Nilesh Patel (he/him/his) had the importance of education instilled in him at a young age. His grandparents and parents immigrated to the U.S. with little more than what they had in their pockets. They knew that education was the accelerant to disrupt intergenerational poverty and wanted to give their children an abundance of opportunity. They chose to make personal sacrifices to send him to a private school. Nilesh became an educator to ensure all students were afforded this same opportunity for a high-quality education without having to make those same sacrifices.
Nilesh has spent the past few years working with the families of Kairos Academies in St. Louis. As part of the Growth Track of the BES Fellowship, he seeks to open a new Kairos high school campus to serve those same students, as well as hundreds more, starting in ninth grade. “When Kairos Middle opened, we promised families that we would develop their children into self-directed learners and leaders. To protect that promise—and ensure our students enroll and thrive in a liberal arts college or 21st-century profession—we need to open a high-quality high school program.” The Kairos mission is to empower students to have agency over their own lives and learning. As the leader of the proposed high school, Nilesh must build on the foundation set in middle school and create a community where students can truly live out this vision as they get older. “By the time they leave our school, students will be in full ownership of how, where, and when they learn. The environment will mimic a professional workplace, where students navigate the coworking space autonomously, and leverage resources, including teachers, to reach their academic and personal goals. This way, they will be ready to lead their own lives and communities in the future.”
Nilesh is currently an entrepreneur-in-residence at The Opportunity Trust, where he began the work of designing a new high school. He most recently served as director of teaching and interim school leader at Kairos Academies, where he led the instructional development of the teaching staff. Prior to this, he was the founding science department chair at the same school. Nilesh also spent four years working at the Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago and was a Teach For America Chicago corps member. Nilesh received his bachelor’s degree in global health and environment from Washington University in St. Louis and holds a master’s in teaching from Relay Graduate School of Education.