By Radha Damodara dasa
2008 saw the opening of the UK’s first state-funded Hindu school when the landmark Krishna Avanti Primary School in Harrow opened its doors. 12 years later, the Trust educates more than 4000 students across 10 schools up and down the country, with many more in the pipeline.
From its inception, Avanti’s ethos has been inspired by the Vaisnava teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, creating a 21st century ecosystem that sustains the highest quality of education possible, integrated with unique, holistic and spiritual practices to support the innermost needs of every child.
An integral part of the Trust is its outstanding educators that assist in the development the Avanti Way. Two such individuals are Dulal Krishna Dasa and Lalita Sakhi Devi Dasi, who have been life-long members of their local temple communities and now serve as co-principals at their respective schools.
At the budding age of 17, Dulal Krishna Dasa came in touch with ISKCON Pandava Sena, a dynamic youth organisation founded by members of Bhaktivedanta Manor in 1994, which ignited his affinity for spiritual seeking.
He says, “The early years of my Krishna Consciousness were spent serving in Pandava Sena and Aston University’s Krishna Consciousness Society. After graduating from Aston University, I wanted to use my skills in management to support public services and so worked up the ranks to become a commissioning manager of substance misuse services — giving back to the local community.”
By the encouragement of his father, Dulal felt that his skills and experience could be better employed in order to serve a wider number of people. His desire to coalesce his profession with his devotion to Lord Krishna was growing strong and upon hearing the news that Avanti’s first school was opening, he decided this was his calling — to become a teacher!
“Both my spiritual master and father blessed me to take a leap of faith and change the course of my profession. Through shear determination, resilience and causeless mercy, I now find myself in a position to be able to use my skills to serve an entire community of children, parents, staff and wider stakeholders alongside my spiritual godsister, Lalita Sakhi.”
Lalita Sakhi devi dasi was born and raised in Radhadesh, a close-knit devotee community in the beautiful countryside of Belgium. Her formative years were spent at the temple’s Gurukula where she grew up around inspiring role models that taught her the importance of a strong value system, good character and service to others.
She says. “The Radhadesh gurukula did not only form the fondest memories of my life, but also gave me strong foundations rooted in love and respect which prepared me for the future. The meaningful experiences I had as a child inspired me to serve the youth with a desire to ensure that they too received the love and care that I did.”
Journeying to the remote village of Mayapura in West Bengal to complete the year-long Bhakti Sastri course gave Lalita a sense of inner clarity and guidance about her direction in life. This was further perpetuated by her completion of a Bachelors degree in Theology and Religious Studies at the Bhaktivedanta College, followed by a Masters degree at Warwick University. “I decided to pursue a career in teaching. Whilst in Radhadesh, I met devotees from the UK who told me about the Avanti Schools project and encouraged me to apply for a teaching assistant position. Within the first few weeks of my new job, it became clear to me that Avanti could give me the opportunity to develop my career in a professional environment whilst fulfilling my life purpose by sharing Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s key principles with children, staff and the wider community.”
Since commencing her journey as a teaching assistant, Lalita has worked incredibly hard to gain the knowledge, expertise and key skills needed to now serve as a co-principal at the Krishna Avanti Primary School, Croydon.
A slew of inspiring stories such as these exist across the Avanti Schools Trust. The opportunity to build a rewarding career in the education sector interfaced with a resolute commitment to self-discovery is for many, a dream come true.
As the Trust continues to grow, so do the opportunities for new individuals to join the Avanti family! Those wishing to know more are warmly invited to contact the Avanti Schools Trust.
Full details of the various opportunities on offer can be found here: www.avanti.org.uk/careers