Background: Nisha Smales (formerly Nisha Wadhwani) is a associate partner with Bellwether Education Partners in the Strategic Advising practice area. Prior to joining Bellwether, Nisha worked for two years as a generalist consultant and junior engagement manager at McKinsey & Company in London. There she advised global companies on topics such as growth strategy, organizational change, innovation, talent management, and manufacturing efficiency, as well as a European government on adult social care policy. She also supported the design of a K-8 Syrian refugee school model in Lebanon and led national strategy and roll-out for a teacher coaching program in a West African country post-Ebola.
Before her career as a strategy consultant, Nisha worked in schools for five years, first as a Teach For America corps member in the Los Angeles Unified School District (teaching seventh grade science), and then as a fifth and sixth grade science teacher, dean of instruction, and assistant school leader at the first KIPP school in St. Louis, Missouri. While at KIPP St. Louis, Nisha wrote the summer school curriculum and staff handbooks, launched the first character education program, conducted weekly instructional coaching cycles with teachers, led 20+ staff trainings, and started the Science Olympiad team. Nisha holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis.
Why I do this work: I fell in love with teaching as a first-year teacher in South Central Los Angeles. I loved the challenge of getting students excited about learning and the sweat, blood, and tears it takes to continuously improve as an instructor. What was initially a two-year stint with Teach For America quickly became a personal passion for finding a way to ensure students everywhere feel empowered, engaged, safe, and cared for while at school.