August 20, 2012

Education Pioneers [Part 2 of 2]

Part 2 by:
Pammi Bhullar, MBA 2013
Renato Orozco, MBA 2013
Dana Connolly, MS-MBA 2013

PAMMI BHULLAR – MBA Class of 2013, PNP -- BOSTON COHORT [Boston Public Schools]

Pammi (left), with some Boston fellows

This summer I worked in the Finance and Budget Office at Boston Public Schools (BPS). BPS is dedicated to improving student achievement by providing the leadership, procedures, systems, and customer support necessary for principals to maximize teacher effectiveness. As a Fellow, I collaborated with central office and school leaders to build a culture of documenting and effectively communicating policies and procedures. My ability to empower employees to execute a cultural change on their own and to effectively communicate solutions in a simple manner enabled BPS to decrease the time spent on transactional issues and more time on empowering leaders to make financial decisions. In the long-term this will support principals in the instructional and managerial aspects of creating more effective, better prepared teachers.

A combination of my EP experience and honest feedback I've received along the way has directed me to a career in empowering others to achieve their potential. This could be through leading professional development or fellowship programs, or through empowerment initiatives for communities through capacity building.

Through EP workshops, visiting schools, and working at Boston Public Schools I gained tremendous insight into several aspects of the educational system, including teacher evaluations, weighted student funding, after-school student learning opportunities, and labor relations. This well-rounded exposure to a sector deeply in need of reform has challenged my initial perspective on what it takes to prepare students for the working world.

During the summer, I became friends with an ambitious young lady and EP Fellow who recently started a nonprofit called FuelEd. Through our connection at EP, we became friends and I was able to contribute to her organization and witness its exceptional growth during its first year of operations. Seeing her dedication to developing teachers' capacity for building more effective relationships with students has been inspirational.

RENATO OROZCO: MBA Class of 2013, PNP -- NEW YORK CITY COHORT [Teach for America]

Renato (left), and a few other NYC Fellows

Teach for America supports, prepares and develops 10,000 teachers to face the challenge of closing the achievement gap in the United States. As a Fellow with the Strategy & Innovation team, I evaluated pilot projects and created a snapshot of how resources are being allocated to support teachers. This analysis was subsequently used to inform TFA's senior leadership on what projects should be scaled-up.

My previous professional background is on business and government. Since I had never worked in a nonprofit, this experience helped me to confirm this industry as my post-MBA career objective.

Through EP workshops, interacting with other EP Fellows and working at TFA I gained tremendous insight into several aspects of the educational system and challenges related to improving education.

I had the chance to organize an EPU (Ed. Pioneers Unplugged Workshop) where I and other fellows pitched our start-up ideas to the audience, receiving feedback. It was great to have so many people help to think through my project and contribute with their advice.


Dana (3rd from left), and other Bay Area fellows during a trip to Sonoma

KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) is the name associated with a network of charter schools that began with just two teachers in a single classroom and has grown to more than 2,700 teachers serving more than 39,000 kids in 125 schools across the country. The KIPP Foundation was created in order to grow this network by training outstanding school leaders to open and operate autonomous KIPP schools and supporting excellence and sustainability across the network and leading network-wide innovation efforts.

My specific role was to support the Talent Team, which is responsible for the acquisition, development, and retention of superstars who will maintain the extraordinary momentum of the Foundation and in turn support the growing nature of the KIPP network. I created the first ever “State of the Talent” report to analyze trends regarding turnover rates, professional development opportunities, alignment with core values, and other aspects that define the nature of the Talent at KIPP Foundation; essentially a story-telling tool to influence strategic human capital decisions for the near future.

My intended career path is still hazy, but as a result of this summer I have at the very least become more aware of the breadth of career possibilities that exist within the education sector. This experience confirmed for me that I want to work for organizations or companies that have children (and/or other populations who require a great deal community support to thrive) at their primary core. I’ve been reassured that my degrees and experiences can absolutely be used to help others realize opportunities, achievements, and happiness that they might otherwise be denied.

Another lasting benefit of this summer is the network that I’ve become a part of – and not just with my cohort and Bay Area alumni. I feel a deep connection to all past, present and future Education Pioneers and am incredibly humbled (and still bewildered as to how I even got this opportunity) that I will forever be associated with these people who are amazingly brilliant, driven, and compassionate.

I personally had never spent more than 2 weeks away from my beloved East Coast, but once the Dunkin Donuts withdrawal wore off and I realized that it’s ok to wear a coat in July, I absolutely loved the Bay Area! I got to bond with my Cohort over tacos, street festivals, hiking trips, stoplight parties, after-work discussions, brown-bag lunch sessions, and a party bus to wine country.


To me it seems that the best words to describe the feeling that all six of us are walking away with after this summer are “inspired” and “invigorated” (We’re also relieved that no one was bitten by snakes or had their oxen get ill along the way). The summer gave us exposure into some of the fantastic work that is being done in the education sector and also ignited an undeniable spark to be ready and optimistic about the work that still needs to be tackled so that all kids can have the same access to a phenomenal education and in turn the same chances to achieve in the classroom and far beyond.

Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment