A Manvel High School teacher got the chance to represent her school in front of a national TV audience on May 11 when she competed on an episode of “Jeopardy!”
Ranjani Sheshadri, who teaches 10th and 11th grade English, took part in the annual Teachers Tournament on the long-running game show hosted by Alex Trebek.
When asked what her students thought of her television debut, Sheshadri replied, “They were really excited. I was nervous about it from the second I qualified for the show, but they kept asking me and telling me they would DVR it. Several actually showed up for the viewing party, which made me feel very special.”
She had to keep it a secret until the episode debuted, but Sheshadri didn’t make it to the semifinals. She competed throughout the episode and stayed alive until the Final Jeopardy question, where she wagered $8,000 of the $12,000 she had going in.
The Final Jeopardy question stumped two of the three contestants, but even though Sheshadri lost, she didn’t go home empty-handed. All contestants in the Teachers Tournament are awarded with a $2,500 grant from Farmers Insurance for participating.
“With my grant money, I want to make my classroom more functional and flexible and comfortable for students to form groups and collaborate on work. Also, I want to spend a good portion of the money on books that I think my kids would want to read, including classic fiction, graphic novels, young adult books and well-written non-fiction books,” Sheshadri said.
Sheshadri expressed her gratitude for getting such a unique opportunity that many people wish they could have.
“My campus threw a watch party for me in the cafeteria, and I am just so thankful for the support that the district and the campus have shown me,” Sheshadri said. “
In the end, Sheshadri said that she wants her students to see that it’s good to take risks, even if they don’t pan out the way you wanted them to.
“Whether or not I won more money, I now have close ties with 14 other brilliant educators around the country who are a constant source of support and humor and well-wishes. I also have a pretty unique story to tell now and a little trivia street cred to boot," Sheshadri stated. "That's why I've been encouraging my students to take the Teen Test whenever it comes out, because you never know how you might do or what opportunities might come your way.”