Dr. Aunampai Passakchai, the Director of Dhammajarinee Witthaya School, was born in 1965 in Ayutthaya, Thailand. She is known as Acharn Yai, meaning “headmaster” in Thai.
In 1993, Acharn Yai joined the small group of Buddhist nuns who created the Dhammajarinee Witthaya School, an entirely free boarding school providing a loving, safe home and traditional education to 20 orphaned girls. In its first years, the nuns were not only running the school, but also teaching the growing number of students each year. Soon the nuns were faced with a big challenge. The Thai Government, in its efforts to ensure good quality national education, required Dhammajarinee to register the school under their Ministry.
In order to remain open, whichever nun would be the Director would have to hold a Masters Degree. Additionally, Dhammajarinee would need to offer the full national curriculum with employed, qualified teachers. The alternative was unthinkable—close the school and send the girls to shelters. Acharn Yai’s compassion would not allow her to see the potential of the girls lost to circumstances. She was determined that her students become self-sufficient, responsible, educated citizens who could contribute to society. With confidence, conviction, and determination she convinced the Thai government to allow the school to transition to a standard school, with her as Director, on the condition that she would be actively working to attain her Master's Degree.
Giving love and providing for the girls, while also overseeing the teaching, was more than a full-time job for Acharn Yai. Yet, through her strong will and perseverance, she succeeded in earning her Master’s Degree in Education. As the school grew in quality and recognition, so did the government requirements for school Directors. Now, Acharn Yai must attain a Ph.D. With her usual unwavering focus, in 2017, she successfully completed her Ph.D. in Education.
DWS is a testament to Aunampai's compassion and determination. The students deeply feel her nourishing and protective qualities. When asked about Acharn Yai, one student recently said, "She is like my second mother. From the very beginning when she picked me up to attend the school, she has given me everything. I feel so blessed by her and this school."
In addition to Dr. Aunampai Passakchai, the school has a strong leadership team with a long-term commitment to the success of Dhammajarinee.