Advisors & Teachers

Blue Lion Preschool is incredibly fortunate to have Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche as her Dharma advisor,

alongside his long-time students who are each exceptionally qualified and experienced in their respective fields.



Tashi Colman (Ph.D, Columbia University) was a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in the 1980’s and since then is a student of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.

He taught political science at universities in the U.S. and Canada for two decades and was a researcher and speech-writer at the United Nations. He spent 15 years building comprehensive measures of wellbeing for Nova Scotia, Canada that included extensive research on education, and was editor-in-chief of Reality Check: The Canadian Review of Wellbeing. 

For ten years Tashi lived in Bhutan and worked closely with the government on its holistic progress measures, Educating for Gross National Happiness initiative  (, a new economic paradigm presented to the United Nations, and other development initiatives.

For the past ten years he has worked closely with Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s first Buddhist education initiative, Lhomon Education, in Dewathang, Bhutan. 


Message from Tashi:

As Buddhist parents, Gwen and I “home-schooled” our daughter Hasta, initially together with other Buddhist parents and children with whom she grew up from babyhood and who are still her best friends. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche had designed special children’s ceremonies, celebrations and camps for the children of his students, and we regularly took Hasta to teachings, feasts, and more. Hasta has long been a devoted student of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, lived three years in China, and is now a Ph.D student in China Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C. Though she never really went to ‘school’ in the normal sense, Hasta, Gwen and I have no regrets! 

I mention this not out of parental pride or even to tout the value of our children growing up in Buddhist environs, but for very practical reasons – to reassure Blue Lion parents that they’ve made the right choice! 

First, a Buddhist education is no obstacle to success in the conventional world. On the contrary. A good Buddhist education sharpens and opens children’s minds, improves their critical thinking, develops their natural love of learning, and teaches children to see the world holistically – which means more realistically – the way things really are. That makes them more “successful”! By contrast, most conventional education is through a narrow academic lens, subtly indoctrinates children in conformist norms and values, and too often closes their minds and makes them loath learning. 

I am not exaggerating when I say I’d much sooner trust a Finance Minister who had never studied economics than one with a Ph.D Economics from Harvard University. Why? Because the latter has literally swallowed a deeply flawed economic paradigm that wrongly sees the economy in isolation from the natural world, that believes in endless growth, and that is literally destroying the world that our children will inherit. “More” education of the flawed conventional kind without the holistic lens that is intrinsic to Buddhism is downright dangerous. 

2,500 years ago, Plato wrote: “Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Therefore do not use compulsion, but let early education be a sort of amusement; you will then be better able to discover the child’s natural bent.” Plato was no Buddhist, but I think he would love the Blue Lion curriculum. And I am quite sure he would savagely critique modern education with its stress-inducing exams, grading, compulsory attendance and homework, and relentless achievement and career orientation. How many high-school graduates never want to open another book?! How sad that is when children intuitively love to learn. 

For all these reasons – but above all for our children to see clearly and understand the world as it truly is, and for their innate love of learning, curiosity, questioning, reading and more naturally to become a life-long pursuit of the truth, I am so grateful to our Buddhist masters for their determination to create a genuinely Buddhist learning environment for our children. And I am deeply grateful to the parents of our first Blue Lion students for their wisdom in choosing this path and for their courage in letting their own children be the guinea pigs in what will surely benefit generations of children to come.

(10 August 2020)



Dagmo Kushok Kalden was born in Kalimpong, India, in the Tibetan year of the Horse. Upon completing her elementary school studies in boarding schools in India, Dagmo la obtained an academic scholarship to pursue her higher studies in the USA, where she graduated with an honours degree in Psychology.

In her youth, Dagmo la excelled both at studies and sports, especially swimming. A strong interest in social work prompted her to volunteer in many charitable organisations such as The Missionaries of Charity, as well as to participate in various programmes such as ‘Adopt-A-Grandparent’ and ‘People Who Care’, involving weekend visits to neighbouring hospitals and old people’s homes.

After joining the holy Khön family through marriage in 2002, she took on the responsibility of serving Sakya Hospital, eventually in the capacity of Director in 2004.

Over the years, she has established (how many?) Montessori schools in India, and also founded several non-profit organizations, such as Tara Foundation and Kalden Designs, to promote environmental causes and support the poor.

Apart from her charitable involvements, Dagmo Kushok is also homeschooling her three children.

Message from Dagmo La

As parents we want the best for our children. And as a mother, I have come to realize that however much you want your child to be a certain way, each child has unique propensities, character traits and predispositions. Some are more sensitive, some less so. Some are patient, some not so much. Some are worriers by nature, and some just couldn’t care less! While these inherent traits cannot be changed so easily, it IS possible to maximize or minimize these traits not only for our children’s happiness and peace of mind, but the happiness and peace of mind of those around them as well. 

And a lot of this change can be achieved through teaching them from a young age to:

  • have compassion towards all living beings,
  • accept the uniqueness and also the similarity of all living beings,
  • understand that all living beings have feelings and emotions just like them. 

With such understanding, I believe that our children will most certainly be happier individuals and also make the world around them a better, happier place. 

I am happy that Blue Lion Preschool was established with this aim in mind, and I am excited to see the positive effect Blue Lion will have on the lives of these little children, their families, and their futures. 

(14 August 2020)


Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is the founder and advisor of Blue Lion Preschool. He is a student of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Dudjom Rinpoche, Kyabje Sakya Trichen, and the 16th Karmapa. He heads six monasteries and institutes of Buddhist study in Asia, and oversees centres for the study and practice of Buddhism all around the world.


He has authored several books on following the Buddhist path in the contemporary world, including “What Makes You Not A Buddhist” and “Not For Happiness”; and made five award-winning films including The Cup (1999), Hema Hema; Sing Me A Song While I Wait (2016) and Lady with Fangs and a Moustache (2020).


He has founded and continues to direct several major non-profit organizations, including:

  • Khyentse Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that supports all traditions of Buddhist study and practice; 
  • 84000, a global non-profit initiative translating all of the Buddha’s teachings into modern languages and making them freely accessible; 
  • Siddhartha’s Intent, which has teaching and practice centres on five continents; and
  • Lotus Outreach, which gives access to health, education and safety to many at-risk girls in Cambodia and India.


Over the years, Rinpoche has set up several education initiatives, including Lhomon Education Initiative in Bhutan, Kanishka School in India, Middle Way School in the United States, and now – Blue Lion Preschool in Singapore. 



Message from Rinpoche

We all have mind. Children have mind… It might be good to simply ask, “Do you have mind?” It does not necessarily require an answer. 


There’s a cognizance, there’s a mind – and this is important to understand. 


Mind is that which is wanting, needing, and interpreting. Mind is so powerful. So in our education, if we could somehow have a way to manage this mind, if we can have a technique to train the mind… 


And then not just the mind, but also the body. Taking care of the body is very, very important. The body is the container of the mind; then the Earth is the container of the body. The world that we live in is our dwelling place. It’s like our bedroom. We cannot make a mess out of this — our dwelling place.


(20 May 2020)


Ms Hui Hua
Advisor / School Artist 

Hui Hua has over 20 years of experience in early childhood education.
She studied Social Work and Literature for her Bachelor of Arts from National University of Singapore and spent 5 years at the AECES (SG) working on special and community development projects. She then went on to pursue a Masters in Psychotherapy (Arts) from Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia with a partial scholarship from AECES.
Hui Hua is an art therapist, teacher trainer, an author and a co-founder of Between Two Trees Preschool.
She strongly believes in including visual arts as a crucial component of early education and in providing children with the widest range of materials to facilitate their learning.
As the school advisor, Hui Hua works closely with the BLP staff and families on school administration, operation and curriculum.



Charmaine co-founded a successful preschool called Between Two Trees Preschool in 2009 which later won Outstanding Centre for Teaching and Learning in 2019 awarded by Singapore’s regulatory Early Childhood Development Agency. Charmaine exited B2T after having co-written the B2T Way®, which is about B2T’s project learning curriculum that has evolved from an inspiration to build and offer a different preschool experience in Singapore.

Charmaine provides an active voice in the field, consults for education organizations and coaches teachers and leaders in early years education. She currently serves as a volunteer director at Blue Lion Preschool Singapore, and as Vice-President of the Association for Early Childhood Educators (Singapore). Prior to being in the education field, she was a finance lawyer with a private equity fund.

Charmaine is currently completing her Doctorate in Education at the National Institute of Education, Singapore. She has a Master of Science (Early Childhood Education) from Monash University, Singapore and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from University of Bristol, United Kingdom.

Charmaine lives in Singapore with her husband and 3 children. They have 3 budgies, a lovebird and a tortoise.




Heather Sanche has been an early childhood educator and teacher trainer for the past twenty-five years. Her work experience is in mainstream, Waldorf, and Montessori pedagogical approaches, including ten years teaching and living in Asia.

Heather has been a practicing Buddhist since 1994. In 2007 she took temporary ordination within the Pau Auk tradition and lived in a forest monastery near Mawlamyine, Myanmar. From 2008 to 2012 she completed a traditional three-year meditation retreat.

Heather began her education career at the University of Colorado. where she received an athletic scholarship in track and field and cross country. She earned her B.A. in Early Childhood Education from Naropa University and a post-graduate diploma in Intercultural Education and Training from the University of Victoria.

She currently resides on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, with her husband and two young children.


Message from Heather


As an early childhood educator, author, Buddhist practitioner, and a mother of two young children I find the greatest support in my life as well as the unifying factor or intersection between all these different aspects of my work is the basic foundations of meditation.


Meditation is a technique to open up to space, and within that space, all kinds of feelings, emotions and thoughts arise. When meditating, the idea is to rest and relax into the arising without grasping, attaching or pushing anything away. The meditator simply rests and allows everything to arise and dissipate while maintaining a sense of awareness of the physical space in which they are sitting. Likewise when working in a classroom or with my own children, I aspire to allow the children space to also rest in this contemplative space as they go about their day. At its core, contemplative education is about allowing the child the freedom to explore at his or her own pace and inclination, while the teacher or parents model the inner meditative practice of returning to the present without grasping, attaching or pushing away. 

The reality is that as educators and parents we do get distracted and because of our practice as meditators and followers of the Buddha we can simply arrive within the moment and let go of the extraneous thoughts. We can notice when our minds have wandered and then choose to simply be present. This is at the heart of what we are creating with the Blue Lion curriculum.




Stephanie Lai is a theatre actress and film producer from Taiwan. She was born in America and spent her early childhood in Taiwan. She then later went to England to finish her high school and studied at the London Academy of Drama and Music. Stephanie is married to director/photographer Pawo Choyning Dorji, with whom she has two children. She is also a Khyentse Foundation regional representative for Taiwan.


Message from Stephanie:


As a mother, I value early children’s emotional development and laying the ground for my kids to recognize and accept their emotions.  I also try be as honest as possible of my own emotions as a parent to my children. 


The world is moving too fast for our kids, always rushing them to grow up faster, but children should stay children as long as possible. And we as parents, we try to let our children experience life as much as possible. Diversity has been key in our children’s early childhood as we tried to let them experience Bhutan, India and Taiwan. 


As a parent I strongly believe that education shouldn’t be a tangible goal, but rather we should teach our kids ‘how to learn’ as we are always learning.



Pawo Choyning Dorji is a Bhutanese photographer and film maker, who lives in Taiwan with his wife Stephanie and two children, 11 year old daughter Oddiyana Kanya and 8 year old son Taranatha. 


Pawo has had a multicultural upbringing, growing up in Bhutan, India, the Middle East, Switzerland and the United States. He tries to instill the love of culture in his two children by making them experience and travel as much as possible. 


As a photographer, Pawo has had several photography exhibitions, the most recent being ‘The Light of the Moon’. A five year photography project that took him through the ancient silk roads of central China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to tell forgotten stories of the revival of Buddhism. Pawo has been involved in numerous internationally acclaimed films. His latest film, Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, which he wrote, produced and directed was shot entirely on solar power in the Himalayan glacial village of Lunana, a two week trek from the nearest motor-able road. The film which is about education in the world’s most remote school has won several international awards and has become the only second Bhutanese film to receive an official Oscars entry.



Message from Pawo:


I think as a parent, we must remind ourselves to be patient and listen to our children. I have learnt some of the most important life lessons from my two children. They look at the world as it is, not any judging through any conceptual eyes. 


We have to know that children are born with a sense of purity and innocence. They are then taught by the world we live in to have conceptual thoughts, they lose that sense of purity because the world wants them to ‘grow up’. They must take their time to become adults, they must joyfully play as much as possible. 


Though living in the world without any conceptual thoughts is almost impossible, we must remind ourselves as parents of the purity each child possesses. We must teach them to experience and learn from life as they grow up, yet try and not lose their purity. Because once we have lost it, we either grasp or have aversions to life, and we can spend a lifetime trying to rid ourselves of them.




Ding Nai-Chu is one of the most prominent theatre producers in Taiwan and the Chinese-speaking world. She has produced over 50 plays, including classics such as The Night We Became Xiangsheng ComediansSecret Love in Peach Blossom LandA Dream Like A Dream and The Village. Ding has also produced three films—The Peach Blossom LandThe Red Lotus Society, and Finding Shangri-La—which have received numerous top awards at international festivals. She was founding Vice President of Super TV. 


A graduate of National Taiwan University majoring in Philosophy, Ding received her M.A. in Education from the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently the managing director of Performance Workshop Theatre, and for years has been a renowned translator of Buddhist teachings.




Born in the U.S., Stan Lai began his creative career in Taiwan, and now his works are performed all over China and the Chinese speaking world, as well as in the West. His noted works include That Evening, We Performed Crosstalk (1985), Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land (1986), and the epic 8-hour A Dream Like A Dream (2000), called by China Daily as “possibly the greatest Chinese-language play since time immemorial.”


Lai has also written and directed two widely acclaimed feature films, The Peach Blossom Land (1992) and The Red Lotus Society (1994), the former which received top prizes at the Tokyo, Berlin, and Singapore international film festivals. Lai is also an acclaimed opera director and event director (Deaflympics Opening Ceremony, 2009). His awards include Taiwan’s National Arts Award, which he has won an unprecedented two times (1988, 2001), “Man of the Year” for Cultural Affairs, Newsweek China (2010), and a Star on the Walk of Fame at the Sibiu International Theatre Festival (2019).


Lai’s work in the West includes Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (2015),  the opera Dream of the Red Chamber at the San Francisco Opera (2016), his immersive piece Nightwalk in the Chinese Garden at the Huntington Library and Gardens (2018) in Los Angeles, and a workshop production of AGO at the University of California, Berkeley (2019).


Lai holds a Ph.D in Dramatic Art from Berkeley, and has taught extensively at the Taipei National University of the Arts, and at Berkeley and Stanford. His book “Stan Lai on Creativity” is a best seller in China and Taiwan. His plays have been published in numerous Chinese editions including a recent 9-volume set (Beijing, Citic Press), as well as in English versions from Oxford and Columbia University Press. Twelve of his plays are planned to be published in English by the University of Michigan Press.


Lai is currently Artistic Director of Performance Workshop, Taiwan, Theatre Above, Shanghai, and Co-founder and Festival Director of the Wuzhen Theatre Festival, China.


Message from Mr Stan Lai:

(a) Early childhood education is as much a journey for yourself as for your child. How much do you want your child to conform to acceptable social norms, but retain or expand his or her unique-ness? Can we keep our child’s inborn creativity? Can we be conscious when we are stifling it?

(b) A child is actually much closer to the dharma than most adults. How can we keep our child’s appreciation of the simple nature of things, the simple being that is? How can we also cultivate an understanding of cause and effect, how nothing happens without cause, and all causes create effects. This will bring greater awareness to our child — The knowing of the interconnectedness of all, and the knowing that our actions create results.

(C) Any learning of the above must not stop once we leave the school gate, but must continue in our home environment. In this way we may guide our children to naturally become whom they really should and can become, and be a positive force in the world.

(17 September 2020)


Mr Yan Da
Lead Teacher (English)/ Dharma Specialist


Yan Da pursued his Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education (Teaching) from National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIEC) when he joined the Blue Lion Preschool team, and graduated in mid-2022.

His Bachelor of Engineering (Materials Engineering) with honours (distinction) from Nanyang Technological University provides an interesting foundation for him as an educator, as he often taps on scientific methods in his investigation work with children for projects and dharma learning.

He believes in providing children opportunities to explore, recognise and embrace basic goodness in themselves and all sentient beings.
Yan Da looks forward to creating memorable moments and meaningful experiences with the children, the families and the team through the lens of the buddhist at BLP!


Ms Hui Hua
Advisor / School Artist 

Hui Hua has over 20 years of experience in early childhood education.
She studied Social Work and Literature for her Bachelor of Arts from National University of Singapore and spent 5 years at the AECES (SG) working on special and community development projects. She then went on to pursue a Masters in Psychotherapy (Arts) from Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia with a partial scholarship from AECES.
Hui Hua is an art therapist, teacher trainer, an author and a co-founder of Between Two Trees Preschool.
She strongly believes in including visual arts as a crucial component of early education and in providing children with the widest range of materials to facilitate their learning.
As the school advisor, Hui Hua works closely with the BLP staff and families on school administration, operation and curriculum.


Uncle Jimmy

Uncle Jimmy has been cooking professionally for 40 years.
He previously established and ran a chicken rice stall with his wife at a Kopitiam in Bedok Reservoir.
Uncle Jimmy prepares nutritious and delicious food for the children and staff at Blue Lion Preschool!