July 3, 2014 by

Eight Questions for Emerging Leader Yukesha Makhan

We’re always looking for new ways to insert ASCD voices into our conversations on Inservice. With this in mind, we’ve developed a question and answer session for our ASCD emerging leaders. The Emerging Leaders program recognizes and prepares young, promising educators to influence education programs, policy, and practice on both the local and national levels. Learn more about emerging leaders on the ASCD website.

Tell us about your role as an educator. What does your typical day look like?8 questions carpe diem

Every day is different, filled with a diverse range of exciting and unique challenges to overcome.  When working in an environment which is in constant flux, there is a variety of faculty and student issues to support, monitor, and deal with. Every day is typified by high-energy, student-led activities which provide me with the reassurance that we are all doing an excellent job in the classroom.

What’s your education philosophy summed up in one sentence?

[Preparing] our future leaders through a 21st century international education — “carpe diem.”

Why did you become an educator?

Growing up in South Africa, I realized that education was the only way to empower people. The struggle for democracy and equality should be a struggle of minds and not fists.

As an ASCD emerging leader, how do you hope to have a greater effect on education in your community and beyond?

I believe, teach, and live the philosophy of inquiry-based and concept-based teaching and learning. I have witnessed first-hand the impact this has had on students, and I hope to empower my staff and the wider community with this philosophy.

What types of professional development (books, DVDs, webinars, courses) have made a difference in your career?

International Baccalaureate and ASCD courses on inquiry have certainly impacted my career and given me the opportunity to broaden my area of expertise in leadership and management within schools. I experienced an epiphany moment when I read Understanding by Design by Wiggins and McTighe. This certainly redefined my ideas on teaching and learning.

Was there a pivotal moment when you realized your career choice in education was the correct one? Describe that time.

There have been many moments; however, the feedback and gratitude I receive from staff, parents, and students make me realize that this was the correct choice. Knowing that I´ve changed students’ paths in education or in their lives makes me realize that this is the best job in the world.

If you could make one major change in education, what would it be?

To provide the best “free education” to every child in every country around the world, regardless of race, color or creed. I strongly believe that education should not have borders nor financial constraints. Education should be the prime focus of developed and developing countries — this is, after all, an investment in their country’s future. Developed countries should be assisting developing countries advance and cultivate their educational practices and principles.

What’s the craziest thing a student has ever said to you?

“Can we have a hug?” Having been educated in a very traditional, nontactile environment, I don´t hug students and this clearly is a very different ideology to [from that held by people] living in a country where hugs are freely provided and it is ok to hug a teacher.

More from ASCD Emerging Leaders.