A Pillar of New Vrindavana

An Interview with Ruci dasi

“The students in our home school co-op really enjoy performing in front of people!  For that reason, they were looking forward to the end of the year party. I think that’s why their performances at the party went so well,” exclaims Ruci, the main academic teacher at the New Vrindaban home school co-op, called “Gopal’s Garden”.

Ruci is the pillar of the New Vrindavana school. She has been teaching there for over 30 years.

Ruci says that the students at the school like performing and that they are comfortable with getting up in front of people.  This is one reason why she likes to have them do presentations.  Ruci confirms: “We do a presentation at Christmas also.  I think it’s good for them to be accustomed to being in front of people. And to see that it’s not as scary as it seems. Most of us didn’t have that kind of training when we were growing up….I’m mostly terrified of talking in front of people!”

Ruci goes on: “At Christmas, the students did some writing and then I wanted them to do a retelling of it.  Sankirtan, my husband, who is a professional storyteller and a trained actor, came to the school and trained them how to speak properly, especially how to project their voices and how to make their presentation more exciting and not so monotone.”

When asked if she feels that they accomplished the same thing for the presentation last week, Ruci enthusiastically replies: “Definitely!  It also helped that the day before this party, Sankirtan worked with them one on one. With only 15 mins of guidance they improved greatly. I was impressed.”

Ruci is happy to say that each child has made a lot of progress in his or her own academics from the beginning of the year. She explains: “We do a lot of different genres of writing. They write every day for an hour, which includes a short daily lesson. For example, last year we worked on “how to “ books, learning how to clearly write directions. This is difficult for young children, but because they’re writing every day, it becomes easier.”

Ruci keeps samples of their work from year to year and at the end of the year she has them all look at their work from previous years so they can see the amazing progress they’ve made. They become excited about their writing because they’re becoming better writers.  This is something that children don’t often get in a big public school.  Another thing they don’t get in public school is that, first thing in the morning, they chant japa for 10 minutes. No one talks.  They’re very focused.

Finally, Ruci finds that these kids are really special…”much more advanced than I am, spiritually.  This helps me in my own spirituality.”

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