Trained as a special educator and with 17 years of experience in educational institutions in West Bengal, Sudeshna Sinha is a founder member of Shikshamitra. Apart from setting up schools, teaching and leading teachers’ training in a diverse range of settings, She has also intervened as an educational advisor in organizations that work with hard to reach children and those with mental health issues. At Shikshamitra, she heads the Resource and Training Unit and the Innovative Learning Program.
Biswajit came to Shikshamitra in Mar 2005 as an office assistant. He was on a fellowship from CINI ASHA and had completed his schooling till HS (10+2). In CINI ASHA, he developed himself as a peer leader and later worked in the de-addiction program and as a caregiver for railway platform children in Sealdah, Kolkata.
Within few months in Shikshamitra, he became very popular with the children and was fast absorbing the teaching techniques, the norms and the philosophy of the open learning center. He proved excellent with maintenance, repairs and all hands-on work – in craft, cooking to science classes.
Within a couple of years he became a full-fledged teacher of math, EVS (with adequate training) along with games and theater. He picked up computer skills and emerged as a deft computer person. He is passionate about puzzles and riddles. He continues to be the most popular person, student confidante and primary math trainer.
A compassionate human being, he is one of the main think-tanks and pillars of Shikshamitra.
Maura coordinates the art program at Shikshamitra. She grew up in Buffalo, New York in USA. She spent 10 years teaching and working with environmental preservation/recycling/anti-litter groups in Japan before moving to Kolkata.
Her approach to teaching art is that we are all artists and art can come into every aspect of our lives. She tries to bring in concepts of recycling, sharing, experimentation and expressing the relationship between oneself and the world. She also helps to develop products that can be sold – it teaches work practice to the students through small vocational skill-training projects.
Sipra is our Bangla teacher. She teaches a range of children, from the “yet-to-read” 9 year olds to the ones aspiring to complete class X. An MA in Bengali and an MSW, she picked up the nuances & methods of teaching Bengali at Shikshamitra. She is good at developing materials and has been participating in trainings.
Swati is the math and science teacher of Shikshamitra since 2009 and a math resource person involved with DIETs, JBNSTS and other organizations working with govt high schools in West Bengal.
She grew up in Patha Bhavan, Kolkata (pre-primary – XII) – a school well-known for its innovative teaching methods. An Indian National Math Olympiad 1993 finalist and a B.Stat-M.Stat from Indian Statistical Institute, she did MS in Math from University of Washington, Seattle, USA. She taught at Shoreline Community College, where students were diverse, age-wise, job-wise, culturally and mostly from lower income groups. She also volunteered intensely with Asha for Education which made her aware of the real education scenario across India and West Bengal in particular as well as put her in touch with the major innovations happening in education nation-wide.
In 2008, she returned from USA to work in the area of children’s education in West Bengal.
Mahua is the librarian and a resource person of Shikshamitra. She also runs a small library at her home for neighborhood children. While Shikshamitra School was running, Mahua led the environmental education program with lots of explorations and discussion that had us all looking around, outside and within ourselves.
“For me, a library acts as a treasure trove where minds wander in to search for the nuggets of wisdom and knowledge hidden in books and other documents. A library can also be a space where minds meet other minds, exchange ideas and where people come to learn, reflect and become empowered.”
Poonam is our accountant and keeps us alive with her mischievous fun-loving spirit.