I’m originally from New York and had a wild time as a teenager in Manhattan in the 1980s.  I come from a family of teachers, so an awareness of the educational world was instilled in me from a young age.  My first degree was in Biology from Cornell University, where I learned the importance of using my skills to benefit my community.  After I left Cornell, I worked for an educational corporation in New York where I enjoyed writing textbooks and teaching applicants to medical school.  In 1996 I got married (to Mr Jessup, the other Sanskrit teacher) and moved to the United Kingdom.  Since I have a background in classical languages, I was able to teach Sanskrit at St James.  My skills in textbook writing and syllabus design enabled me to contribute to developing the Sanskrit textbooks that we use in the school today.  Later on, in 2008, I earned an MA in Sanskrit literature from the University of London (SOAS), which qualified me to cover all primary and secondary levels of our Sanskrit curriculum.  I’m now a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society.  Sanskrit is the centre of my life and inspires me in many different ways.  I hope that inspiration is fully conveyed to my students in whatever way is right for them. 

When I’m not teaching, I enjoy walking in the countryside, cooking and eating food, boxing, Vedic chanting and reading science fiction. 

What attracted you to St James? 

The prospect of breaking ground with teaching Sanskrit in a Western setting was what attracted me. I love an intellectual and creative challenge, and designing the curriculum and the books has definitely kept me busy!  St James is one of the only schools in the West which has integrated Sanskrit as part of its curriculum in a meaningful way.  We do not teach Sanskrit in a religious context, but rather as a tool to allow students to pursue philosophy and ethics.  Furthermore, as a classical language, Sanskrit delivers a linguistic training which is second to none. However, our work is never finished – the books and the course always need tweaking. 

What makes a St James education stand out? 

I think the philosophical and spiritual dimension of the education at St James is what makes it stand out. The pupils know, from an early age, that there is more to life than the surface appearance of things.  This spiritual dimension is explored in a non-denominational way, so everyone is included.  It’s very unifying. 

What strikes you about St James pupils? 

I think the pupils regard school as an extension of their family, and there is certainly a “family feel” at St James.  The children feel comfortable here, like they would feel with their own families, and are straightforward and honest.  Also, the pupils are funny – I laugh out loud at something at least once every day!