The fresh academic year at Akanksha schools brings with it moments of joy and cheer as we welcome 60 new teachers to be part of the Akanksha family. To kick start things and give our newest members an insight and feel of the “Akanksha way”, our leadership team conducted an insightful and fun virtual orientation over Zoom. The orientation also featured a warm and engaging interaction with a panel of Akanksha alumni and teachers.
Orientation for Incoming Teachers: Starting Things the “Akanksha Way”
At the core of Akanksha lies two fundamental values – ‘belief’, the belief to maximise the potential of each and every child and ‘journey’, investing in the personal & professional growth of all members of the Akanksha family. All this month, Akanksha teachers will be inducted into the Akanksha way covering the following topics – Understanding Akanksha’s Culture and Vision, Socio-Emotional & Ethical (SEE) Learning Practices, Relationship Building with Students and Parents, and Digital Innovation and Virtual Learning
The first day of the orientation began with addresses and joyful welcome messages from our leadership team, with an emphasized focus on some of our leadership’s key takeaways from Akanksha. As Gagandeep Kaur, Akanksha’s Director of Org Effectiveness put it,
“One thing we have all learnt about Akanksha is that we have gotten so much more than we have ever given to this space.”
In true Akanksha fashion, the first segment was a quick check-in session where members were asked to respond to “One word to describe yourself.” Our newest members enthusiastically participated with responses such as ‘compassion’ and ‘empathy’. To immerse our teachers in Akanksha’s journey and find the best way for them to truly experience the organisation’s roots, Saurabh Taneja, CEO walked participants through Akanksha’s origin story. This included Akanksha’s beginnings, our mission & vision as well as Akanksha’s ‘Be the Change’ student vision framework.
Akanksha’s Vision & Mission
We believe that public schools are the very fabric of a community and a caring educator and parents as partners can turn the crisis into a learning experience. Akanksha’s holistic approach and student vision is relevant in the next decade.
Our vision is to impact 1 million children via excellent government schools.
Our mission to build one of the largest networks of innovative schools that empowers students to maximise their potential and that influences systemic reform.
Our Stellar Alumni
The highlight of the CEO’s address was the heartening stories of two alumni that Saurabh shared with incoming members. The first, a video story of Mrunal Khadke, Akanksha alumni who secured a full scholarship to United World College, Singapore. Belonging to a six-member family, Mrunal’s father is a local hotel receptionist and her mother is a daily-wage worker. Her story is one of transformation. In her own words, “ I am a feminist today, thanks to my experience & education at an Akanksha school…. I went from being a girl who always relied on others to an independent young woman.” Mrunal serves as a model of inspiration and self-belief to the younger generation of her family as well as her two younger sisters who are currently in school. Mrunal Khadke embodies and represents the core values of Akanksha’s student vision.
The second story is that of Ruby Ram, part of the first alumni batch from Saurabh’s time as principal of an Akanksha school in Pune. A gifted artist and trailblazer, Ruby recently sold her first piece of professional art at one of the most prestigious galleries in Pune. Saurabh shared a powerful excerpt of Ruby’s application essay for United World College from almost six years ago:
“My friends at school crib whenever there is a power cut. Imagine living in a locality with a permanent power cut. In fact the community that I live in is an illegal settlement and has no electricity. I have literally lived in darkness ever since I was born. I live in Koregaon Park in Pune. It is famous for its good facilities. Many rich people live there, it has many five-star hotels.. I live amidst all of these in a community of migrant workers. While the surrounding locality shines in the light at night, my house disappears in the darkness. I have lived the last 16 years of my life without a water supply or electricity. But the lack of electricity cannot stop me from dreaming big. My situation has been the biggest teacher of my life…tomorrow whatever I do and wherever I am, I will always be proud of my family … for me it is not a challenge but just a small part of my life.”
Ruby was given a lamp by her teacher to ensure that she could study even at home. Our CEO chose this opportunity to demonstrate the powerful role that an educator can play in shaping a student’s life. Thanks to one small gesture and the strong bond Ruby shared with her teacher, she successfully broke the cycle and serves as an inspiration to her entire community today.
Meeting Our Teachers & Alumni
The newest members of our family also had a chance to meet and engage with a panel of five spirited alumni and five Akanksha veteran. A spirited question and answer session focussed on themes like ‘What has been your experience at Akanksha’, the life-altering impact of teacher-student connections and long-lasting bonds in the Akanksha family.
The first segment of the orientation ended on a high-note with a check-in conducted by our COO called ‘How are You Feeling Today?’ About a 100 participants of the call unmuted themselves cheered enthusiastically with hope and joy for the days to come, responding with ‘energetic’, ‘cheerful’ and even ‘lively’ on the chatbox. In very signature Akanksha fashion, the first segment brought to a close with a heart-warming video of Akanksha’s journey so far and snapshots of the students.