Faculty Spotlight: Githa Natarajan

Githa Natarajan

Githa Natarajan is committed to educating students, colleagues, families, and the community by establishing strong connections.  She was recognized as State Teacher of the Year for Washington, D.C. in 2007 and in 2008 she was a fellow at the Aspen Institute Ideas Festival. She began her teaching career in her home town of Toronto, Canada. After moving to Washington, DC she taught kindergarten, second and third grade in the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) for twelve years. She has also taught second and third grade at Georgetown Day School (GDS) for eight years and was the assistant principal at GDS Lower School.

Her vast experience has fostered her growth as a progressive educator and activist for social change. Githa is committed to helping her students achieve their full potential.

We are excited to welcome Githa to the Whittle School & Studios community as a Lower School Faculty member.

 

Q: What’s your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to? And what did you learn from the experience?

A: My background is Indian, and my parents are from Guyana. We came from India many generations back; it is not a direct lineage as we migrated. Visiting India helped me understand some of the experiences and history of my Guyanese culture. That trip was a bridge that helped me connect to my roots. The first time I went to India about 20 years ago, I was really amazed. When you live in the US and Canada, you see a diversity of people. However, when I went to India, there is not a diversity of people, but instead, a diversity of regions and cultures. I didn’t speak the language, but I blended in. The moment I spoke, people knew I was not from India. They were fascinated to hear my story.

Githa with her children at a wedding
Githa with her children at a wedding.

 

Q: If you were a Whittle student, which campus would you travel to and why?

A: If I were a Whittle student, I would love to have the experience of living in London and living in India to better understand my own roots. This would give me the opportunity to connect in a deeper and more profound way with my own cultural heritage.

Being able to empathize and live in somebody else’s shoes offers a different perspective than that of a visitor. Members of my family in India moved to Texas about three or four years ago. Their children came from India and started their American education in middle school. That experience was very different for them. Moving to another country is hard as it is but moving to another country and another school is immeasurably difficult. Whittle students will be able to visit another country while attending the same school. At what other K-12 school in the world will students have the same opportunity?

 

Q: What initially inspired you to teach?

A: My inspiration came from my kindergarten teacher, in staying connected with her and her being a part of my journey and my life from the age of 5. She was a great inspiration for me.

 

Q: What subject do you most enjoy teaching?

A: I love teaching social studies and social emotional learning. Most recently, my class has been discussing colonial America and studying colonial times during our history block. We are also studying enslaved people and talking about what the history of the United States means today, and how that has shaped our present day status as a society.

 

Q: Please share a favorite project you have completed as a class?

A: One of my favorite projects this year built off of the work of Canadian Pop-Artist Maria Qamar. Qamar uses graphic design to depict herself in the context of her culture. Each student then reproduced Qamar’s iconic “I burned the rotis (Indian flatbread)” image, but in the context of their own family heritage. This project helped students understand themselves both as individuals and as members of a community.

A self portrait project inspired by South Asian Pop Artist Maria Qamar.
A self portrait project inspired by South Asian Pop Artist Maria Qamar.

 

 

Githa Natarajan is just one of our faculty members passionate about igniting global education in the lives of our students. Keep an eye out for more opportunities to get to know our teachers, or attend one of our upcoming events to meet our team and learn more about our mission.