By Isabelle Ravanas, Editor-in-Chief
With the start of the 2021-22 school year came the start of a new administration and with it Dr. Ansari as Assistant Principal.
Dr. Ansari is a Chicago girl at heart. From growing up in Rogers Park and the surrounding Chicagoland area to completing her bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in the city, the new assistant principal structured her whole career around what it means to be a high schooler in the Windy City, particularly a student of color.
The new assistant principal loves delving into the intersection of curriculum, instruction, and administration; she is fueled by the question “How do we galvanize the adults in a building to make sure that we’re meeting the needs of every child that walks through the door?” She stands by the idea that agency, empowerment, and participation are the three things with which any student can succeed. When asked why she chose a path in administration she said that she wanted to work with teachers to best design an effective learning environment for students; as an administrator, she is still “in pretty good touch with kids”, but also able to have an overarching impact. That duality is one of the reasons she came to Payton.
Before the administration change, Dr. Ansari was an instructional support leader for Network 3. Her network meant that she served schools and students in Belmont-Cragin as well as surrounding communities. However, working with multiple schools meant that she spread her time, attention, and resources thin. Still fueled by her desire to create an equitable school environment and inclusive culture, Dr. Ansari just wanted to give her “best self to one place all the time”; so, when faced with the opportunity, she accepted the job offer at Payton.
Dr. Ansari didn’t always know she wanted to go into education. At first, she majored in English literature. (In fact, this love continued throughout her personal life; when asked what she does in her free time, Dr. Ansari answered “I’m so boring; I read books”.) However, her interest in adolescence, among other things, led her down an academic path. “I love the evolution, that part of development for teenagers because you aren’t kids, […] and you don’t need the adults around you in the way that you did when you were a little kid; you’re sort of exploring what it means to be you and that’s such an exciting thing to […] be a part of.” Dr. Ansari said. For that reason, (and again pulling on her background in English literature) Dr. Ansari believes that the book A Wrinkle In Time is for everyone- it explores the topic of young people “coming into their own”.
Though she did not always know if she wanted to go into education, Dr. Ansari grew up in a family where its importance was recognized. “You know, [my great-grandfather] was actually the first person in his village to send his granddaughters to school, and it really transformed the lives of four generations”, she explained. Female empowerment and equal access to education were values that had been passed down for generations. However, values aren’t the only thing from her family that stuck to her. Even now, Dr. Ansari’s favorite food is her mother’s Indian dal and rice; she still likes to listen to Urdu classics such as Kishore Kumar and to watch Hindi Bollywood movies, and she tries her best to spend as much time with her nephews as possible.
And, a final recommendation “google ‘Radiolab trees’” and listen to it.
Images courtesy of Dr. Ansari.