Alumni Spotlight: Siddhartha Chowdri

This month’s spotlight features Siddhartha Chowdri (The Broad Residency 2014-2016), who is currently becoming a teacher after serving the South Carolina Public Charter School District as their Chief Financial and Operations Officer.

What are you currently working on?
I am currently teaching algebra to 9th graders in Charleston, SC as a member of Teach for America. As a Broad Resident and during my work in charter school authorization, I would occasionally get a chance to visit schools. The moment I would set foot in a classroom I always felt that I should be closer to where the actual teaching and learning is happening. Also, everybody that I know who has been a teacher (particularly through TFA) always say, “teaching is the hardest and most fulfilling job I’ve ever had.” So, it was clear that teaching was for me.

What outcomes do you hope to achieve?
I have two goals for my students. First, I want them all to believe in themselves. Most of my students have little confidence in their ability to learn and I am working with them to develop a growth mindset. Second, I want to significantly increase the number of students that pass the state Algebra exam. In five years I would love for our school to be one that students and families in Charleston opt-in to because of its high academic standards.

What inspires you to do this work?
The students that I work with have so much untapped potential and so I get up every morning excited to try to help them unlock a little more of it each day.

What surprised you most about becoming a teacher?
I feel like having been in “the work” for several years, I entered this calling with my eyes wide open. I understood the data that said I would be teaching 9th graders who are currently doing math at a 4th grade level. I learned about the history of social, racial and economic injustice that leads to these outcomes. However, what surprised me was how little this knowledge means when you are faced with teaching quadratic equations to a 14-year-old that doesn’t know that 50% and a half are the same thing.

What is the last education-related book you read?
I am currently reading, “Get Up or Give Up: How I Almost Gave Up on Teaching” by Michael Bonner.

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