Vanar Year - Pre-primary school ( Playgroup - Kindergarten)
Poonam Chauhan, Head-Pre-primary school
Poonam Chauhan, Head, 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.
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.
Jyotsna Chandan, Curriculum Coordinator, Nursery and Kindergarten
Jyotsna began her journey at Shikshantar in 2007, as a group facilitator. She is a Postgraduate in History and a Bachelor of Education. She also holds a Diploma in Montessori school training.
Engaging with children during her years as a facilitator, she was fascinated by their curiosity and willingness to explore and learn. Through her experiences, she gained an understanding of the world as lived by children. Her organic growth in Shikshantar from facilitator to coordinator has helped her unlearn and learn about different aspects of education. That, along with her whole-hearted belief in the principles embodied by Shikshantar, she works closely with teachers, guiding, planning and implementing curricular experiences that respond to children’s interests, innate need to explore, and keen sense of enquiry.
In her spare time, Jyotsna likes to read, cook, travel, and learn more about the world around her.
Shruti Singh, Curriculum Coordinator, Playgroup
Having done her graduation in Psychology and Masters in Mass Communication, she worked for 9 years in the field of PR and Corporate Communication. She then took a break from the corporate world to spend time with her children.
She initially joined the Shikshantar family as a parent in the year 2007. In 2014, she became a part of the Pre-primary team as a facilitator. Her ability to sensitively connect with children has helped her build an understanding about their world. Her experiences of progressive education at Shikshantar have helped her to create a learning environment that encourages children to observe, explore and make new discoveries.
Reading a wide variety of books helps satiate her need to develop her linguistic skills. However, it is listening to and narrating stories to children that bring her immense joy.
Finding Feet - Primary School ( Classes I - IV)
Seema Upadhyaya, Head - Primary School
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, Curriculum coordinator - Classes I & II
Amrita Sinha is the curriculum facilitator and coordinator for class I and II.
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…
Deepa Rane, Curriculum coordinator - Classes III & IV
There is a story behind every story. So is Deepa Rane’s connect with Shikshantar. In her journey,after post-graduation in Business Management and corporate experience, she moved on to connect with progressive education when her daughter’s schooling began in Bangalore. Relocation to
Gurgaon and her the search for progressive schools for continuity in learning brought in the connect with Shikshantar.
Shikshantar’s principle of ‘Stories in Curriculum’ was her keen area of interest. Years passed listening to stories from children and narrating stories to them. Her learning was by observing the immersion of children while themes and concepts were facilitated through stories and poems. Group poems and stories; role plays and creative writeups created by children deepened her belief in the world of stories for enhancing imagination and creativity
Facilitating Classes I-IV, she is currently the Curriculum coordinator for Classes III and IV.
“ Who am I?
Am I A bundle of thoughts and emotions
Or a mind with likes and dislikes?
Energy looking forward to move ahead and explore
Or a being just wanting to live the moment alone?
A drop in the ocean of imagination
Or part of the wave to create a new world?
Who am I? “
Climbing Feet, Finding Grounds & Finding Self - Middle & Senior School ( Classes V - XII)
Anita Nair, Head - Senior School
Anita Nair is Head of Middle & Senior School. 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.
Garima Sinha, Academic Coordinator, Classes IX-XII
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 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.”
Shruti Jain, Curriculum coordinator, Classes V- VIII
Shruti Jain is the curriculum coordinator for Classes V – VIII.
Shruti Jain has an extensive experience in teaching history in prestigious schools of Delhi and Gurgaon. A postgraduate 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 inquiry, and the 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.”