Meet Mr. Srivastava- Payton’s new science teacher

By Megha Khemka, Junior Editor-in-Chief

As Payton welcomes the class of 2026 into the building for the first time, it also welcomes a new cohort of teachers. This year, there are 22 new staff members joining the WPCP community! I met with Mr. Srivastava, a new science teacher at Payton to hear his story. 

Mr. Srivastava, an Honors Physics teacher, was influenced by his architecture teacher at Stuyvesant to become a high school teacher.

Paw Print: What drew you to Payton, and what are your first impressions of the school?
Mr. Srivastava: Well, I’d give you better first impressions if this was my first time teaching here. I left three years ago. My first time here was, I think, in 2014, in this exact same room [204]. But first impressions are always how cooperative students are. I mean, I always remind kids that it really is neither the teachers nor the admin that make the school – it’s you guys. So it’s exciting to see all these bright minds, future leaders, doctors, lawyers, or what have you, that are all in my classroom. It’s pretty awesome. It’s one of the reasons why I came back to Payton. 

Paw Print: What do you think are some of the most important challenges that Payton’s students face, and how do you hope to prepare them for that?
Mr. Srivastava: I give my soapbox at the beginning of the year, where, I could care less if a kid goes into science. I could care less if they pursue a science degree, let alone pursue a science profession. But the takeaway is just being able to think for yourself, be critical, be respectful, be compassionate to each other. Just having these soft skills. At the end of the day, 20 years from now, kids are not going be thinking about what they learned in electricity, but they are going to be thinking about the the communication, relationships, or things that they built in that classroom that might be life-lasting. Who knows. At least that’s how it was for me. 

Paw Print: If there’s one thing you want your students take away from you, what would it be?
Mr. Srivastava: That it’ll all work out, I guess. It’ll work out; things happen for a reason.

Paw Print: What did you do before becoming a teacher? And what would you do if you could not be in the teaching profession at all?
Mr. Srivastava: I was in medicine before. I went to medical school, and took a leave of absence at the beginning of my third year, doing rotations. I needed a breather. So prior to getting into my graduate program, I needed to self-reflect. Teaching was something I was always going to do, and this graduate school gave me the best package, and it was a reputable school. So I pursued that. I’ve been teaching since 2010. And, you know, here I am. But if I wasn’t doing teaching, I’d probably go into tech, because every family member is like, dude, you need to go into tech. Either that, or be a chef. I’m the family cook.

Paw Print: Finally, what are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself?
Mr. Srivastava: Hopefully here, at Payton. I have a lot of other pressures, from the perspective of providing for the family. I know that teaching isn’t the best thing I could do with my time in the sense that it’s not the most financially rewarding. But then I know at the end of the day, if I’m doing well, I’m putting my heart and all my effort into it, I know I won’t be under duress of losing the job. I know everything will work out, because money at the end of the day isn’t the biggest thing. But at the same time, the current times we live in, it kind of is. So I’m glad my wife also does well for herself. It helps. But it’s also a very non-traditional Indian route to go. That’s another conversation I could have about leaving med school. But, yeah, stick to teaching. That’s hopefully what I see myself doing. We’ll see what summer grinds bring about, what other ideas I’ve cooked up.

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