My Program Director Experience: Shilpa Sarang
By Meital Caplan
July 14, 2016
Shilpa serves as Northside High School’s English II teacher and the English Language Arts Team Lead. A OneGoal Program Director, her Year 2 Cohort just graduated from high school and are off to college. Here she gives us a glimpse into her experience.
OG: Why did you become a OneGoal Program Director?
SS: As a teacher, I developed collegiate goals for my students but needed support to help the students want those goals for themselves. Instead of working alone, feeling frustrated, and reinventing the wheel (a wobbly one at that!), OneGoal provided me with a team of people who gave me the resources to not only help my students dream big, but to also help them actually reach those dreams. My OneGoal team (other Program Directors and my Directors of Teacher Support) share my passion for wanting students to reach that one goal: college graduation. And they push me to be more revolutionary in my thinking about reaching that one goal than I could ever think to be on my own. Together, we prioritized and re-adjusted curriculum for my kids so that we were responsive to their needs. Most importantly, we proved to my students that people cared about their success, enough to convince them to work toward this college graduation goal.
OG: What has been the most rewarding part of the Program Director experience?
SS: Where to begin? Of course, there were the middle-of-the-night text messages from kids celebrating their acceptance letters and the very gratifying moments when students received their financial aid award letters that made going to college a reality and not just a pipedream. But there are so many other moments, like when a student changed their schedule to include an AP class because we talked about the importance of challenging yourself (Brenda!), or when someone told me that she wanted her success to inspire her sisters (Helen!), or when I’d hear a student maturely discuss why he was not doing so well in a class and what he could do to get help (Juan!).
There were also the talks about the future, when I’d see a student who previously felt vague about what he wanted to pursue as his career suddenly veer into talking about having a purpose and making a difference. I had a student with such a rocky two years that sometimes his mom and I could only pray. But he wrote the best personal statement about learning from his mistakes I have ever read from a student. It was so sincere that even the English teacher in me didn’t want to adjust it, and he won an incredible scholarship with it. He now has a renewed sense of hope and self-confidence with which to start his blank slate in college.
I think what I’m trying to say is that the most rewarding part of my OneGoal experience is being able to work with kids over the course of several years and be a part of their journey, knowing that none of them will ever feel like no one was there for them. They will always know that there was a group of people who want them to succeed.
OG: What would you want to tell a teacher who’s considering becoming a Program Director?
SS: There is no better experience than OneGoal to help you to genuinely understand what a privilege it is to be a teacher.