Saturday 9 December 2023 | Kartik Vad 12, Samvat 2080

Sat 9 Dec 2023

The minds of young children are like sheets of plain paper. Their teacher determines the kind of writing that is inscribed on their minds - Acharya Swamishree Maharaj

Jashu Vekaria, a volunteer teacher at Shree Swaminarayan Mandir, Kingsbury and full time teacher at Uxendon Manor Primary School in Kenton was nominated by pupils and staff at her school for this year’s Pearson Teaching Award, recognizing her continuous commitment to her students and her profession.

The awards celebrated the best in the profession across the UK and 10 very special teachers which included Jashu, were awarded the Gold Plato Award.

Jashu has been teaching for 15 years and has made a tremendous impact in the schools and communities in which she has worked. She is a wonderfully gifted teacher and has been an inspiration to both children and adults alike. Alongside these commitments, Jashu also gives back to the community and volunteers to teach Gujarati, every Saturday morning through the Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Academy of Excellence.

Jashu explains, ‘Though born in England, I grew up speaking Gujarati and started school at the age of 5 speaking very little English. My learning journey progressed rapidly and for me school was always a place of sanctuary where I could get lost in a book and use my imagination to endless possibilities’

She continued, ‘I’ve had such great role models within the community at Shree Swmainarayan Mandir, Kingsbury, and none more so than Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. He not only inspires everything that goes on at the Mandir, but is a personal inspiration to me in all regards, including my teaching career. The Mandir community has embraced and nurtured my talents and has given me a great platform to learn and excel within my various teaching roles.’

Jashu said, ‘Things like this do not happen to me. My teaching journey has been of great joy as each day is so different. Teaching is my passion… It is my life. I am humbled to receive such an esteemed award. The National Teaching Awards represents so much but what’s behind it? The very essence of this award is about the children… our future. May we empower them, make them think, question and learn. Let’s keep lighting the fire inside to keep the learning alive.’ A philosophy inspired by Acharya Swamishree Maharaj’s teachings.

Jashu’s commitment to her students is second  to none; one example includes spending the night in a shed with no electricity, heating or lighting to ensure that a child with special needs was able to come on a school trip – giving up the comfy staff sleeping quarters to allow the child’s parents to stay with them.

The entire Shree Swaminarayan Mandir, Kingsbury community is very proud of Jashu’s achievements and we are sure her story will inspire many.