About Us

Faculty

I grew up in France in a very traditional educational system. I discovered the Montessori philosophy as an adult in the U.S. when I was working at The Children's School (TCS). I fell in love with the Montessori approach and this led me to open Petite Ecole Internationale, Austin’s first French immersion preschool in 2001. I was the founder and head of school for Petite Ecole until I transitioned it to a non-profit after 8 years.

I returned to The Children's School in 2009 and completed my elementary Montessori certification through the NAMC. I taught lower elementary at the TCS for 5 years before becoming assistant head of school and stayed in that position until the school closed in 2017. It is at that time that I decided to go back to school and work towards a Bachelor of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies (K-8). I then joined Magnolia Montessori for All, a public Montessori school with a special emphasis on social justice. At Magnolia Montessori, I became a passionate advocate for English Language Learners. It was very gratifying to witness their progress; when I was able to help my students create a classroom newspaper, for example

My experiences as a student, mother and immigrant shaped my teaching philosophy. I believe that learning is a lifelong process that happens when we build connections with the world around us. As an educator, I want my students to be connected to me, to each other, to their immediate community and to the world at large. I also believe that for students to be able to project themselves into the future and set goals, they need to know where they come from. This is why I teach French with EFA on the weekends. I created a curriculum that will help 3 and 4 year-olds stay in touch with their heritage. This should allow them to smoothly integrate into French society and schools if they return to their home country.

In my free time, I enjoy reading and writing poetry, hanging out with my kids and our dog and cooking.

I am excited to join Sankalpa Academy and continue my growth as an educator.

Samir Patel, M.S.
Curriculum Coordinator and Specialist in School Psychology

One thing I've learned in my journey is that although end goals are useful to direct our path, it is the path itself where happiness is found. For me, that path has been paved by curiosity of the inner life. In my youth, I spent a considerable time exploring world philosophies, world religions, and psychological theories which thereby led to a more formal study of the mind.

I received my B.A. in Psychology from University of Texas at Austin, where I spent quite a bit of time learning about cognitive psychology and the effects of meditation on learning. It was, however, while volunteering at a school in India, that my general curiosity turned into a passion. There, I received an indelible experience of getting to know an incredibly inquisitive and bright student who also had a penchant for blurting out answers in class, making students laugh, and allowing friends to copy his homework from the previous day. He was later expelled for bad behavior and, in all my helplessness at that moment, I wondered about the exceptional students in the world with qualitatively different learning styles who are continually at risk of having their individual potentials go unnoticed, and having their inconvenient behaviors and peculiarities define them. It is intuitive that a human in one environment should act, behave, think and operate quite differently than in another; as is evident that a child's struggle to learn or behave in one environment is not completely reflective of that child's entire personality. It is, rather, only a particular response to a particular condition - much like how plants wither under the conditions of an unrelenting sun. I thereafter pursued and received my M.A. in School Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin motivated by my interest to not only learn how to identify various learning styles and capacities in students but how to effectively create supportive conditions in which every child can blossom -- to learn how to manage and mitigate impediments to the learning process so that each student can receive their needed amounts of sunlight, rainwater and nutrition to thrive. I've since been working passionately as an LSSP, removing barriers one student at a time.

I am excited that at Sankalpa, I will have the great pleasure of working with a wonderful team, collectively enriching learning conditions so that many more students can flourish far before barriers manifest themselves.

Leanne Paulin, B. Sc.
Math and Art

As many of us have experienced, there is always that one teacher who stands out among others. For me, he was the principal of our elementary school and also our fill-in math teacher. From his very first lesson, he instantly elevated the tone of the class, challenging us to create our own math questions, to label them with our own perceived difficulty (were they worthy of a second base hit or a home run?), and to share them with the class, in an ongoing game of math baseball. We were all suddenly very engaged and empowered and took a lot more pride in our work. It was a pivotal moment that left me with lingering questions about why this wasn’t the norm. I asked myself: Could there be more to education? Should there be more to education?

Based on what I have experienced, I wholeheartedly believe that the answer to both of these questions is a resounding yes. Children are natural problem-solvers, seekers, questioners, artists, story-tellers, scientists, mathematicians, and so much more. They have enormous potential, each and every one of them and they deserve to be given these opportunities.

My fourteen years of experience as an educator has taught me so much. I have served in several capacities within the Austin area homeschooling community, I have been a private tutor and finally a homeschooling mother of four. I have seen first hand the benefits that can accrue from using creative approaches to teaching, from asking the right questions, engaging students in a personalized way, seeing each child for who they are and what they offer and helping them to feel that they belong. Children need to feel empowered, valued, excited to learn and in charge of their educational goals.

I am excited to share my passion for teaching and learning with your children at Sankalpa Academy. Though I hold a B.Sc. in Chemistry, I’ve always been an artist and a mathematician at heart. That should not be surprising when you consider how art and math permeate everything and how interconnected all disciplines are. I am excited to share my love of math and art with your children, to learn together the individuality and power of art, to find areas where math and art intersect, and to help them develop a deeper understanding of the universal language of mathematics. This is what I do with my children, in my private art and tutoring lessons, and what I have done for the past three years as a teacher with Austin Area Homeschoolers Math Team.

Vidhya Vasudevan, B.E., RYT-200, RYT-500*
Yoga & Meditation and Sanskrit

I grew up in Southern India and took my first yoga lessons at age 12 from my neighborhood yoga teacher. The traditional yoga he imparted stuck with me and I’ve been practicing since then while continuing to learn from other expert teachers. I graduated as an engineer specializing in Computer Science and pursued a fast-paced career for 8 years across 3 continents . When life presented an opportunity to pursue my passion, I took it and dedicated my time for yoga studies.

I’m a certified yoga teacher and began teaching in 2017. I teach kids at a non-profit educational trust and at the local elementary school as a part of their enrichment classes. I conduct summer camps for kids and teens at my home studio. In my home studio, I teach Vinyasa Krama of Sri. T. Krishnamacharya as taught by his long time student Srivatsa Ramaswami. My lessons involve asanas (yoga poses), pranayama (breath work), yamas and niyamas (principles for peaceful, collaborative relationships) and dharana (concentration and focus). The lessons will be geared towards building awareness, empathy and integrating movements with breath. My interest lies in using and teaching the 8 limbs of yoga to
1. Bring about balance in physical, emotional and mental states
2. Develop mindful concentration and focus to daily experiences

My strength as a teacher comes from living with and learning from my children (ages 7 and 4). I believe that children have the innate ability to focus and experience the moment. I strive to help provide them with the tools from the yoga framework that will strengthen those gifts and allow them to shine as they grow up.

When I first heard about Sankalpa, it was like a dream come true to find a place that puts children first and have such a well thought out model for education. After meeting with Srinivas and his team of talented teachers, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Sankalpa and to share this space with your kids.