Jayalakshmi Thirugnanam

Teaching with an open mind

Jayalakshmi Thirugnanam is a teacher in mind, heart and soul. Some actually say even in looks! Her love of English started with Literature and over the years evolved rather reluctantly into a love with the elements of the language itself.

She taught English at first to a myriad of willing learners ranging from housewives to truck drivers and she enjoyed every moment with them. Then she found herself teaching youngsters in high school and believed that she was growing with them. With the teens in college, she learnt the art of getting around them while getting them to make their required scores. All this did not seem challenging at all when she looks back today.

When she took the decision of starting up on her own, she decided to do a unique English program that catered to the little people (the kind that she had never dealt with professionally before). The thought of dealing with and handling such young children (ages 4 and above) was terrifying and she had her apprehensions about it. But she decided that she would rise up and take control of the situation. She reminded herself that she was essentially a mother and had already brought up two lovely and kind hearted children of her own. This gave her the impetus to brave the world of the tiny people. Soon she was swarmed by bunches of lovable Lilliputians and like an initially clumsy Gulliver, she gingerly began to walk beside them gaining their trust enough that they could place their little hands in hers.

Her venture Open Mindz was now her baby and she was a single parent nerve wracked about how she would fare as an entrepreneur. But she willed herself to take the risk and to prove to herself that she would succeed.

Entrepreneurship, she learnt over the years, is not just about the profits reaped; it is more about the satisfaction gained in discovering the purpose of one’s life. In Jayalakshmi’s case, it was finding the road to be walked, holding the hands of innumerable children, particularly children with special needs in education. She had not foreseen this scenario at all. She had stumbled on it when she came face-to-face with these extraordinary children not really knowing what made them so.

Even today she doesn’t know the answer to this heart wrenching question. But she does know that she makes a vast difference in their academic life by teaching them how to read, write and grasp via the unique programs she offers. The name Open Mindz (suggested by her husband), she believes could not be a coincidence; it was meant to be. Open Mindz was meant to be a safe haven for these special children where they can open up and bloom under her watchful eyes and intuitive, discerning teaching abilities. Jayalakshmi walks these children into and through mainstream educational setups softening the bumps and maneuvering the potholes along the way.

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