Tergar School Kathmandu Transforms

From Lynette Zapp, Head of School at Tergar School Kathmandu.

This is a reflection about awareness, love and compassion, wisdom, and joy. 

My first trip to Tergar School Kathmandu was in the Fall, 2022. I was going to explore and see if it was a place I felt I could bring benefit to. What caught my immediate attention was Mingyur Rinpoche’s mission for Tergar Schools. I thought, “how wonderful to acknowledge the basic goodness in every child and use this as a foundation to engage them.” This trip was meaningful enough that I decided to join the community in January, 2023. 

When I arrived at the beginning of this year, there were seven novice teachers and fifty-two students of varying ages, many with little or no school experience. The teachers worked hard to bring the best learning to students. They demonstrated dedication, perseverance and commitment to their role. And, perhaps most importantly, they were a team—supporting each other and working together. Yet, they struggled due to a lack of structure. Rinpoche’s vision was great, but there was a lot of work to be done in order to implement it. 

The boys were also rough when I first arrived. They struggled to maintain their effort throughout the class day; to differentiate between school and “home” time; and to distinguish between classroom space and extra curricular space. They needed to develop a healthy respect for learning and for their community.   

Working together over the past ten months, we have created a ton of change. The school environment is transformed, in both form and feel. The teachers have a well articulated curriculum to work from that blends Tibetan Buddhism with traditional disciplinary subjects. The students are growing in their kindness and respect. There is cohesion amongst the community. 

The teachers have engaged in rigorous training and are greatly improved. Their genuine desire to learn and take risks has allowed them to grow quickly. During weekly professional learning—whether in-person or online—teachers remain engaged, asking questions and committing to try new ideas in their classrooms. They understand it takes time and multiple attempts to achieve success as educators. I explain to them, failure does not exist. Instead, we learn when things don’t go the way we want and we carry on. I am continually overwhelmed by their thoughtfulness, wisdom and curiosity.

We now have nine teachers and eighty-two students. Teachers are confident in their classroom.  Students are engaged and respectful and excited to share their learning. The classroom environment is beginning to reflect the learning that is happening with anchor charts and student work. Teachers are excited to share celebrations of their work. Coming from a North American mindset of ‘I know it all’ it is truly a joy to work with a group of educators who embrace the notion of continual improvement. 

I am so grateful for this opportunity and am excited to see where the next year takes us. Our community is filled with amazing people who have passion and are joyful for the chance to be a part of Tergar Schools.