Rajeshri Gandhi Bhatia has over 25 years of experience teaching students at all grade levels, leading and starting schools, coaching and developing staff and reforming educational organizations. A graduate of Detroit Country Day School, where she also taught and coached, she went on to earn a Bachelors of Science degree in Education from The University of Michigan and Master’s Degree in School Leadership with Principal Certification from Harvard University. Rajeshri has spent her entire career helping students and schools succeed in challenging environment. Her experience starting a charter school in Chicago served as the springboard for her evolving career in school leadership and change management.
Her teaching career began at Detroit Country Day School, where she taught math to students grades 3-5 and coached high school sports. After graduating from Harvard with her Masters Degree, she had the unique opportunity to start a school in Chicago for immigrant and refugee students and serve as the founding principal for the school. 20+ years later, the school still exists and continues to successfully serve some of Chicago’s most vulnerable students.
After spending her entire life in the cold, the sunshine called and she went on to Southern California. There she served as an Assistant Head of School at a K-8 private school in Long Beach, CA. In this role, she led the school’s admission and data assessment efforts while also teaching middle school students, leading the student council and helping the school transition to new leadership. After a few years, she went on to Anaheim, CA and worked in a network of private schools that educated students Pre K-12th grade. She served as a leader in the private high school, serving as the Dean of Faculty and the Dean of Education. In those roles, she supported teachers, oversaw the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs, led the college counseling efforts, created the Advanced Math Program and initiated the Advanced Science and Engineering Program. She also supported international student admissions and traveled around the world to recruit students to the school. In addition, she was the academic lead for the school’s virtual learning program and successfully created a virtual summer school curriculum (before Covid!) that allowed students to advance their progress through high school.
In 2012, she came back to Michigan and started School Smarts, LLC, an educational consulting company. She has worked with several schools and organizations in many capacities. She served as the chief architect of the professional development program and leadership development program for the Michigan Association of Public School Academies’ (MAPSA’s) 25 million dollar Federal Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF3) grant, catering professional development opportunities for more than 800 teachers. She established and maintains partnerships with several high profile organizations such as The Harvard Graduate School of Education, UM Ross School of Business, and Zing Train!, a subsidiary of Zingerman’s Bakery, engaging them in the work of developing school leaders. She pioneered a new type of leadership development program that brought together principles of instructional, personal and organizational leadership, changing the paradigm of what school leadership looks like.
A well-known educational leader in Michigan, Rajeshri maintains a large network of contacts in and outside of education across the country and serves as a connector. Through her company, School Smarts, LLC, she has helped organizations with high level recruiting and networking projects, helped groups begin the process of starting schools, provided consulting services and worked to improve processes and outcomes in a variety of organizations. She recently left her position as the Deputy Director for School Performance for Grand Valley State University’s Charter Schools Office, where she oversaw school performance of the statewide portfolio of 80+ schools that GVSU charters and led the team of school support personnel who provide direct support to schools. Rajeshri helped develop Professional Innovators in Teaching, an alternative teacher certification path and serves as an instructor and coach to aspiring teachers in the program. She provides insight and guidance to parents and the community at large as a regular writer for The Indian Scene and for the City of Detroit as the lead blog author for the Community Education Commission. As schools across the world struggled to manage operations during the Covid-19 pandemic, Rajeshri was an active participant in efforts to support schools in Michigan. She was also asked to serve on Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 Task Force on Education Return to School Advisory Council Subcommittee on Operations and Facilities and was a contributing member of the MI Safe Schools: Michigan’s 2020-21 Return to School Roadmap. During this time, she also founded KidSmarts to help parents, schools, non-profits and companies support students as they transition to a virtual school environment. She also served as an expert contributor in documentary about teachers that aired on PBS.
At this juncture in her career, she is fulfilling her dream of starting a school that can offer more to its students, families, teachers and community. As the mom of two spunky girls, Rajeshri wants a school that meets her expectations as a parent and is creating it for the community. Her experiences in hundreds of schools, with thousands of students, parents and teachers give her a solid foundation and she is using all of the best things she has seen and learned to create the perfect school. She has been working to start BBA for several years, supported by her husband and family. BBA is part of a larger dream to create a system of schools that expand across the region and go through 12th grade. Finally the stars have aligned and she is proud to open the doors to the first campus of Blooming Brains Academy in the Fall of 2022.