Poonam Chauhan, Supervisor, Pre primary school, has been a part of Shikshantar since 2003 as a member of its first team of facilitators. An Economics graduate with a diploma in Public Relations, her innate connect with children and an intuitive understanding of their world drew her to the field of education. She believes in creating a learning environment that stimulates children’s thinking and keeps their spirit of enquiry alive.
In her eleven years experience at Shikshantar, she has strengthened her understanding about progressive education and its implementation in the classroom and evolved from a learner facilitator to a mentor and guide for her team of teachers.
She likes to read, travel and learn about different cultures. However, it is engaging with children that interests her most and continues to nurture the child within her.
PRIMARY SCHOOL TEAM
Seema Upadhyaya is the Head of Primary School. With a post graduation in Business Management, Hotel Management and corporate experience, she moved on to connect with progressive education in 1998.
Her passion to understand and learn more about children and education led her to undergo the Waldorf Teacher Training Programme. She worked as a Waldorf teacher and later associated herself with the Sri Sri Vidya Mandir Schools.
The journey with Shikshantar began with its inception. Through her experiences at Shikshantar, she has deepened her understanding of experiential learning, classroom practices, curriculum and teaching methodologies. She has grown here from a teacher to a Curriculum Coordinator, Supervisor and now the Head of Primary School.
Putting down her musings as an educator interests her and she contributes to her blog whenever the urge to share her observations and learning grips her. “My learning has been in the road taken to travel so far……..and I continue to walk.”
Amrita Sinha is the curriculum facilitator and coordinator for class II and III.
The stepping stone in the field of education for her was the ‘Teachers’ Training Program’ at Aurobindo Ashram. This was followed by Bachelor’s and Master’s in English and Bachelors in Education. The extensive teacher training programme from the progressive school Mirambika took her on a journey of integrated and experiential learning. The intense three years long teacher training program provided a base for her to understand progressive education, integrated learning and whole language approach. The journey continued with Shikshantar which shares a similar philosophy and vision of integrated and progressive education.
Her association with Shikshantar has strengthened her belief in Experiential and Progressive Learning and Integral five-fold Education. Ten years of close company with young children has reinforced to her the importance and need for a curriculum to evolve and revolve around child’s growth. She has also designed and implemented an effective and inclusive curriculum for the special needs children.
As a curriculum facilitator and coordinator, she believes “Learning is a spiral with depth and breadth as goals” and for her- Education starts at birth and never ends…
MIDDLE AND SENIOR SCHOOL TEAM
Anita Nair’s first passion is teaching, having had the fortune of been mentored by teachers who went much beyond their immediate responsibility of teaching. They prepared her for life by building her self-esteem, enhancing her confidence, and arming her with a strong and sound character. Once she was done with her studies, her mother told her that teaching was one of the noblest professions one can pursue…a profession that directly engages one with children and their lives. It is with this conviction that she took up this profession and there is no looking back.
After years of experience as a teacher in Army Public school, the move to Shikshantar was a huge shift. In her first interaction with Minoti didi and Sunil bhaiya, she was awed to know that there is a school where children love to come everyday…where Biology classes happens right amidst flora and fauna…where children ask questions without any inhibitions….
In Shikshantar she was entrusted with assignments that the school pursues for bringing forth the best in students and in addressing the issues that hinder their wholesome development.
While teaching students about the great mysteries that the human spirit of enquiry has unravelled, a teacher must hail the human beings who worked for it and highlight the travails they went through and the mettle that they displayed. As a teacher, she tried to connect to her students—their strengths, weaknesses, aspirations, and fears—so that she could help them overcome their limitations and excel in what they are good at.
Apart from curiosity, she had immense respect for knowledge and knowledgeable persons. Her learning repository always has room for more. Learning perhaps, happens spontaneously if the curiosity to learn is fostered. As a teacher, she always tried to endow her students with this attribute, so that the quest for knowledge becomes part of their lives.
Gaima Sinha is the Curriculum Coordinator for Class IX to XII. With a B.Tech. in Electronics, she worked in the field of Automobile Electronics for six years. Following a sabbatical of four years which she spent in exploring the world all over again as a child, with her own child, she entered the field of education. She joined Shikshantar in 2006, first as a parent and then as a facilitator. What had begun as an experiment, soon transformed into a life-long commitment, after just a year of involvement with children.
She reminiscences how as a child, perhaps even today, the words she used most often were why and how. This has enabled her to have an immediate connect with the beliefs and practices followed in Shikshantar.
Over the years she has been a Group Facilitator and has explored Physics and Mathematics with Primary, Middle and Senior School students. She feels her biggest learning so far can be best expressed in Prof. Walter Lewin’s words, “What counts is not what you cover, but what you uncover.”
Shalini Mithal joined Shikshantar in the first year of its inception, 2002-2003. As a parent. That was the beginning of her association with Shikshantar which, subsequently, evolved with her joining as a facilitator.
A believer in integrated and experiential learning, her beliefs took firm root in Shikshantar. She deeply appreciates the inclusive environment of Shikshantar that nurtures creativity not only in children but also in facilitators. This space has fanned her passion for teaching and allowed her to grow as a curriculum facilitator and coordinator, learning about children, classrooms, teaching methodologies and curricular practices, as well as, as an individual.
Always on the lookout for ideas and materials that would enrich the curriculum, Shalini believes that the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the facilitators make for engaging classrooms. Having an M. Phil in English Literature, she has a special affinity for children’s literature. She was instrumental in establishing the Senior school library. She also helped set up ‘Book Nook’ in Shikshantar, a platform where readers can freely share books. Shalini is in her element when surrounded by books, both at home and outside!
Currently Shalini facilitates English in middle school and is the curriculum coordinator for Classes VI and VII.
Shruti Jain has an extensive experience of over ten years in teaching history in prestigious schools of Delhi and Gurgaon. A post graduate in History from Delhi University and Masters in Business Economics from Annamalai University, she has also done B.Ed from Indraprastha University, Delhi.
Shruti Jain enjoys learning anything and everything. It was this desire to learn that inspired her to take up teaching as her career. It is here that she can quench her thirst for learning by interacting with young blood.
She is passionate about History. She enjoys it to the optimum and strongly believes that History can make children more aware of verifying what they are told. This research, a sense of enquiry and ability to express are skills that she hopes to impart as a history teacher.
A historian to the core, Shruti Jain envisages a need to pass on unbiased versions of history to the next generation. She believes, “The past can be used for almost anything you want to do in the present. We abuse it when we create lies about the past or write histories that show only one perspective.”