MNTS Tamil School was founded in 2008
MN Tamil Sangam was revived during fall of 2008 and advocated starting the Tamil School which eventually led to the formation of MNTS Tamil School.
MNTS Tamil School was founded as an umbrella organization within MN Tamil Sangam during Oct/Nov 2008. The school started teaching Tamil to 12 students from Dec 12 2008 at Eden Prairie Community Center by renting 2 rooms. The students were charged $10 per month which will cover 2 to 3 classes per month during Sundays from 10 AM to 12 Noon.
Sivanandam Mariyappan was the founding Director of MNTS Tamil School from Nov 2008 until the end of Academic Year 2009-10. Before starting the school, it was a challenge to identify the syllabus to adopt and teach Tamil to the students. Various Tamil Schools in USA like Missouri, Chicago, Atlanta and east coast schools were consulted. Singapore Tamil Books were imported for all levels and reviewed along with the Tamilnadu syllabus and Thai Thamil Schools syllabus. Considering the simplicity and Thani Thamil curriculum of Thai Thamil School, the alphabet teaching concepts and stories were used to construct simple weekly lessons for MNTS Tamil School.
The first 12 students were divided into 2 levels, with small kids like KG, First grade into one class of beginner’s level and 2 to 5th grade students in the next level. To begin with, Parents were charged monthly ($10) on a monthly basis to find out their interest and feedback and ensure the viability of the program to make the students learn Tamil with fun.
By the end of 5th month of school year 2008-09, 36 students were learning Tamil. As a first step, the weekly materials, which was printed on sheets of papers until then were replaced with formal books in Jan 2009 with specific syllabus material to cover in the class room for each week. This is the origin of the weekly syllabus format which is being followed now in ATA.
The first year (partial from Dec to May) was a successful model with handful of Teacher volunteers like Harish Venkitachalam, Manimaran, Diana, Sivakumar, Madhusudhanan, Karthikayani, Angu Maran etc. The first ever Minnesota Tamil Open Competitions was conducted during May 2009 primarily in the form of Thirukural Competitions. 30+ students participated and recited 40 Kurals each, with Tamil and English meaning. Winners were presented with glittering trophies during the Summer Kodai Vizha. The first open competitions were coordinated by Diana Arul.
The second academic year of 2009-10 started off with 70+ students enrolled for the Tamil Language learning program on the first day of the school. The number of students crossed 100 by Dec 2009. Since, the Eden Prairie Community center did not have enough rooms to accommodate the exponential growth of the MNTS Tamil School, the organizers decided to move the school location to Hopkins Eisenhower Community Center. The classes were offered both on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings. The teacher volunteer base also increased which included Director – Sivanandam Mariyappan, Harish, Diana, Natraj, Karthika Sivanandam, Ko, Priya Senthil, Priya Raj etc.
A new branch at Shoreview was started with Ramesh as the coordinator with 10+ students. In the second year, a customized syllabus was formed to cater to the students in the USA, adopting the best aspects of Tamil teaching concepts of Thai Thamil School syllabus and primarily following Tamil Virtual University syllabus. MNTS Tamil School has become the authorized Minnesota study center of Tamil Virtual University. Many students have acquired various levels of TVU certification like Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Levels through MNTS Tamil School.
The second year MN Open Competitions were another milestone with 70+ students participating in areas like Thirukkural/Athichoodi Recital with meanings, Oratorical, Essay Writing and Tamil Spelling Bee.
Third Academic year 2010-11 started off with 100+ students on the first day of school and eventually had 130+ Students . Ko Murugesan served as the second Director with executive board consisting of Siva Mariyappan as course Director, Natraj as Treasurer and Ravikumar as Secretary. Ravikumar and Madhu Venkatarajan created higher level lessons for MNTS School and Geetha prepared the lessons for entry level Mazhalai. These lessons were getting adopted by ATA and MNTS School started following the ATA syllabus. A library comprising motivational / educational / fiction Tamil books was formed and students actively started making use of them. Another successful round of MN Open Competitions was conducted with Ravikumar as the coordinator and 90+ kids/teens participated in it.
Fourth Academic 2011-12 year had almost 150 students from 3 different location of MNTS Tamil School. Shoreview branch got moved to Blaine. A new branch at Woodbury was started with Vishnu Priya as coordinator. Adopted complete ATA syllabus with 5 levels of Tamil language (Mazhalai, Nilai1, Nilai2, Nilai3 & Nilai4). Ravikumar created the lessons and HW for ATA Nilai4 & Nilai5, Geetha Saravanarajan created the lessons for ATA Mazhalai, which is used by over 40 schools all over USA.
MN Open competitions was conducted for the fourth consecutive year with 80+ kids/teens participating in it. Senthilkumar Ramamurthy coordinated all the competitions.
Fifth Academic year 2012-13 had 180+ students at 3 different locations -Hopkins, Woodbury and Blaine. 6 different levels of ATA syllabus was followed ranging from Mazhalai, Nilai1 to 5. Natraj Koteeswaran served as the Director, VishnuPriya as Dy.Director, Harish as Secretary, Ravikumar as Treasurer, Sivanandam as Course director. The school board consisted of Sundar, Rajesh, Thamilarasi, Senthil, Sudha, Sivaganesan and Dhanalakshmi. An Awareness of Tamil typewriting and the need to electronically communicate using Tamil was emphasized and students / adults were introduced to Tamil typing software. OpenSIS complete Student/School management software was implemented to build a database of all the Student, Teacher information and to record the Weekly Attendance, Homework and 3rd semester marks. This was a giant step towards the Accreditation process.
ACT – Accreditation Compliance Team was formed and 9 volunteers attended the full day training at AdvancEd to learn about the accreditation process. ACT Team and School board started working on the Accreditation process improvements and compliance from April 2013. ATA Spring conference was held at Minnesota during May 2013 which formally kick started the Accreditation process.
For the first time World Mother Language day (Feb 21′st) was celebrated at MNTS School. Oratorical competitions for students and first ever Adults Essay & Poem competitions were conducted during this event and winners were awarded. Fifth consecutive year of MN Open competitions were conducted with 70+ kids/teens participated in it. Sundar Adhiyagavel coordinated all the competitions. For the first time, cash prizes were awarded $1 for each Thirukkural recited with Tamil/English meaning. $2000 was raised for this purpose from Minnesota Tamilians and over $500 was awarded to winners. For the first time ever, 2 full day summer Tamil Immersion camp was conducted at Woodbury. 16 kids/teens participated in it which had 2 full days fun filled activities relating to Tamil language and culture like Spoken Tamil, Yoga, Bharatha Natyam, Silambam, Kabaddi, and Pallanguli with delicious food.
Sixth Academic year 2013-14 had 120+ students learning Tamil at two locations Hopkins and Woodbury. 7 different levels of ATA syllabus was taught ranging from Mazhalai, Nilai1 to Nilai6. OpenSis, the LMS was put to use at a greater level by recording the student’s participation and progress each week at classroom, quality of homework assignments etc. This enables the school to qualitatively analyze and measure the students’ progress and continuously refine the teaching methods and syllabus.
Seventh Academic year 2014-15 has 140+ students learning Tamil at two locations Hopkins and Woodbury. 8 different levels of ATA syllabus was taught ranging from Mazhalai, Nilai1 to Nilai7. As an important milestone, MNTS Tamil School underwent a strict evaluation from AdvancED, on different rubrics of world class education standards. At the end of the two day evaluations, we came out with stunningly flying colors with very high scores and only one element to be improved. AdvancED, especially the evaluators praised our School that is run 100% with dedicated, passionate volunteers can exemplify such high professionalism and maintain high standards and quality in education. We strive really hard to continue on similar lines and stay above the parents / students expectations.
Eighth Academic year 2015-16 has commenced with 170+ students enrolled at two locations – Hopkins and Woodbury. A new level of Nilai 8 has been added this year, where the students will be taught mainly to initiate a conversation and retain it, public speaking, earning voluntary hours credits etc. First Bilingual Seal assessment for 2 students and both of them earned GOLD level proficiency. The first 2 students who earned the Bilingual Seal for TAMIL in the whole of US. 20+ Teachers were trained in IPA (Integrated Performance Assessment).
Ninth Academic year 2016-17 has commenced with 240+ students enrolled at two locations – Hopkins and Woodbury. 15 Teachers formally enrolled for Tamil BA (Bachelor of Arts) – 3 year course. Two more students earned the Bilingual Seal with PLATINUM level proficiency. Still the only 4 students in whole of US earned the Bilingual Seal.
Tenth Academic year 2017-18 has commenced with 300+students enrolled at two locations – Hopkins and Woodbury. 30+ Teachers got trained in IPA. 7 of our Teachers qualified as ACTFL certified raters for TAMIL for all 4 LSRW proficiency levels. First ever assessors with all 4 LSRW skills for TAMIL in whole of US. 3 more students earned the Bilingual Seal, totaling 7 students in 3 years achieving this honor with MN Dept. of Education administered Tamil Assessments.
Eleventh Academic year 2018-19 has commenced with 330+students enrolled at two locations – Hopkins and Woodbury. 12 Teachers formally completed 3 year Tamil BA linguistic degree, first ever in US with this distinction among 200+ Tamil Schools all over US. Higher level syllabus mapped to ACTFL proficiency levels with NCSSFL can-do statements from Novice- High to Advanced Low. 5 more students earned the Bilingual Seal, totaling 12 students in 4 years. Minnesota Governor Mayk Dayton formally recognized the teachers who developed the assessments for TAMIL after a long training cycle with the help of MN Dept. of Education.
Twelfth Academic year 2019-20 has commenced with 380+students enrolled at two locations – Hopkins and Woodbury. Entire syllabus mapped to ACTFL proficiency levels, starting from Novice Low/Mid/High, Intermediate Low/Mid/High and Advanced Low. Total Teachers and Volunteers 90+ and complete adoption of IPA assessments focusing on LSRW skills for all levels.