Cyrus Vakil, Principal, Teacher - ToK
Dr. Vakil joined as Principal in August 2016. Speaking of the vision of the BIS founders and trustees, and school heads through Mrs. Seervai, he paraphrases Newton, “If we see further today it is because we stand on the shoulders of giants.” He is eager to sustain BIS’s unique ethos amid the pressures of commodification in Indian education, while maintaining BIS’s openness to change. “This openness was again evident in BIS migrating to international curriculums earlier in this decade, and excelling in their delivery,” he adds.
Dr. Vakil joins BIS after 18 years as an early pioneer of the IBDP in India, Mahindra UWC, where he headed Academics since 2000, was Deputy Head for over a decade, and where his family is still based. He taught IB History continuously from 1998 and 2016. He began teaching TOK in 2010, and continues to teach it at BIS. He had taught in the mid-‘90s at both Wesleyan University and at Yale, where he did his masters and doctorate in 19th century economic and cultural history.
His work with the IBO has included school authorizations ranging from South Bombay to rural Malaysia, and being one of the co-founders of SAIBSA. What he is most proud of is developing a curriculum at MUWCI that was then converted by the IB, in partnership with Howard Gardner’s Harvard Project Zero, into its first interdisciplinary EE — World Studies. In Indian education, he was part of the team of educators that devised the current National Curriculum Framework, chairing the Exam Reforms Focus Group.
He tries to find time to play badminton, table tennis and Ultimate Frisbee with his family on weekends, and works on developing his patience and spatial skills by making giant jigsaws with his older son during vacations. When kids and emails allow, he follows Indian stock markets and plays bridge online.
Supriya Atal, Head International Curriculum, Teacher of DP Business Management(BM), Theory of Knowledge(ToK), IGCSE Global Perspectives (GP)
Supriya has been at BIS since November 2013 and works with programme coordinators and teachers on curriculum design, alignment and delivery for grades 6-12. Currently, she is developing a framework for teacher development through instructional coaching and in-school workshops. Her favourite themes for BIS are assessment for learning, innovative methods of delivery and teacher empowerment. An alumna of IIM(A), She played a key role in setting up the IBDP at Jamnabai Narsee School (2005–2007). Subsequently, at Dhirubhai Ambani International School (2007–2013) she worked in DP coordination and various pedagogical leadership roles. She was part of the Extended Essay Curriculum Review (Cardiff, 2010) and Grade Award Meetings for BM (Cardiff, 2005). She has led workshops since 2010 including Business Management, Extended Essay, DP Coordination, DP Concepts and Inquiry, Understanding the DP in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Melbourne, Singapore, Thailand and India. She has served on IB, Global School Services (USA) as ‘Design Service Team Member’ to pilot the PYP-MYP-DP Curriculum Connections service (Sept-Dec 2013). She keeps herself updated by participating in international education conventions and conferences. In her IBE roles as a Site Visiting Team Member and Consultant, she enjoys supporting upcoming IB schools in the region. Supriya was appointed as the Asia Pacific Representative on the IB Diploma Review Committee from March 2016 – October 2018.
Priya Aga, Diploma Programme Coordinator, Teacher - Psychology
Priya holds a Masters Degree in Psychology with a specialization in Industrial Psychology from the Bombay University and a Bachelors degree in Education. In addition to being the DP Coordinator, she teaches DP Psychology and has been a member of the IBDP team at BIS since 2012. She has participated in job alike workshops, the Category 2 workshop held in Mumbai in 2014, and in the Subject Specific Seminar held in Bangalore in February 2017.
Her teaching experience spans over different subjects, age groups and curricula. She has taught music to toddlers, French at the junior college level in St. Xavier’s College, French at the MYP level at the Mercedes Benz International School, Pune, French at the ICSE level at Bombay Scottish School and of course, Psychology. Priya finds that teaching young adults is always interesting, invigorating, rewarding and often challenging! She believes that to be a successful teacher to students of this age, one must demonstrate a sincerity and honest commitment to the profession. She is passionate about both her profession and her subject and hopes to enthuse her students to become lifelong learners. Besides teaching, her great joy is music. She has studied formal music for over 15 years and has been a performer at the piano and percussion with the Bombay Chamber Orchestra. She is currently an active member of the Paranjoti Academy Chorus which is a renowned a capella choir.
Smriti Jaiswal, Team Leader English A
Smriti has done her M.A. in Literature from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu and an MA in Literature and Creative Writing as a Fulbright Scholar from Temple University, Philadelphia. She later went on to get an MFA in Creative Writing from North Carolina State University. She worked for several years in the United States as a Teaching Assistant. She has conducted several writing courses for undergraduate as well as doctoral students. She has attended the IB Category 1 Language and Literature Workshop. She joined BIS in 2013 and teaches both Literature and Language & Literature to IBDP students and also teaches English to Senior School students. A published author, she writes regularly and her short stories have been featured in several collections of short stories, blogs and periodicals. She was the founder and editor of an award-winning literary magazine called The Raleigh Review in the United States. She reads extensively and is passionate about teaching. She has co-authored a full length book published by Zubaan and is currently working on translating a collection of short stories from Nepali to English as well as on her first novel. Her teaching philosophy can be summed up in the words of Phil Collins:” In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”
Rashmi Palkhivala, English A
Rashmi has her initial qualifications in English Literature and Law. She has a post graduate qualification in Social Communications Media. She also has an English language teaching qualification – CELTA from the British Council.
She is married into a family that has been associated with the school since its inception and she has, over the years, volunteered at the school in many capacities. She has taught English, Creative Writing and Drama in several other schools as well. Having been involved in the Mumbai theatre scene in her youth, she carried on working with drama involving children and teenagers.
She enjoys writing and has written a children’s history book on Mumbai, called ‘Samundari City’, which is prescribed syllabus in several schools around the city. She has edited several books over the years. She has worked with the Centre for Environmental Research and Education (CERE) and co-edited an academic textbook and workbook called the ‘Wisdom of Words’. She has taught various educational modules for the CERE, aiming to create environmental awareness in children through Literature. She is the author of several plays, with social, political or environmental themes, many of which have been performed with the senior school section of the J. B. Petit School, Mumbai. She has just finished writing a biography on Shri B. K. S. Iyengar for Harper Collins, India. She has esoteric interests in mud building, composting garbage and organic farming, all of which come from being a thwarted farmer.
To her, the most wonderful thing about teaching is being inspired by the vibrancy of her students’ intellects and their energy.
Madhulika Karwa, Spanish ab initio
Madhulika teaches Spanish ab initio at BIS. Her previous years spent working at the Consulate General of Spain in Mumbai reinforced her love for the language.
She has an international diploma in Spanish as a foreign language (DELE C1 – nlvel superior) from the University of Cervantes, Spain. She has attended the IBDP category 1 workshop for Spanish ab initio teachers at Oberoi International School in February 2015.
After graduating from Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics she went on to do a diploma in Social Communications Media (SCM) from the Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai. She then joined TV18-CNBC as a TV journalist for the next few years with the channel Star Plus, shooting and editing short stories for The Amul India Show.
She is excited about her role as a teacher and hopes to keep on learning and introduce her students to the Hispanic culture along with the language.
Anuradha Sorabjee, German B
Anuradha studied Business in Austria and completed her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and International Trade from the University of Business Administration in Vienna. She then moved to India and pursued a Postgraduate Diploma in Indian Aesthetics. Being half-Austrian, she is fluent in both German and English and is the German Language teacher for IGCSE and IBDP students. Anuradha’s background, because of her roots in both Austria and India, gives her a truly international perspective and she is thus passionate about the cultures, crafts, art, music and history of both countries. She is able to share her international upbringing and global mind-set with her students and strives to enhance their outlook towards a global world.
Shalu Avasthi, Hindi B
Shalu has been teaching Hindi at BIS for several years to Senior School and also teaches the students of the Diploma programme. She has a Master’s degree in Hindi and has also completed her B.Ed. She has attended IGCSE cell meetings and CIE workshops for Hindi as well as the IBDP Category 1 and 2 workshops for Hindi B. She loves being with students and is passionate about igniting a love for our national language in our students. She enjoys dance, music and meeting people.
Gehna Hingorani, Business Management and Team Leader, Interdisciplinary Studies
Gehna has a Master’s degree in Management Studies. A highly experienced teacher, she was a lecturer and the Coordinator at the BMS programme since its inception at the prestigious H.R. College for 11 years. Her forte at the college was forging industry-academia linkages. She also led two faculty delegations to eminent universities’ at the U.K and South Africa to study their academic best practices. She taught a summer programme at NJIT University in the U.S. and observed a summer marketing course at LSE, U.K. Gehna was also actively involved in training and development at H.R. College and conducted various workshops on contemporary management topics and academic innovations. At BIS, she teaches Business Management and has attended the DP Category 1 Workshop in Business & Management, DP Category 3 in Business Management and DP Category 3 ATL in the Diploma Programme. Gehna is co-leads the Cultures of Thinking programme at the school and co-presented a paper on Cultures of Thinking at the IB Conference in Barcelona in September 2016. She also co-presented a paper on “Can Human imaginative intelligence (II)
Beat Artificial intelligence (AI)?” at the IB Heads conference in Singapore in March 2018.
Outside of teaching, Gehna’s other love is music and she is a registered teacher at Music Together. She loves to travel and explore exotic destinations. She believes in encouraging dynamic, innovative, application-based learning. Her effort has always been to link contemporary events in the world and the students’ own life experiences to her classes. She believes that the teaching and learning is a two way process and that the teachers’ have as much to gain if not more from their interaction with student.
Vidya Vageesh, History, Team Leader for Middle School Integrated Humanities and EE Coordinator
Vidya Vageesh has a Masters Degree in History and a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from the University of Bombay.She has 20 years of experience in teaching English and Social Sciences. She has attended the IBDP Category 2 & 3 workshops in History and is an examiner for IB History. She has previously worked in Udayachal High School [Godrej & Boyce – Mumbai], Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School [Chennai] and Sophia College for Arts and Science [Mumbai]. She is a MUN advisor has led school delegations to various Model UN Programmes including BUSUN at Brown University, Providence. She visited schools in the U.S.A. as a part of the Rotary Exchange Programme in 2001. She led a delegation of students to the Methodist Girls School, Singapore as a part of the Educational Exchange Programme in 2008. She enjoys teaching History, and her constant endeavour is to make her subject interesting and relevant.
Nima Choksi, Economics
Nima has completed her Bachelor Of Science in Economics degree from Purdue University, Indiana. She joined BIS in April 2016 and teaches Economics SL and HL to our IBDP students. She has attended the IB Category -1 workshop in 2013. She has previously been a teaching assistant at Purdue University and has taught Economics IGCSE and IB for three years at another prestigious IB school in Mumbai and is an IB examiner.
She would certainly want her students to learn the fundamental concepts of economics. Beyond that, she hopes to facilitate classes that inculcate life-long learning skills in her students. She strives to use student-centered learning principles in class. She relates theoretical economic concepts that students learn in class to current world events. This ensures that the students appreciate the relevance and utility of what they are learning, which invariably helps them stay motivated and keeps them engaged in class.
Further, she is deeply mindful of the uniqueness that each student brings to class and values the individuality that enriches her classroom environment. She believes her conduct in the classroom exudes her passion for teaching and she works towards relaying her enthusiasm for economics to her students.
Heena Jaffer, Psychology
Heena holds a dual qualification, a Bachelor’s Degree in both Sociology and Psychology. She holds a Diploma in Interior Design from Nirmala Niketan. She has worked extensively with adolescents and has attended the International Adolescent Education Program conducted by the IIS London. Heena has been a core team member and faculty at the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) for twelve years. She was the Chairperson of the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board for three years. She joined BIS in 2011 and has attended an IB Psychology Category 2 workshop in Dubai; an ATL (Approaches to Teaching and Learning) Category 3 workshop, and the TAISI 2015 conference. She attended the Subject Specific Seminar held in Bangalore in February 2017.
Heena is also co-leading the Cultures of Thinking programme at the school and co-presented a paper on Cultures of Thinking at the IB Conference in Barcelona in September 2016.
She believes that the two most important qualities that work well for her as a teacher are fairness and creativity. She believes children are always willing to learn; though sometimes they may not like being ‘taught’. She strives to make her classes engaging since she feels that students are ‘learning partners’ in the teaching-learning process. She loves children, she loves the subject that she teaches, and she loves teaching. She enjoys Yoga and travelling.
Disha Sengupta, Biology and Team Leader Science Experimentation 9-12
Disha has completed her Bachelors degree in Microbiology from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata and Masters by research in Biology from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai. She teaches Biology (HL & SL) to IBDP students and has attended the IBDP category 1/2 workshop in Biology.
She has considerable research experience in the field of Biological Science. She has worked on and published papers in International Journals about discovering and analysing new vaccine targets against malaria with Dr. Shobhona Sharma at TIFR, Mumbai. She has trained many young researchers and has been associated with various outreach programs. Science education has always been her passion and she has taught students in the past through volunteer work. She believes that science and technology is essential for development of our society and for securing our future. She is also the Science Experimentation Team Leader for grade 9-12. She wants to inculcate the love for science, inquisitiveness and the ability to reason in her students.
Nandakumar Menon, Physics
Nandakumar has a Masters in Physics and has taught Physics and Math in the IB Diploma Programme as well as the A-levels before he moved to BIS. He has attended the IBDP Category 2 workshop in Physics in 2011 and, more recently, the Category 3 Subject Specific Seminar in Physics. He has previously worked in Research and Development in the electronics industry but found his calling in teaching and feels that his experience and knowledge can be put to better use in this vocation. As a student, he found that he enjoyed those classes more where applications and history of the subject were discussed and now he gives back to the system by following that practice in his own teaching. He continues to be involved in research work in Physics. Nandakumar also has a keen interest in Indian philosophy and music. He firmly believes that a teacher’s own interest and enthusiasm for the subject is infectious and will rub off on the students and advocates knowledge for its own sake: the destination being the journey itself.
Swarnabha Ghosh – Physics and Math
Swarnabha finished his B.Sc. with Physics majors from St.Xavier’s College, Mumbai and went on to complete an M.Sc. in Physics from Institute of Science, under Mumbai University.
He is extremely passionate about teaching physics and mathematics. He believes that inquiry based education should be encouraged especially in the field of Physics and Maths. He prefers concepts being introduced through asking questions, exploring novel ideas and constructing arguments which would eventually allow students to think critically and challenge existing paradigms of thought.
Swagata Chakraborty, Chemistry HL
Swagata received her M.Sc. degree in Chemistry from IIT, Delhi, and completed her Ph.D. (Chemistry) from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai. Subsequently, she pursued a post-doctoral fellowship at the Ohio State University, USA. Swagata has published multiple research papers in reputed international journals and has presented my work at several national and international conferences. Apart from conducting state-of-the-art research, she has mentored many Ph.D. students and has been actively involved in science outreach programs. She has also worked as a scientific writer and editor, helping researchers across the world publish their papers in international journals. Besides being a science enthusiast, she is an ardent admirer of visual, performing, and culinary art and enjoy exploring new places.
Swagata teaches Chemistry to IBDP students at BIS and has attended the IBDP Category 1/2 workshop on Chemistry. She strives to implement a constructivist and inquiry-based learning approach in her class, which challenges students to think critically, ask relevant questions, connect ideas and eventually become independent learners. She believes flipped classrooms, where students take responsibility of their own learning by engaging with problems, working collaboratively, learning from peers and evaluating their own progress with minimal intervention from the teacher, provide the most successful learning environment.
Beena Gopinath, Environmental Systems & Socieities, Biology
Beena holds a Master’s Degree in Botany and a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. She teaches Environmental Systems and Societies to IBDP at BIS. Her teaching experience spans subjects, age groups and curricula. She has taught Biology and Environmental science at Hari Sri Vidya Nidhi school Trichur (ISC), St Mary’s School (ICSE) and the Army Public school. She has attended the Category 1 workshop for Environment Systems and Societies in August 2014 in Singapore.
Ritesh Jain, Mathematics SL
Ritesh has a Masters degree in Commerce and is also a qualified C.A. He has taught in K. C. College and K.C.C.M.S. for nine years. He has attended various seminars related to Math and currently teaches Additional Math to IGCSE students and Mathematics SL to IB Diploma Programme students. He has attended the Category 2 Maths SL workshop in New Delhi in September 2014.
His passion for teaching and mentoring makes him walk the extra mile and he feels rewarded when his students remember him fondly even years later. He believes in teaching Math in a holistic manner and he integrates varied disciplines in his teaching of Math using Economics, Physics and even History and Biology.
Christina Macwan, Mathematical Studies
Christina has completed her Bachelor of Education with first class from St. Xavier’s Institute of Education, with special methods of Math and Science, specializing in Inclusive Education. She has completed BSc. with Physics as her majors and Mathematics and Statistics as subjects from the University of Mumbai.
Christina attended the Maths Category 2 workshop in Mumbai in 2016 and is an IB examiner.
Christina is a firm believer in the importance of technology in the classroom. She has recently attended a workshop on technology integration and she is set to share her knowledge and passion with the rest of the faculty. She is interested in expanding her knowledge in the pedagogy of teaching Math and Science. She has completed a mini project in the study of reflective practices of in-service teachers. She believes that reflection on experience is a way to engage and empower students and teachers. As an elected member of the student council of B.Ed batch 2013-14 she has taken proactive steps in organising various events like cultural harmony day, fellowship meals, valedictory day video, social engagements with the community. She is currently pursuing Master of Arts (Education) from Mumbai University. Her motto is focusing on the learner and learning centred process of education.
Monica Merchant, Visual Arts and CAS Coordinator
Monica teaches Visual Arts in IBDP and Secondary school since June 2010. She has done her B.F.A (Bachelor of Fine Arts) from J.J.School of Art, Mumbai. She attended the Category 3 subject specific seminar in Visual Arts in Mumbai, Category 1 Workshop in Hong Kong in September 2010, SAIBSA workshops at Podar International School, ‘Master-Artist Foundation’ Programme, and several skill based workshops She has conducted a workshop on ‘Open Minds – Integrating Visual Literacy’ and is an IB examiner. She has worked at the Applied Art at the Sophia Polytechnic as a Visiting Lecturer at The Sophia Polytechnic, taught Advertising Design to students of Social Communications Media, has been a visiting lecturer at Sophia College and Ruia College. She has taught Advertising Design to students of Bachelor of Mass Media. She has boundless enthusiasm and curiosity to learn and share and be an independent thinker and executor. She focuses on teaching and working on all round development of children and tries to share all the knowledge and experience they have with them. She likes to encourage and appreciate them in how they ideate and what they create and to ensure completion of work to achieve a sense of self worth within their selves.
She has boundless enthusiasm and curiosity to learn and share and be an independent thinker and executor. She focuses on teaching and working on all round development of children and tries to share all the knowledge and experience they have with them. She likes to encourage and appreciate them in how they ideate and what they create and to ensure completion of work to achieve a sense of self-worth within their selves.
Meher Ursekar, Theory of Knowledge
Meher received her education in Mumbai at the Bombay International School and subsequently, at Seth G.S. Medical College, qualifying as a doctor of medicine (M.D.), in the field of Medical Diagnostics. She then went on to New York University to obtain a post-doctoral fellowship in Neuro diagnostics. Her passions are many, but she has a fascination for learning about how the human brain goes about doing its business of thinking. She has been researching the human mind through functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging studies.
Meher has the desire to foster in young people the intellectual skills and discipline to learn deeply and independently, and this drew her to the TOK course at BIS. A mind that questions, probes, perseveres and think liberally for itself, can master any knowledge. She hopes that in striving to be open minded and in thinking independently, young people will be the future shapers of fair-minded and more enlightened societies.
She has been engaged with the TOK course since its inception at BIS, and has learned much from her students along the way!
Rekha Chabria, Spanish Ab Initio
Born in Santa Cruz de Tenerife – Spain, in a Sindhi business family, Rekha grew up surrounded by warm and loving Spanish people. Needless to say Spanish was her first language and Spanish culture close to her heart. Although, political instability in the region called for her to relocate to India with her parents, she was still connected to the Mediterranean island through family, friends and of course the language.
After graduating from Jai Hind College in Arts she procured a Diploma in Administrative Management from NMIMS. Rekha then worked with HDFC Bank for 5 ½ years during which she was a Branch Manager and headed the Bhulabhai Desai Road and Kamla Mills Branch.
Popularly known as the Sindhi from Spain Rekha started informal Spanish training for friends at college and work here in Mumbai in 2012.
During the process, she realized that although she spoke the language fluently since she had never taught the language formally to anybody she wasn’t sure of how to teach Spanish grammar. So, Rekha decided to enroll at a Spanish Institute where she studied the framework of grammar and eventually started to teach.
While teaching the language she felt the need to take a number of courses and exams such as the DELE examination which equipped her to teach students studying the language at the IBDP level. She has now been tutoring students of various age groups for over five years.
Zia Pochkhanawala, Psychology and Counsellor
Zia holds a Master’s Degree in Counselling from the University of Notre Dame, Australia. Her experience as a counsellor with high school students began in 2003 at the United World College, Mahindra College, India. After working there for 11 years, Zia moved to the United World College, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina and has recently joined the BIS community. In addition to being a counsellor at both the UWCs, Zia has also been teaching the IBDP Psychology course since 2003. Zia has been a part of the examining team for the IBDP Psychology programme since 2007 first as an Assistant Examiner and is now a part of the senior examining team as a Team Leader / Moderator. She has had an opportunity to be a part of the Grade Award meeting at Cardiff and a part of the Standardization Team, both for IBDP Psychology. Zia also worked as an Independent Contractor for Content and Assessment for the Psychology section of the Kognity International Baccalaureate online Psychology textbook. In addition to teaching and counselling, Zia has worked with students as faculty coordinator for the Model United Nations at both the United World Colleges and has pursued her passion for theatre by encouraging students and being a part of several high school-based productions with students. Her teaching philosophy resonates with what Jens Waltermann states: “Young people come with an urge for purpose. We should use this energy to support them in dealing with the pressing challenges of our time. Our role is to educate them today with values so they become ethical leaders.”
Phalguni Dalal, English A (Literature and Performance), English Literature and Team Leader for English 7-10
Phalguni graduated with a degree in English and Related Literature (BA Hons) from the University of York, UK. She then went on to pursue a degree in teaching (PGCE) at the University of Cambridge, UK. Her teaching experience spans over different curricula and age groups. Prior to joining BIS in 2016, Phalguni has taught the A-Levels, the UK national curriculum, IGCSE and IB Diploma in the UK, Bangkok and Mumbai. She has also had the opportunity to teach English as an Additional Language while working at the Deutsche Schule of Bombay.
Phalguni’s internships in publishing, advertising and film have added a further dimension to her teaching as she enjoys using multi-media and ICT to enrich her lessons and make learning more engaging. Through teaching literature and language, she hopes to make her students more empathetic, open to different perspectives and to just enjoy the beauty and power of words.
Phalguni believes that to be an effective teacher, one has to put themselves in the shoes of a learner. She has been taking that statement quite literally over the past few years by learning how to ski (with some degree of success!)
Rea Malhotra, English A (Literature and Performance)
Rea spent the first 16 years of her life as a student at Gilbert, and is now back at her alma mater as a teacher.
She holds a B.A (Hons) in English and Theatre Studies from the University of Warwick.
She shares a great rapport with the students, and strives to make classes as engaging as possible by merging elements of drama with the study of literature.