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In Conversation With Parul Kumar

Nirmala Garimella

Teachers typically are found to be closely related to academia all their lives. But few can be found and speak so knowingly of a profession than Parul Kumar who moved from working in an industry for many years to becoming a High School teacher later on. Pursuing a passion that didn’t feature in her original career option, Parul Kumar now teaches Chemistry at the Lexington High School and loves every minute of it.


A Graduate of Chemistry from The Lucknow University, she started her career at CSIR in Medicinal Chemistry, worked in Bangkok for 5 years, moved to Phoenix where she worked in the field of research in a industry setting before coming to Lexington as a teacher. She was one of the early participants  of the first-ever class of the Leadership Initiatives For Teaching and Technology (LIFT2) program, organized by the Metro South/West Regional Employment Board.

As part of the Program, Parul Kumar, a chemistry teacher did her externship with Transform Pharmaceuticals in Lexington.The idea behind  LIFT2 was to get to students through their teachers by enhancing their science, technology, math and engineering skills. These skills are then incorporated into the teachers’ curricula.  


Naturally, one wonders, how someone with such a varied background opts to become a school teacher and a High School one at that: Lokvani caught up with her on a snowy day at her home in Lexington to ask her this question and many more.


 What led you to become a teacher?


I have always wanted to teach and be with the students. I remember taking classes at a community college once and wonder how wonderful it would be to teach just like these teachers did. I learnt so much being taught that the enthusiasm grew. I started taking a few classes initially when we moved here first to Norwood. Then when I heard about Lexington hiring teachers, I applied and here I am.


But why at a High  school?


I enjoy working with teenagers. They are so full of energy and motivated. This is also a crucial time in their lives. I feel if they work hard and can be channelised in the right direction, this is the time.  And then she smiles and says “It is also wonderful to see them retain their childlike quality in them along with their new found maturity. I teach Chemistry to the junior year at the school. Teaching is a challenging profession. But the accompanying satisfaction when you can make a difference to even one child in your class is enormous.


 What kind of relationship do you have with your students?


Very informal and friendly. There is none of that “I am the teacher, you are the student, and you obey me, kind of a thing”.  Of course respect is essential. Also I understand that today’s kids are very heavily scheduled. They are continuously busy. Sometimes I think it is good because they are not idle. I find parents are also very supporting and involved of their children’s extra curricular activities.


What differences do you find in the teaching methods here and in India?


I can talk from my own experience, I remember that we had to a lot of theoretical knowledge, probably much more than kids here in the same grade, but the application of this knowledge was missing. Here the ‘hands on learning’ and real life experiences make it more vibrant and fun, I think students learn more in the end from this method.


Here the students when taught from the curriculum demand “show me how the concepts work” and that is a totally different learning methodology. Very often I find myself relating from my industry experience in teaching them these concepts and they seem to like that.


What other activities are you involved in the school?


Coming from a Science background, I am fascinated with technology. I had applied for a grant for a MIMIO (SMART BOARDS) last year which has enhanced the students learning in the classroom. I am also the Advisor for the National Honors Society. This is a great Program when students do community service as part of the Society’s requirement. During the summer break, I go back to do some work in the industry.  I love research so that interest is still kept alive.


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Parul Kumar

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