I grew up in India as the youngest of four children. Both of my parents devoted their entire lives to the field of education - my father was an administrator in the department of education in one of the states of India and my mother was a trained teacher. My parents were very actively involved in our education, always supporting and encouraging us. Ever since I was in the elementary school, I dreamed of making a difference by working in the field of education and I consider myself very fortunate to have realized that dream.
Before I came to the United States in 1990, I had over 10 years of professional experience in my native country, India, as a high school teacher and coordinator of projects that provided training to grassroots-level early childhood education workers, school professionals and administrators. In the US, after struggling in the job market for a few years as someone who had two master's degrees from an "underdeveloped country", I finally enrolled in our school's doctoral program in Educational Leadership and Innovation with a focus on Integrated Services for Families and Children. During my second semester in the doctoral program, Dr. Nancy French, the founder of the Paraprofessional Resource and Research (PAR2A) Center (PAR2A Center), hired me as a graduate assistant on a project that studied the role of paraprofessionals in inclusion. This was the beginning of a new chapter in my professional life and my initiation into the field of paraprofessionals. Twelve years later, as the Center grew and developed, I have grown along with it and I currently hold the position of the Executive Director of the Center. It has been an amazing journey and I still believe that accepting that graduate assistant position 12 year ago was one of the best decisions of my life.
My Work at University of Colorado Denver:
Our Center is the premier source of information for educational paraprofessionals (paraeducators) in Colorado and beyond. Our Center houses a variety of projects that are funded from national, state and local sources and focused on policies and practices regarding the employment of paraeducators in regular education, special education, English language acquisition, Title I programs, and early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities. We consider paraprofessionals as vital members of the educational teams and believe that their employers must support and utilize them effectively. Our mission at the PAR2A Center is to advocate for paraprofessionals and develop policies and guidelines through a) research on the roles, responsibilities, career development, preparation, supervision, and employment of paraprofessionals and b) preparation and training of paraprofessionals and professionals who supervise them. We strongly believe that paraprofessionals who are adequately trained and supervised have a major role in making optimum learning possible for all students . Collaboration and inclusion of all students in schools is the underlying philosophy of all the work that we do.
In addition, as adjunct faculty at CU Boulder, I enjoy teaching a course on Parent and Community Involvement which allows me to share my experiences as a child of parents who were very involved and as well as a parent who is constantly learning by staying actively involved in my own child's formal and informal education.
My Research Interests:
- Paraprofessional Issues (Training, Supervision, and Utilization)
- Parent Involvement and Empowerment
- Collaboration for Inclusive practices
- Leadership in inclusive schools
I love cooking. Of course, I am most comfortable with cooking Indian food but I do a fairly decent job at cooking dishes from other parts of the world. I like to collect cookbooks but very rarely follow recipes - I like to experiment and adapt recipes to create my own and the results are typically well appreciated by my family and friends. Someday, I hope to write a cookbook of quick and healthy one dish meals!;
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