The Ekya Learning Center is a team of dynamic, forward thinking individuals that chart Ekya’s future steps. They bring research, pedagogic approaches and curricular advancements from around the world into Ekya classrooms.
In this changing world, we can no longer expect students to learn how we did 10 years ago. Curriculum, instruction, assessment and culture must be relevant and context-driven. Ekya believes in structuring learning experiences that challenge the students and harbor a quest for mastery. Through intentional planning, the Ekya Learning Center pilots, tests and implements curricular changes and interventions.
Ahlada Janani Sudersan
Ms. Ahlada designs the Computers curriculum for Ekya, and also teaches Computer Science to senior school at our ITPL campus, and has been a part of Ekya since its inception in 2012. She is passionate about preparing students for the demands of the future, and believes that we need to gear our education to create innovators and thinkers who can tackle the challenges of an increasingly tech-dependent world. She researches existing digital platforms and curricula that are being used across the world, and on methods of technological integration into education that will maintain a balance between traditional schooling and modern tools.
Prior to her work with Ekya, Ms. Ahlada worked in the field of electric power, to perform predictive analysis using artificial intelligence. She also designed and simulated AI models for pattern recognition, and worked briefly as a data analyst. She carries a B.E in Electronics and Instrumentation from Madras University, an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Tennessee Technological University, a certification in SAS training, and a B.Ed. Ms. Ahlada is an avid reader and also enjoys dabbling with watercolours and acrylics when she finds the time.
"The best teachers are those that tell you where to look
but don’t tell you what to see."
Ms. Aruna Reddy believes that students should have opportunities to apply their learning and see the connections between different disciplines. At Ekya, she focuses her time on building project-based coursework, documenting curricular transactions and conducting workshops on teaching and assessment. She is a strong believer in need for interdisciplinary study that is dovetailed by application focused assessment rather than memorizing content. Ms. Reddy, during her six and a half year tenure at Rishi Valley School, taught Biology and Chemistry in the classroom, Hindustani classical music to a select group of students, and led the weekly sessions of International Folk Dance. Later, as a founder teacher and coordinator at Presidency School for four years, she also taught Biology and English at middle school level.
Outside the classroom, she is an avid gardener and leads student groups to do research and tag all the plants in the school with their botanical and common names. Ms. Reddy has a Master’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Mumbai and a Bachelor’s degree in Education from IGNOU. She has attended various workshops on CCE, Teaching English, and has recently completed the Teaching for Understanding course conducted by Harvard University. Ms. Reddy, apart from having a green thumb, is a serious student of Hindustani classical music, and enjoys cooking and travelling.
Designing the Hindi curriculum at the Ekya Learning Centre is Ms. Bhawna, who comes to Ekya with over two decades of experience in broadcast media. She has donned several hats in the industry – as a broadcast journalist, media producer, content creator, translator, communication and PR expert and has worked with leading news organizations and renowned corporate houses like ZEE News, BBC World Service Trust, Penguin India Books, Greenpeace and IBM India.
Her career highlights also include the English to Hindi translation and publication of the literary work of several famous writers, including Nobel Prize Winner V S Naipaul and business leader Subroto Bagchi. An active social activist, advocating for the rights of the disabled, Ms. Bhawna is a staunch supporter of inclusion in education and is working extensively to build inclusive creative learning spaces for children and young adults with special needs.
Ms. Bhawna holds a Master in Education from Lovely Professional University, Bachelor in Commerce from Delhi University, a Diploma in Media Communication and is a certified Corporate Social Responsibility Professional from Ministry of Corporate Affairs. She is also certified in teaching children with autism, cerebral palsy, developmental delays and other special needs. Having finished her Masters at the age of 41, Ms. Bhawna believes that education is a lifelong process. In her free time, you will find her spending time with her children or honing her skills in pottery.
At Ekya, Ms. Jeeva builds the Geography curriculum for the Social Science Program and also looks into the development of the educator toolkit that aims to standardise the lexicon used by our teachers. Prior to Ekya, she worked with PCI Media Impact, a behaviour change communication firm, based in New York. She has also worked with UNDP projects in the Caribbean and with the IUCN Commission on Education and Communication as a Programme Officer.
Ms. Jeeva believes that educators are change agents who are uniquely positioned to inspire the next generation to become inclusive human beings, deep thinkers, and responsible citizens. She holds a Master’s in Sustainability Science and Education from the City University of New York. At CUNY, her research interests were in environmental policy and climate change interventions. She has also completed her Master’s in Environmental Economics from Madras School of Economics and Bachelor’s in Management Studies from Wilson College, Mumbai University.
Tenacious and positive at work and beyond. Ms. Jeeva’s passion lies in protecting natural spaces and species. In the past, she has volunteered with turtle mapping groups in protected areas. She enjoys exploring cuisines and local cultures through travel, movies, art, and craft. She is an amateur painter whose latest project is restoring lustre to a 40-year- old trunk she found in the attic.
As the Language and Reading Coordinator at Ekya, Ms. Kavitha aims to enliven the library, making it more inviting, link its resources more integrally into the every-day curriculum and use it to help our students become independent learners.
A self-confessed bibliophile, Ms. Kavitha holds a graduate degree in English Literature from Coimbatore. Having written and illustrated for Deccan Herald and its supplement for over 20 years, Ms. Kavitha has also penned stories across genres – fiction and non-fiction, catering to a readership between six-year-olds to young adults. Her books have been published by Penguin/Puffin, Karadi Tales, Rupa and Pratham Books, and her short stories anthologised in many collections and English readers.
Ms. Kavitha believes that the Indian education system is limiting as it curbs children rather than setting their minds free – emphasizing on rote-learning than the joys of exploration. Prior to joining Ekya, she worked full time with a tech-publisher, editing articles. She parents a high-maintenance Labrador and is fascinated by art and history.
Ms. Manisha Pandita is involved with developing forward-looking and interactive science curriculum at Ekya Learning Center. Previously, she was involved with the research work on Cognitive Impairment and Epidemiology at Tufts University, Boston, US. Her research papers have been published and presented in various scientific journals and conferences.
Ms. Manisha is committed to helping raise a generation of science-fluent children who will be bold thinkers and standout innovators. Her goal is to create the seeds of learning that will make our students feel inspired and be able to see the relevance of science to the real world. She is passionate in bringing lectures vividly to life and always re-examining the ways children can learn best by incorporating latest methodologies from cognitive development in her work here at the Ekya Learning Centre.
Ms. Manisha has studied Cognitive Psychology at Drexel University, US, and Management in Community Organization from Tufts University, Boston, US. An avid foodie, Ms. Manisha enjoys travelling, reading and listening to jazz.
From the Ekya Blog: Understanding the Science Program at Ekya Schools with Ms. Manisha Pandita
At Ekya Learning Centre, Ms. Namita Sarbahi leads the Social Science program. With over 20 years of experience in education, Ms. Namita has served several levels in the department of Humanities, as a coordinator and Head of Department. Assigned to CBSE schools across India, Ms. Namita has also worked at IGCSE schools overseas in Singapore and Doha, Qatar.
She holds an MPhil from Jawaharlal Nehru University and Bachelors in Education and History from Delhi University. Ms. Namita’s expertise lies in curriculum planning and devising innovative and learner-centric pedagogy.
As an educator, she wants to channel her efforts towards engaging her students through collaborative learning. Her goal is to make them self-directed learners who can contribute positively not only to their own country but also to the world community as global citizens. Ms. Namita strongly believes that the education of an individual is never complete until their last day, making learning an eternal process.
Mr. Paranjyothi builds the Kannada curriculum for Ekya. With over 11 years of teaching experience at CMR High School, he has trained students from across the country and the world, helping them master the language of Karnataka. Passionate about making learning an enjoyable process, Mr. Paranjyothi is developing methods through which Kannada can be effectively taught to non-native speakers. As a teacher, he firmly believes in interactive lessons, employing activities to make his lectures interesting and fun.
Carrying a B.A in Kannada, History and Education from Gulbarga University, Mr. Paranjyothi holds a Bachelor’s in Education from MLMN College of Education, Chikkamagaluru and a Master’s in Kannada from Karnataka University. Empathetic at heart, Mr. Paranjyothi is an ardent follower of folk music and dance, and an active participant in theatre – directing skits, role plays and short dramas.
Ms. Sandhya Soundarajan oversees the Lifeskills and Performing Arts program at the Ekya Learning Centre. A firm believer that education is a life-long journey, Ms. Soundarajan strives to make schooling a way to broaden young minds, to help them become the best versions of themselves, and to encourage healthy competition. At Ekya, she prepares learning-modules that are aimed at the holistic development of children, integrative with their academics and shoulder stress they face by deploying healthy mental health practices.
Prior to her role at Ekya, Ms. Soundarajan worked as a special educator, also taking up the role of a summer camp teacher at an educational institute based on the principles of Reggio Emilia, Waldorf and Maria Montessori. Her work has primarily revolved around learning through hands-on experiences and associative learning. Ms. Soundarajan believes in creating an entertaining, engaging and inclusive learning environment – her career highlights her style of teaching which includes games, puzzles, music, dance, and theatre. She strongly dismisses the practice of boxing students into stereotypes and categories or marking them based on their IQ.
Ms. Soundarajan holds a Master’s Degree in Psychological Counselling from Indian Institute of Psychology and Research, Bangalore and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Women’s Christian College, Chennai. She is also a certified graphologist and soon-to-be certified hypnotherapist. Known for her wits and enthusiasm, Ms. Soundarajan finds joy in being with people. She directs her creativity and passion towards training children to be inclusive, both mentally and physically. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, poetry, painting, pottery and an occasional long walk
Ms. Shobha Sivaramakrishnan is the earliest member of the Ekya Learning Center and is known for her positive and ‘can-do’ attitude. Ms. Sivaramakrishnan believes that the process of learning and not the product, is the sign of a good education system. She also believes in the development of essential life skills in children by fostering a creative learning environment and in inculcating reflective practices in students will help them become critical thinkers who can face challenging real world situations.
Her role at Ekya includes developing programs of work, implementing comprehensive evaluation modules across campuses and contributing to curricular changes throughout the year. As part of the teacher orientation program, she conducts workshops on visual thinking and the documentation of learning material through portfolio management. She is self-taught Google Apps advocate and helps the Ekya community use online tools for technology-rich learning. Ms. Sivaramakrishnan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Home Science, a Bachelor’s degree in Education, and a Diploma in interior design. She has also attended the Teaching for Understanding course conducted by the Wide World Foundation developed by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is a gifted artist and a doting mother of two.
From the Ekya Blog: Exploring Design Thinking at Ekya Schools with Ms. Shobha Sivaramakrishnan
Shiekha Elizabeth John
At Ekya Learning Centre, Dr. Shiekha designs and develops the Social Science Curriculum, also teaching senior school Geography at CMR National Public School. She is passionate about the environment, both in its physical manifestation as well as an inner sanctum of self. She strongly believes in the imperativeness of building future generations as environmentally conscious global citizens. Moving beyond the boundaries of the textbook, she designs a comprehensive curriculum that will facilitate the children to be thinkers and researchers who will build the future.
Prior to her position as an educator, she was an environmental researcher at the National Centre for Earth Science Studies (Ministry of Earth Sciences) where she worked on her doctoral work on natural resource management with specific emphasis on human-ecosystem interactions, impact studies and sustainability perspectives. Other areas of her research include various aspects of the subject fields in environmental science, mainly river basin-wise resource analysis, environmental impact assessment – management, sustainable development, hydrochemistry and nutrient flux studies with several publications, scientific papers and reports on these topics.
Dr. Shiekha also holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Science from Pune University and is a certified Integrated Management System (IMS) Auditor. She tries to lead a life that emphasizes humane qualities of compassion and gratitude, for our fellow citizens and for our Planet. She is an avid reader of classic English literature and finds time to reread the works of authors like Margaret Mitchell, Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë.