Nappinnai Natarajan: Helping Teachers – and Students – Through Education

Nappinnai Natarajan

Nappinnai Natarajan

It was only natural for Nappinnai Natarajan to begin volunteering with the Fort Bend Education Foundation (FBEF). Natarajan, a mother of two, was the Vice President of Membership on the PTA board of Corner Stone Elementary in 2009 when she met Brenna Smelley, the Executive Director of FBEF, during a luncheon meeting. According to Natarajan, she “liked the entire team during the meeting” and “immediately” decided to become a volunteer.

“Both my daughters are attending Fort Bend ISD (FBISD) schools, and anything I can do to improve the quality of the schools will bring a large sense of satisfaction to me,” said Natarajan. “In addition, it helps me be very informed about the school district and ongoing issues.”

Now the Vice President of School Advocates for FBEF, which offers grants to teachers and schools in an effort to enhance the quality of education within the school district, Natarajan works to connect groups of program advocates with different schools in FBISD in order to increase the awareness among the schools regarding the FBEF programs that they can benefit from. Additionally, Natarajan serves on the organizing committee for the annual FBEF gala, which raises funds for the organization and creates a booth for India at the organization’s annual International Festival.

Every event Natarajan has participated in since joining the organization four years ago has been “memorable in its own way.” However, she said being surprised with the “Outstanding Volunteer of FBEF” award this year is a moment she will “cherish…for a long time.”

“I cherish the award and keep it in my living room,” she said, noting that it serves as a way to tell her neighbors and friends about her role as a volunteer when they visit her home. “It reminds me of the satisfaction of giving my time back to the community.”

While Natarajan noted that volunteering is “simply a lot of fun,” she said that the most rewarding part of working with FBEF is witnessing “so many kind hearted individuals in the community who generously donate to support such a good cause,” adding that the organization’s 2013 gala, which was held in February, raised nearly $255,000. “Nothing can substitute the satisfaction itself that I get from making a difference in the community I live in,” she said.

Ultimately, Natarajan’s role as a volunteer is directly linked to another role in her life which influenced her decision to join FBEF: that of a mother. “I want to be part of my kid’s educational life,” she said. “I want to be involved more than attending parent teacher’s meetings as a mother. I want a way by which I can thank the teachers who educated my kids. I want my daughters to be proud of me for taking an active part in improving the quality of their educational system.”