Former Faculty Focus: Trupti Patel P ’32 (ASL 2000-05; 2017-20)

Former Faculty Focus: Trupti Patel P ’32 (ASL 2000-05; 2017-20)

“I was never supposed to be a teacher,” admits former lower school faculty member Trupti Patel. “I knew from the age of six that this is what I wanted to do, but as a child of immigrant parents, I was meant for a different path.”

The third of four kids, Trupti was born in the state of Gujarat, northwest of Mumbai, India. At age six, she and her family moved to Jersey City, New Jersey—where everything was new: the city, the school, the language. Despite the novelty of it all, Trupti flourished as a first grader, thanks to a teacher who knew how to foster her sense of belonging. “She was so warm and loving,” Trupti recalls. “She created an environment where all the kids in her class wanted to help a student like me learn English.” As Trupti came of age, first in Jersey City, then in Yonkers and Rockland County, New York, she clearly understood her parents’ expectations that she should grow up to be a doctor. “It’s a familiar narrative,” explains Trupti. “Your parents sacrificed so much so you could have opportunities for education, and for my hard-working mother and father and their extended community of family and friends, medical school is considered the gold-standard opportunity for the next generation.”

This is how Trupti landed in a pre-med program at Rutgers University, post-high school—but only for a year. “My subpar grades spoke for themselves,” Trupti laughs. “My parents finally understood that I was not emotionally invested in their doctor plan after all.” With renewed determination and moxie, she enrolled in teachers’ college, ready to do what she felt called to do all along. Thus began Trupti’s distinguished and diverse career in education, 30 years and counting, that has ushered her into elementary classrooms all over the world: New York, Japan, Senegal, and to London and ASL—twice! “Working at ASL changed my life,” she praises. 

Trupti credits former lower school principal Julie Ryan (ASL 1994-2013), who hired her in 2000 to teach Grade 4, for setting her course and the standards for how she wanted to follow it. “From classroom displays to relationship-building, Julie taught me how to raise the bar continually in everything I did,” recalls Trupti. It was Julie who encouraged her to pursue library science, giving Trupti the chance to run the Lower School Library for several years. She relished working with every single lower school student and teacher, engaging with parents, hosting reading conferences, and bringing her teaching background to the weekly lessons she conducted with young readers. “My favorite time of day was 8-8:30 am, when the kindergarten students were clamoring for my book recommendations,” she reflects.

For Julie, a seasoned recruiter with an eye for spotting talent, Trupti’s ardent enthusiasm for teaching was evident from their first phone call. “She immediately struck me as a very committed educator who was passionate about teaching and helping students be their best,” Julie remembers. “Trupti modeled lifelong learning to colleagues and students alike, and created a classroom that was accepting of all learners and personalities.” When Trupti left ASL to teach at the American School in Japan, Julie’s response was bittersweet. “I was determined not to show my disappointment,” she explains, “because it was a great opportunity for her.” 

Several schools (and continents) later, Trupti returned to the ASL community—this time with a family. After meeting her future husband, Gary Posner, in New York, and adopting their son from Ethiopia, they moved abroad to teach at the International School of Dakar. In 2017, Trupti, Gary and young Zeke ’32 set off again for London; Trupti taught Grade 3, and a year later, Zeke entered K1. Although her second ASL stint overlapped with COVID lockdowns, it was still a special time for Trupti to be back in the Lower School, parenting and teaching alongside coworkers she had long admired. Among them was Patrick Lee (ASL 1995-present), who was elated when Trupti came back to ASL. “Trupti has this incredible ability to connect with others,” he lauds. “A natural collaborator, she brings people together and develops relationships so that everyone working on a project or task, no matter what it is, feels seen or heard.”

Even when Trupti left ASL a second time, her next chapters have included numerous ASL connections. At Greenwich Country Day School in Connecticut, where she next landed, she was reunited with former ASLer Maria Puntereri (ASL 2008-14). This new school year brings yet another job and another school; Trupti joins New York City’s Friends Seminary School as the dean of faculty, where she will report to Devan Ganeshanathan (ASL 2018-23), former ASL high school principal and Friends’ new associate head of school. Erin Gordon (ASL 2002-06), Friends’ lower school principal, is another ASL staff alum and connection for Trupti. “I’m really excited to meet and reunite with these colleagues,” Trupti shares. “I’m looking forward to being back in New York.” But for Trupti, and for so many others, ASL remains close to her heart. “Even now, all of my tentacles are tethered to my favorite people from ASL,” she says. Trupti’s impressive path continues, and we are proud to call her an Eagle.