Meet Soundhari Balaguru: Our Head of Social Emotional Learning and Mental Health @ Caliber: ChangeMakers Academy.
Soundhari is in charge of all mental health and social emotional work at ChangeMakers Academy. She is a visionary in her dedication to using her mental health expertise to influence the culture and practices at our school. Soundhari has a Ph.D in clinical and school psychology from the University of Virginia as well as a Masters in Education. She is research based and data driven --- AND an incredibly caring and thoughtful leader. Caliber is very lucky to have Soundhari on our team!
Words about Soundhari from her coworkers:
"Soundhari is an incredible asset to the CMA family! She has assisted in creating a school from ground 0, where we support the Social Emotional Development and Mental Health of all of our students. Using her clinician background she has been able to contribute to supporting some of our most challenging students using a therapeutic mode. Soundhari has been the leading woman in terms helping Caliber "Reimagine Education." Thank you Soundhari for all that you do for staff, students, and families to create such a warm and welcoming environment for ALL!"
"Soundhari is always available and genuine. She remains consistent and present for not only the students but for staff as well. I really appreciate our discussions, laughs and feedback sessions. Soundhari checks in on me personally and professionally. She is a wonderful person and I am grateful to be working alongside such a grand professional. "
"It's impossible to leave any conversation or interaction with Soundhari without a sense of joy. Her commitment to ChangeMakers extends far beyond just the students but to each and every teammate on campus, parent, and community member. Whether working with a student who's experiencing a challenging day to immediately pivoting and organizing an outstanding festival or fundraising drive with the Family Connections Committee, she helps bring the best out of all of us. And somehow, someway, she just knows the right snack to share to provide that afternoon pick-me-up."
A recent interview with Soundhari!
What is your favorite thing about working at Caliber?
This sounds cheesy, but everything! The students, my colleagues, our families...what's not to love! Every day a student will make me smile and laugh and to be surrounded by their joy and spirit is uplifting. I also feel so grateful to be part of a team that values helping our students develop in multiple ways...in their academics, building their inner resilience, navigating conflict...working with educators who truly believe that students can learn and grow is a gift.
What was your favorite subject when you were in school and why?
So much of enjoying a class depended on the teacher for me, when they were positive and excited about the subject and about me as a student...those were the times I really got into a class.
What is your favorite memory associated with music (maybe a memorable concert, or playing an instrument yourself!)?
I played the violin for years and enjoyed the friends I made through my school orchestras. Spoiler, I was a nerd.
If you could go on a dream vacation, what would you do + where would you go?
So many options, what to choose?! I've always wanted to go to Greece and sightsee and lie on the beach.
What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area (or specifically Vallejo)?
Vallejo is rich in so many cultures. My family is multicultural and I think the mixing and melding of cultures in Vallejo is beautiful. Also, the food :) .
What is one fun fact that most people don't know about you?
In 2004, when I lived in Boston, a local furniture store had a deal that if the Red Sox won the World Series that people would get refunds on the furniture they bought. We watched the Red Sox sweep the Cardinals and celebrated a World Series win and a free couch!