!
ChippyAll these years you concentrated on Kindergarten. Did you ever think you have to change or move away from Kindergarten?
KajalNo, never once have I ever thought of moving away from where I am. Also I believe, when you are concentrating on one area, you can grow faster. I just gelled into Kindergarten. I always feel I was born to be here. That’s what I felt when I was teaching in the kindergarten, that for me it is very easy to bond with the kindergarten children, you know, they are innocent and at the same time extremely smart. So I observe them and learn from them too. I do tell the teachers, while you teach them, you also may get to learn new things from them. So, watch out and let all of us grow by learning from each other. 
ChippyYou have found your happy place. 
KajalActually, a lot of happiness when I go to school, and when I’m dealing with the children, you know, that is the happiest moment nowadays, I’m getting from my life. Chippy, especially after the pandemic, now school has started. I feel so good, you know, seeing my kids, the small bundle of joy. And when I enter the class, when they wish me, when they come and hug me and I feel so good. I feel that I am for children, especially Kindergarten. So when I had experience only in that area, I decided better to go for early childhood education and qualify in that area. And I can completely focus on that. 
ChippyWonderful to know. So during the COVID time, how did you manage nearly two years?
KajalIt was a challenge and things changed a lot. I didn’t know that education can change in this way. The videos, the cameras, replacing the teachers! It was a drastic change in education. But I believe especially in Kindergarten, without having Teachers’ touch it is not helpful or possible for kids to learn, especially what I have seen after two years when children started coming back to school, they don’t have the social skills, they don’t have fine motor development. A lot of children have speaking disabilities. We have to bring the children back to their normal life. We are trying that.There were a lot of limitations in online classes, we really understood coming to school is very important, especially Kindergarten. 
ChippyEvery time, every path you chose, every change you made in regards to a new school, or at schools, you actually wanted to grow and develop yourself. 
KajalTrue, we learn as we grow and we grow only when we learn. As we move in life, we come across many people, situations, circumstances and these mould us and make us who we are. We pick up the best traits to follow and when we make mistakes, we learn from them and rebuke ourselves to never repeat them again. So we learn every single day as we go. 
ChippyInitially you must have learned on your own  but as you progress you must have looked up to someone. Who inspired you? 
KajalThe person who truly inspired me is Ms Shruti Chauhan. She was my mentor, I can say, I really love the way she handled matters, how she tackled issues with kids, the parents and the school internal and external. I learned a lot more from her than from any previous experiences. With Ms. Chauhan I could go and talk to her about anything. Right from my change in attitude, teaching style and methodology, I grasped from her. Her guidance was most needed and it shaped me to be the person I am today.
Chippy————As a young girl you were denied dance lessons. You learned what you can from your school, you could not train professionally. Is that the only dream that has not happened so far? 
KajalChippy, all my dreams came true. So what I dreamt during my childhood, I’m doing now. I am a teacher and now I’m learning dance, classical dance, professionally, under Kalamandalam Sini at Abhinaya. My daughter Nargis is her student and I used to initially accompany her, and later became her student. Abhinaya organises programs, so I got opportunities through the dance school to perform Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam.

It’s now five years since I started learning classical dance. Dreams are all happening. Everyday when I dance I feel that I have just started. I have to do more. I have not reached anywhere, especially in the field of dance. I have to do more. I want to grow more in this area, that’s my passion and I want to do more. 
ChippyAm so proud to know you Kajal. You are a go-getter. I think people don’t realize the effort that you have to put in. They see you and they see you as a very successful person, but they don’t know the effort that you had to put in and the trials you go through.
KajalI know. It’s not easy. Lot of struggle was there in between. Especially after graduation and when I came here I had a problem with my language. I had a problem with mingling with a new culture. I got a lot of humiliation at the beginning because of the way I dress, talk and interact. But from everywhere I learned to make myself better and never shy away from any feedback.

Initially I used to cry and go to Shan and complain, they made fun of my accent, they could not understand me, they made fun of me, he said, ‘don’t let someone bother you’. That’s what I learned and I got more confident that I have to get over it. And I cannot go to the next step, if I start taking everything personally, so I stopped.
ChippyHow different is Kajal from 2001 to 2022 Kajal?
KajalMy attitude is different. My dressing style is different. I am more confident now, I know how to deal and answer when someone insults me or talks in a manner not acceptable. I know better now.I have changed. I cannot change anyone, but I have learned to manage how I react. I’m 100% confident that I can go anywhere, or talk to anyone. My experience changed me for the better. I know how to deal with anything now and I know what to ignore.
ChippySounds like a person who is responsible. In the beginning you said you are a responsible person, you know, responsible for not just yourself but for others too.
KajalI am responsible, especially as I now am the Head of the Department. I have to deal with a lot of matters, I am a woman who should at times be a sister, mother, friend, parent, father, brother, and more, many hats to pull off in my position.

I have many responsibilities towards my school and students, and I have to also take care of my teachers. They have come far away from their home with a lot of personal, professional, or financial issues. I am a person who will lend an ear at times to those who want to unburden themselves from their everyday stress. They have an attachment with me where they can talk to me, they know I cannot help them but me hearing them out is all they want at times. Then there are those who look up to me, to be their mentor. So I have to be responsible.
ChippyWow. That’s intense. I’m so proud of you. 
KajalAnyway, it all happened only because of Shan, his entry into my life changed the trajectory of my world. I am proud of the man he is and my husband, I call him with pride. I am not diminishing my hard work here, 100% credit goes to Shan, for not just being supportive, but for having my back in everything I do. Be it my teaching career, be it my passion for dance, anchoring, modeling, he is happy with everything I do. I am the highlight of his life and Shan mine’s. I am glad we had that fifteen minutes of chat years back.
Chippy————That’s a good one. One last question. What Would You Tell Your 18 Year Old Self?
KajalI will tell my 18-year-old self, ‘you will blossom into a wonderful woman. Your life is for today. Plan your future but don’t stress about it. Love yourself. Keep in mind, you may not be everyone’s cup of tea and know it’s ok. Do not bother about what others think of you. Enjoy and cherish every second of your day. Life is too short to overthink’.”
ChippyThank you Kajal for a wonderful chat. I cannot thank you enough. And it is my privilege to be part of your life. Keep going and keep rocking.
KajalChippy, it was indeed a pleasure and you made me go back to places I have never travelled for a while. There is so much more to say, we will keep it for next time. Till next time. 
Follow Kajal P. Moosa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s