Meet our 2014 Education Pioneers: Sahar Momand

September 5, 2014

  • Print
Since 2005, the California Charter Schools Association has welcomed graduate students each summer from the Education Pioneers Fellowship program to provide their expertise and perspective to some of the pressing challenges that charter schools face. The mission of Education Pioneers is to identify, train, connect, and inspire a new generation of leaders dedicated to transforming the educational system so that all students receive a quality education.

Sahar Momand is an Education Pioneers fellow working on charter school alumni engagement and advocacy. Sahar is earing her Master's of Science in Public Policy and Management from the Heinz College of Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to coming to Pittsburgh, Sahar was an AmeriCorps Fellow for two years at Girls Inc. of Lynn, Massachusetts coordinating college access programs for high school juniors and seniors. Sahar graduated in 2011 with her undergraduate degree in International Relations at Mills College in Oakland.

Describe the project you worked on this summer.

I wrote a report about initiatives charter schools are taking to ensure their alumni are completing college. I also created an action plan that expands the role charter alumni would have in advocating for the charter school movement.

What are you interested in doing in the future or after graduate school if attending?

I would like to continue working in the education sector in an organizational leadership or research/policy capacity. I am very interested in the new initiatives being created to support and track students to and through college, and into their careers.

What drew you to the Education Pioneer Program?

I became an Education Pioneer Fellow because I was determined to combine my direct experience working with students with the analytical and managerial skills I am gaining in graduate school. Prior to the fellowship, I served as an AmeriCorps Fellow at Girls Inc. in Lynn, Massachusetts, where I created college access curriculum focused on individually guiding students through the college application process where their districts had a 300-to-1 guidance counselor to student ratio.

What has been the most surprising thing you've learned in the course of your work this summer?

I've learned a lot about the role advocacy and activism have in education reform and how organizing and political activity plays a major role in the education landscape.

What was your familiarity with charter schools before working at CCSA? How has your view of charter schools changed?

I was peripherally aware of charter schools and how they work, but after being at CCSA I have learned a lot more about charter schools and the larger movement. My view on charter schools has changed after this summer; I know more about the motivations behind starting charter schools and the dedicated ideals behind the charter school movement.

What changes would you like to see in our public education system?

I would like to see school systems become more flexible with how they respond to students and their educational needs. Students all learn differently and have different support systems outside of the classroom. As such, there is not a "one size fits all" system in which all students can thrive. I also think school systems need to consider the outside classroom needs of students that may affect their education, including access to food, health services, and resources to do their school work.