Rahul Bafna – Chief Executive Officer Sarika Bafna – Senior Executive Officer Members can send articles to admin@iexcellkids.com

BOARD OF EDUCATORS Sarika Bafna Boh Bae Song Deena Davis Stephanie Helfrich Lauren Randich Darren Erickson Pete Karagianis Joseph Alford Mihir Bafna Pavithra Kannan Oviya Sugum Rahul Bafna


Sarika, born in India, moved to United States in 1998 after getting married to Rahul Bafna. Sarika completed her major in Textile Designing and minor in Nutrition & Dietics in India. After moving to United States, Sarika and Rahul got involved in various educational efforts like Back to School, Book Drives and more. Fascinated by the educational system, Sarika decided to pursue an educational degree at ISU, Bloomington IL. Sarika graduated from ISU and is currently teaching at Unit 5. Sarika’s passion about education led her to various researches/researchers in the early 2000. Most of the researches pointed out that number crunching is not considered a good educational practice. Number crunching can be a good training tactic, but is not educational. It’s more important to understand the concepts behind Mathematics. Understanding why 2+2 is 4, is more important than memorizing it by repetition. Sarika and Rahul started a kids club in January of 2007 at home for their kids and friends. The kids met once in 2 weeks to enhance Math and Reading Skills. They experimented newer technics which were a fusion of traditional number crunching blended with conceptual thinking to satisfy school requirements as well as prepare kids for the future. This combination ensured that the kids learnt the concepts behind mathematics with the required speed & accuracy. This unique teaching strategy grew momentum and more people started enquiring about the club. iEXCELL was then incorporated in 2011 as a paid educational club for kids. iEXCELL charges a modest membership to maintain the facility, Staff, and invest in research and programs. Sarika takes the lead in creating curriculum for each grade and groups at iEXCELL. She works with iEXCELL teachers to ensure that the kids at iEXCELL receive the best possible education. This not only includes academics but science projects like Robotics, and Destination Imagination. iEXCELL students have excelled in various science competitions and we hope to continue the same in 2014 and beyond.

iEXCELL grew rapidly since its inception in 2010. With over 5000 sq.ft of space, Sarika and Rahul started various programs like Robotics, Public speaking club for kids, Chess programs, tournaments and much more. iEXCELL started conducting competitions like Math Bee, Math Olympiad, Math Kangaroo, Spelling/Vocabulary Bee, Science Bee, Public speaking and many more contests. iEXCELL maintains the same high quality educational practices upon which the foundation was laid. All decisions at iEXCELL are made in the best interest of its members without any external influences. iEXCELL invests heavily in research on educational practices followed across the country and other parts of the world, incorporates the best teaching practices for our kids. iEXCELL is not affiliated to any organization nor has any other branches and hence is not bound with “One Size Fits All” concept. The teachers at iEXCELL keep a weekly status on how things progress with each team and update curriculum as needed. Kids gets the top priority at iEXCELL. iEXCELL Participates in Destination Imagination, Robotics, Midwest Talent search, SIT Conferences, Explora Vision and many more compeitions. iEXCELL hosts Math Kangaroo, Math Olympiad, North South Foundations Math Bee, Spelling Bee, Vocabulary Bee, Science Bee, Public Speaking etc. iEXCELL prepares Kids for academic tests including ACT. iEXCELL is the only organization to offer a public speaking club for kids in our community.

iEXCELL hires specialized educators to meet our members requirements. With over 10 teachers, iEXCELL is equipped with the best possible educational environment for the kids of our community. A brief bio of our teachers is presented in this month’s iChat. In addition to their specialization, all teachers participate in mentoring kids for various competitions like Bee’s, Robotics, Destination Imagination, Explora and more

Stephanie Helfrich Stephanie is currently pursuing her educational degree at ISU. Stephanie’s primary responsibility includes teaching our iLEARN and iLEAD members. She ensures all material is converted into power-point presentations and is ready for our upcoming sessions. Stephanie is also our EXPLORA lead. Boh-Bae Song Boh is a certified teacher from ISU, completing her graduation last year. Her expertise in working with kids have made her a great teacher at iEXCELL.

Deena Davis Deena is currently pursuing her educational degree at ISU. Deena’s primarily responsibility is to run iEXPRESS, public speaking club for kids Deena has made a great contribution to iEXPRESS. iEXPRESS is the only public speaking club for kids in our community and is a great learning experience. Kids get an opportunity to give various time bound speeches and learn writing techniques. The writing techniques learnt at iEXPRESS is then applied in the speeches. Lauren Randich Lauren, newest addition to iEXCELL teachers is a sophomore at Illinois State University. Lauren graduated from Joliet Catholic Academy where she was an athlete and a member of National Honor society. Majoring in Elementary Education, she is a member of National Honor Society of Collegiate Scholars at Illinois State and plans on graduating in 2016. Lauren has an endorsement to teach math for grades K-9. She also tutors college level Math courses at ISU. Oviya Sugum Oviya is our literature mentor and also helps with Robotics sessions. Oviya has been iEXCELL member since January 9th 2007, the first meeting of the club. Oviya, Pavithra, and Mihir are part of the champions Robotics Team of 2012. Oviya is also a great mentor for our younger kids if they need help in reading and is patient with young reader. Pete Karagianis There is hardly anyone in Bloomington who plays chess and does not know Pete. Pete is a national master, rated over 2200 in USCF chess rating about 500 points less than the current world chess champion Viswanathan Anand. Pete’s expertise is not just good chess, but his ability to connect to the kids and his teaching tactics. Pete has become the most popular chess coach in Bloomington-Normal. Pete teaches over 600 kids every week, including all his school chess clubs, iEXCELL and private lessons. Rahul Bafna Rahul, is primarily involved in helping projects like Robotics, Destination Imagination etc. and managing the competition.


Boh-Bae is primarily focused on teaching academics to iLEARN and iLEAD members. Boh-Bae and Stephanie share the iLEARN and iLEAD classes during the week and help with projects on Sundays. Pavithra Kannan Pavithra is our Robotics expert. She spends hours every week to work on Robotics and learn newer concepts/techniques about Robotics. Sarika and Pavithra did a one week advanced Robotics Coaches training organized by Carnagie Mellon where coaches from different parts of the world participated online. Mihir Bafna Mihir, is our Robotics mentor and a chess coach. Mihir helps Pavithra with Robotics training/research and also works with Pete and Joe on Chess lessons. Mihir is currently rated over 1400 in USCF Chess rating. Mihir teaches chess to beginners, and assists Joe and Pete as an assistant coach for other groups. Joseph Alford Joe, rated over 1900 is one of the most experienced chess coach in our community. Joe’s specialty is his ability to go over the games and teach kids based on the games they played. Joe comes on Wednesdays during our open chess practice session for our iCHESS members and works with kids based on the games they played at home, at iEXCELL or in a tournament. Darren Erickson Darren is our Chess Tournament director. He directs all our chess tournaments and represents iEXCELL during BNASC meetings.

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