Meet Our Office: Rajeshri Gandhi Bhatia
October 23, 2017
Rajeshri Gandhi Bhatia is one of the latest additions to the GVSU CSO team. Rajeshri (pronounced "rah-JAY-shree") joined us in mid-September as a school consultant who will work primarily with our schools in Metro Detroit.
Rajeshri found her passion for education when she was an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. She volunteered to coach her younger brother and his classmates in a problem-solving competition and found that she really enjoyed working with K-12 students. She quickly changed her major and started studying education, eventually graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Education with majors in math and science and a minor in language arts.
Rajeshri's was introduced to the concept of charter schools during her time at Harvard University in the early 2000s. She was completing her Ed.M. in School Leadership when she attended a presentation about charter schools. She was hooked on the idea and was passionate about starting her own school. She eventually connected with a group in Chicago that was starting a charter school primarily for immigrant students in grades PreK-3. Rajeshri became the school's first principal and led Passages Charter School for two years.
Following Passages Charter School, Rajeshri moved to California and lived there for ten years, holding a variety of school leadership positions. She was the Director of Admissions and Marketing as well as the Assistant Head of Curriculum at a private school in Long Beach, CA., and helped turn around a high school as the Dean of Faculty and Dean of Education. Rajeshri kept an eye on Michigan's education landscape from afar, returning a few years ago because she felt that "something great is going to happen, and I want to be a part of it."
In her role with the GVSU CSO, Rajeshri plans to help school boards connect day-to-day information with big picture goals. She is also excited to offer new resources to schools and is committed to continuously instilling passion in school leaders.
What is the first piece of advice you would offer to new
school board members?
Remember what their role is, and to continually ensure trust and understanding in the people running [the school] on their behalf. Distrust will cause friction. They should also set their expectations accordingly and find a balance. Don’t hold yourself back planning for five years down the road, but don’t push yourself so much that you’re not recognizing what you have in your school in your first year.
Do you have any favorite book(s) you would recommend to
educators, or just people in general?
I have two. The first is "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho. I’ve read it a couple times at different points in my life and got very different things from it. And I really like the Malcolm Gladwell books; I think "The Tipping Point" still stands out to me. When we start looking at things from that kind of perspective, it gives you inspiration to understand how our daily actions can sort of make big changes.
Who is your mentor or somebody that inspired you?
When I got to Harvard, I had wanted to get into the school leadership program. You needed four years of experience and I only had two, but I decided to apply anyway. When I got my acceptance letter, they said I didn't get accepted into the school leadership program but should still join their "general" masters program. When I got there, all the classes I wanted were part of the school leadership program. So I went and met with the program leader and told her that was what I really wanted to do. She listened to me and said, "Ok, I’ll let you in the program, but I’m watching you.”
Since she ran the program I had a couple classes with her and some electives. She’s a big thinker; she's a former math teacher who does a lot of work in the area of charters and quality, so she and I have stayed in touch. I can just call her and say, "So this is what we’re seeing here," and she would say, '"Well, in Massachusetts they do this, and in Nevada they are doing that, and here is somebody in Colorado you can call.”
What do you like to do for fun?
I spend a lot of time with my daughter and husband and our extended family here in Detroit. We like to travel and explore new things. My husband and I also enjoy cooking. We love to cook, eat and just be social.