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Do you know about the Virginia Early Intervention Reading Initiative (EIRI)?  The Virginia EIRI’s goal is to serve students in grades K-3 by helping reduce reading difficulties through early diagnosis and immediate intervention.  The initiative assists distri...

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January Instructor Spotlight

As a lifelong learner, fifty-five-year-old, Peyman Rajai, completed his Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2007.  During his course of study, he started to find a passion for teaching by helping others in class.

  “Early on during my college education, I took a two-semester course in ‘Mathematical Modeling of Physiological Systems.’  It was a very challenging but innovative approach to study physiology from a mathematical perspective,” Peyman says.  “One day before the class, I was helping some classmates with a homework problem and our professor walked in.  Before I could sit down at my desk, he told me to continue working through the problem and explain what I was doing.  After I was done, he said, ‘You’re a natural.’  Soon after, he offered me a position as his assistant, teaching classes and working as a research assistant.  I continued to teach part time both at the college level, as well as private tutoring.  He has been the most inspiring teacher/mentor that I’ve ever had.  His passion for teaching, research and discovery was how I got inspired.  The joy of teaching for me is as addictive as joy of learning and I find teaching as one of the most inspiring and rewarding professions with the greatest impact on so many lives. Besides the obvious gratifications of educating my students, teaching offers me an opportunity for growth and personal fulfilment.”

After conducting some research, Peyman contacted PCG and the EdForce team in November 2016.  With his extensive teaching background, the following month he passed the Praxis II “Content Knowledge” exam for high school math.  After conducting some research, Peyman had concluded that PCG provided the most practical and comprehensive option for him.  PCG interested him because he was looking for an alternative path to obtaining a teaching certification in the public school system.

Peyman says his favorite part of the EdForce experience so far has been collaborating with Lyric Olivarez Belcik, Lead Instructional Coach, on a variety of many topics.  “She is always accessible, supportive and genuine in helping me become a better teacher.  Her experience and wisdom provided me with some of the best practices in teaching.  I have learned that teaching is about caring, building relationships with your students, and earning their trust.”

Before working with EdForce, Peyman relied on his own knowledge and intuition in delivering a lesson effectively.  With EdForce, though, it is different.  Before interviewing with schools, members of the EdForce team helped to coach and prep Peyman.  The training included many important aspects of teaching, such as lesson planning, classroom management and differentiated instructions, as well as helping with interviewing skills.  Peyman says that because of this rigorous preparation, training and support by EdForce, he has been able to evolve in his craft and structure his lesson plans more effectively.  He also learned various ways to prompt students’ interest and class management.

Peyman was aware that EdForce establishes partnerships with many school districts throughout the United States and had interviews with districts in New Jersey to as far as California.  He taught at a school in Virginia for two months, and although he learned a ton from the experience, it was unfortunately not the right fit.

“EdForce support was instrumental in my success both in becoming a better teacher and finding the right job.  Andrew Feller, Program Manager of EdForce, reassured me that PCG would continue their search on finding a suitable placement for me.  In a matter of weeks, I had more interviews and was finally able to find the school that I felt was best for me.  I can say with all certainty that EdForce and its support team have earned my trust and respect for consistently functioning in my best interest. The team really invests in the people they recruit.  I couldn’t be happier with my choice and the support I received from EdForce in getting to where I am now.”

Now, Peyman is teaching grades 9-12 at Whites Creek High School, part of Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) in Tennessee.  He finds joy and delight in teaching high school students because they are eager to learn, discover and experience life as they become of age.  He adds that high school students are more fun, enthusiastic and open minded than even most adults.  “I communicate with my students and solicit ideas on how they think they can learn better.  Working with them keeps me young,” Peyman laughs.

He says his main goals are to show his students that learning can be fun, everyone possesses unique and special talents, and through hard work and dedication they can reach their maximum potential by finding their own greatness.  “I differentiate teaching by the content, the process, and the product.  Based on that, I prepare my lessons and the teaching environment for students with different skills and level.”

When asked how he is doing in his first month at MNPS, he was not hesitant to let his positivity be known.  “It’s great. I love it. Our academy principal, Mr. Davis, is a great leader and very supportive.  He walked into one of my classes last week and tweeted about how impressed he was because all the students were paying attention and participating in the lesson. I couldn’t be happier.”  He also made sure to thank Andrew, Lyric, and the entire EdForce team. 

Peyman recognizes that all students have unique interests and learn differently, so he tries to engage students in activities such as sports or out of school programs.  He recently had a discussion with the school’s academy principal about the possibility of Peyman leading a robotics program utilizing some of his research experience.    

“I know he would do incredibly well in that role,” Lyric says.

PCG Education would like to thank Peyman for his inspirational dedication to students. We are looking forward to hearing stories of success and more accounts of how he has positively changed students’ lives.

Article written by Summer Tarpley.