Monday, June 28, 2010

Off the beaten path...

I am just beginning Week 3 of my fellowship with Education Pioneers in Chicago. I definitely wasn’t mentally prepared for the 2 hour commute to and from work even after a month long vacation in India. I am working with Chicago Public Schools in their Office of School Turnaround. If you are like me on Day 1, I had no idea what that meant. The most underperforming schools in the district go through a process called Turnaround. The idea is to reform the school by providing the school with adequate resources, a highly trained staff, infrastructure improvements and community engagement. The staff at OST is unlike what I expected – the culture in the organization is very entrepreneurial and feels like a small company startup. Most people bounce from desk to desk and the open seating in the office makes even the directors of organization seem very approachable. One of my directors took a few interns to visit a school that had recently undergone the turnaround process. The school is located in Englewood, reputed to be one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country. The staff and students at the school exuded optimism, passion and confidence. I was absolutely blown away by the incredible results they had accomplished despite their challenging circumstances and excited to have the opportunity to contribute and further their success. As part of the fellowship experience, we also have weekly workshops focused on challenges within the educational sector. The other fellows hail from diverse educational backgrounds in education, law and public policy. Although I am the only fellow from Kelley, there are several other MBA’s from prestigious universities like Harvard, Stanford, Booth and Kellogg. Weekly networking and social events keep us really busy - in fact I need to start planning for the Education Pioneers Iron Chef Challenge Appetizer Round! Grand Prize – bragging rights and the honor of cooking in an industrial kitchen for the final competition. Allez Cuisine!

Name: Neha Kale
GradYear: 2011
City: Chicago
State: IL

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