Stratford's founder Sherry Adams has described Stratford's philosophy as, "Minds on, hands on, and hearts on." No one knows this better than Ekta Vasishth, a teacher at Stratford School's San Francisco De Montfort campus who started the Team Positive project. She hopes that the program, which was inspired by her childhood in India, helps her students develop the values and skills to make the world a better place by doing meaningful work through a hearts-on approach. Read more about the Team Positive project in our interview with Ms. Vasishth!
Tell us about Team Positive and how it got started.
Along with a few 4th and 5th grade students at our San Francisco campus I founded Team Positive in November 2017. Team Positive is a project that aims to support the education of female children in India through selling canvas totes designed by the students.
Growing up in India, I was exposed to a large disparity when it came to the education children received. I was most impacted by the sight of female children working at construction sites and providing domestic help to affluent families instead of being in a classroom where they should have been. Unfortunately, despite my empathetic feelings for these girls I didn’t do much about it.
Thirty years later, along with my principal, Rachel Altreuter’s support and encouragement, and our students’ leadership, I was finally able to go from simply being empathetic to taking action. And because of this desire to take action, Team Positive was formed. This project is aligned with values our students and staff hold dearly.
How does Team Positive relate to the Character Counts program?
At Stratford we learn about the six character traits: Responsibility, Fairness, Trustworthiness, Caring, Citizenship, and Respect. Project Positive has been developed to live up to these traits. As a team we have a vision of a world where there is equal opportunity for all children. Through our weekly meetings, our team works diligently to meet project deadlines. In addition to the hard work our team puts in we share a common set of values and are determined to create better opportunities for female children. Thus, Project Positive is a demonstration of responsible, selfless students working towards making this world a better place.
How did the Team Positive fundraiser come about to support the Nanhi Kali organization?
Nanhi Kali is an organization based in India that supports education of underprivileged girls. I came to know about the organization through my son, Rohan Vasishth. While we were living in India a few years ago, my son initiated a similar project at his school to support the education of underprivileged girls, which became my inspiration as well. He had researched a few organizations to support and came across the great work Nanhi Kali does with supporting the girls with their education. In addition to providing academic support to the girls, Nanhi Kali also provides uniform, school bags, shoes, and basic hygiene material to them. Because of the well-rounded support it provides to female children, we chose Nanhi Kali.
How did the team decide on which organization to support and why?
The aim of the project is to support education of underprivileged girls and provide a learning experience for our students. As I was thinking about the project, I wanted it to be designed by the kids, sold by kids, for the benefit of the kids. Already knowing the great work Nanhi Kali does, I decided to expose their work to our students and got them excited to support the organization.