Leading up to the March 16th premiere of The World Got Smaller: The Spirit of The Guild During COVID-19, we’ll be featuring students, residents, staff, and parents interviewed in the film on our blog. First up is Raji Ravichandran, Teacher with The Guild School!:
Can you talk a little bit about your background and how you got involved with human services?
I’m originally from the southern part of India, but I was raised all over the world. I spent much of my childhood in Kuwait, but I went back to India for college and got a bachelor’s degree in business. The following year, I got married and came to the U.S.
I thought I would be a business analyst and do my MBA here, but I quickly realized how hard it was to get a good-paying job in that field. One day, I went to my son’s elementary school and asked the principal if I could help. She told me they were always looking for substitute teachers, so that’s how my career began. I taught as a substitute and started working towards my licensing. I came to The Guild after working at various public schools and nonprofit organizations.
What do you enjoy most in your current role?
I support students who are in the transitional phase and teach them life skills so they can be as independent as they can upon graduating. Seeing how much students progress is rewarding, and they also really value the effort I put in. The other day, one student blurted out, “Oh Raji, she has a heart of gold” – hearing that come out of a student’s mouth is so much more valuable than if it were to come from anyone else. These are things that no other job can give me. I know that I’m making a difference in these students’ lives.
How did the pandemic impact your job responsibilities?
The pandemic impacted all of us a lot. Since some members of my family are immunocompromised, I offered to set up Google classroom and teach remotely. It was challenging and a lot of work, but it ended up being fun. While working in the classroom in person is easier, we all pulled it off and helped each other. I give kudos to all of the staff – everyone came together as a team. It was a whole school effort that made the past year so successful.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m currently going to school and completing a doctoral program in curriculum development, so I don’t have much free time. When I have a moment to myself, I’m very artistic and like to create art. I also love listening to motivational speeches. They help me stay positive and get through the day. Listening to calming music is also something I enjoy. I’m a teacher, student, mom, and wife – so you can imagine my stress level!