RAJ MANHAS: COMPASSIONATE SCHOOLS; AN IMMIGRANT'S JOURNEY FROM RURAL INDIA TO TRANSFORMING U.S. PUBLIC SCHOOL Systems

My customers are students.  Not parents.  Not the board.
— Raj Manhas

Raj Manhas was born in a dusty village in a displaced family in northern India.  His grandmother taught him compassion at a very young, and that became Raj's through-line for approaching life.  He worked hard in school and on the family farm and eventually made his way to the U.S. as an engineering student at the University of Washington.

From there, Raj's story took a series of random and unexpected transitions that lead him to the highest roles in public education as the Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools overseeing 8,000 employees.

He also served as Executive Director for Seeds of Compassion, a series of events over four days when His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and other influential thinkers including well known brain and social scientists came together for an unprecedented five-day gathering in Seattle to engage the community in an in-depth conversation on compassion. 150,000 attended various events organized by Seeds of Compassion, and 44 million interacted with the Seeds of Compassion online broadcast.

Raj doubled down on compassion in his final role as Superintendent of  North Thurston Public Schools. By forming a culture around the whole child, the district made significant headway on increasing student performance and decreasing disciplinary issues by focusing on the social and emotional skills in addition to academics.  He also persuaded local voters to approve a 20-year $175 million bond measure to remodel five schools and build a new middle school.

Compassion became infectious and everyone from bus-drivers to teachers to students were swept up in the movement, which eventually expanded to the city's Chamber of Commerce.  This created an opportunity for businesses to sign on as compassionate businesses.

Now retired, Raj has time to reflect on his journey and where he might exude compassion next.

Notes:

Check out Raj's Wikipedia page for a complete list of external links and articles related to his work: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raj_Manhas

India

Sikh: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikh

Punjabi is Raj's mother tongue: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punjabi_language

Punjabis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punjabis

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midnight's_Children

https://www.amazon.com/Midnights-Children-Modern-Library-Novels/dp/0812976533

Saroya, Punjab, India

Seattle Area

Seeds of Compassion

You can be compassionate and still do good at your job, be very efficient and effective.
— Raj Manhas