By Nancy Gutierrez
For many new teachers fresh out of college, balancing teaching and building a life for themselves can be tough. But for one new teacher at Wilson Middle School, teaching became something to do after most of her children had graduated from college.
Chhaya Dwivedi is a first-year teacher like none other. She started her teaching career at 50 after deciding that her love of science could be a positive influence on today's youth.
"A combination of things made me decide to start teaching," she said. "I learned a lot of science as a child. I was very interested in science. I also took it as a major in college."
Dwivedi earned a bachelor's degree in microbiology from Bombay University in India. She was born and raised in India except for a three-year stay in California as a child, which is when she said she learned English.
"After I graduated college I came to the U.S.," she said.
Dwivedi worked in a pathology lab and was even a phlebotomist for a while. She said after she married and settled in Porterville, she helped in her children's classrooms throughout elementary and junior high school. She said it was there that she realized how much she enjoyed helping students with science.
"There is a lack of people influencing children to go into science. So I thought it'd be good to get a teaching credential and do that," she said.
Three years ago Dwivedi enrolled in Chapman University.
"My husband was really excited for me," she said.
Due to a lack of units Dwivedi had to take undergraduate classes to finish degree requirements in the U.S. as well as take credential classes.
"That's why it took three years," she said. "It shouldn't take that long to get a teaching credential."
Last year Dwivedi was a student teacher at Wilson Middle School and worked closely with Tim Perotta, who earlier this year was promoted to Vice Principal at Wilson. Dwivedi said she enjoyed her time student teaching and was happy to get the call from Wilson.
"When you enjoy working with a person it is great to be called back," she said. "I am glad to be around such a wonderful group of professionals."
She said her first few weeks have gone smooth.
"I planned ahead for the first few weeks of school," she said. "I had all my papers copied and ready for the first 10 days of school."
As a science teacher Dwivedi must provide science lectures and labs every week. Luckily her teacher mentor, Charles Abney, gave Dwivedi a basic skeleton for creating lesson plans.
"I'd be struggling if it wasn't for Mr. Abney," she said. "Now I do things two days ahead."
Dwivedi's students have been studying the effects of stimuli on living things. On Aug. 1 students were recording the effects of light and sound on Roly Poly bugs. Dwivedi moved from work station to work station helping her students recognize the different reactions.
"This is a good age to teach," she said. "Sometimes younger teachers take things too serious. I'm used to my own kids and other kids from helping in schools. I've learned to tolerate more. You have to give them room but set a limit. When you're dealing with classroom management it helps to have been around growing children."
This is the first article in a series on Chhaya Dwivedi. The Exeter Sun will be following Dwivedi throughout the school-year as her first teaching experience progresses.