Maya Kaul '09 attended ACDS from the 4-year-olds program to 8th grade. She graduated from Pomona College in 2017 with a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and went on to study Finnish teacher education and development at the University of Helsinki as a Fulbright Scholar. She then went on to serve as a Research and Policy Assistant at the Learning Policy Institute, where she was a key member of the California Performance Assessment Collaborative team. Update as of October 2021 - Maya is currently an Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Predoctoral Fellow, William B. and Roberta V. Castetter Fellow, and Ph.D. student in Education Policy at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education with an anticipated graduation in May 2023.
Maya has a number of favorite ACDS traditions that she says, “helped cultivate the really close sense of community that is so central to ACDS’s model.” But she is particularly grateful for the International Fair which provided her the critical space to learn about her cultural heritage, take pride in her identity, and also be exposed to her peers’ varied cultural backgrounds and traditions.
A Speech and Debate elective with Mr. Wardner was the beginning of a near decade-long involvement as a debater and coach through high school and college. Maya fondly remembers the time Mr. Wardner spent time fine tuning her speeches and helping her work on her presentation skills, and says that he taught her the “invaluable lesson that my voice mattered.”
ACDS helped Maya “cultivate a deep appreciation for the sort of relationships that are possible within small, tightly-knit environments” and affected her decision to attend Pomona College, a small liberal arts college. She adds, “Personal context always matters, and my experiences at ACDS are foundational to my work in education today.”
Maya’s advice to younger alumni and current students, is to be curious. Unlike a growing number of schools, “ACDS is a really special place in that you’re encouraged to be creative, to ask big questions, and to learn about the things that most interest you.”
To the prospective family, she says, “The deeper I dive into the world of education policy and research, the more I realize how transformative the sort of ‘whole child’ framework of education ACDS embraces really is. Research indicates that the core features of ACDS’s model – where students’ social-emotional needs are prioritized alongside their academic ones – are critical to supporting both the academic achievement and healthy development of children. ACDS is a gem within schools in the Bay Area that has preserved this very attention to educating the whole child, even amidst growing competitive pressure to adhere to educational practices that often misconstrued as being necessary for the sake of ‘rigor.’ In reality, these ultra-competitive environments often do more harm than good for even the students who are understood to be ‘thriving’ without those contexts.”
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