Founders & Philosophy

Our Founders

BHS was founded by a community of educators and philosophers who were convinced of the need for new approaches to education. They envisioned an educational climate that would foster the overall intellectual and emotional development of each student in every aspect of daily life. A community whose members would be held together by an ethical and profoundly spiritual bond, regardless of individual backgrounds and beliefs.

Dr. Annie Besant

Dr. Annie Besant was a political activist in the early part of the century. She was involved in helping to establish the first trade unions in London and was also very instrumental in the struggle for independence in India. She was president of the international Theosophical Society based in Adyar, Chennai, India for 26 years.

In 1927, Dr. Besant purchased the land where the Besant Hill School now exists for the purpose of creating an educational community where “students and teachers were to be unfettered in their research and educational experiments.” She envisioned a community that would foster the development of individuals to pursue the task of practical and effective social change.

Dr. Guido Ferrando

Happy Valley School opened its doors in the fall of 1946 under the direction of Dr. Guido Ferrando, a retired philosophy professor from Vassar. Ferrando believed strongly in the Socratic method of teaching, encouraging small classes arranged in circles to allow an open flow of questions and discussion between students and teachers.

He viewed education as a process of inquiry where students learn how to think, not what to think, and develop the ability to integrate subjects and cultures into a worldview.

“Education… a process of inquiry where students learn how to think, not what to think.”
Dr. Guido Ferrando

Aldous Huxley

Famed English novelist and social critic, Aldous Huxley is probably best known for his classic science fiction work Brave New World. Huxley served as a trustee of Happy Valley School for fifteen years and was instrumental in developing the school’s educational philosophy, the balance between academics and creative expression, as well as the principle of respecting the unique potential of each student.

J. Krishnamurti

Internationally renowned as one of the great teachers and philosophers of our time, J. Krishnamurti avidly believed that education should prepare individuals to understand and face human problems, be free from prejudice and fear, and should emphasize cooperation and inquiry over dogma.

Robert Logan

A prominent theosophist from Philadelphia and close friend of Krishnamurti, Robert Logan was a great contributor to the Happy Valley School. He and his wife Sara shared an unwavering devotion to Annie Besant and eagerly supported her vision for Happy Valley, to create a community of people who would help to move mankind beyond the present age of violence and materialism. Together with Louis Zalk, he was a key finacial underpinning for the school and, upon his death in 1965, he left a third of his estate to Happy Valley.

Rosalind Rajagopal

One of the original founders of the school and acting director for over 20 years, Rosalind Rajagopal emphasized non-competitiveness in the classroom. She advocated tolerance and encouraged each student to maintain their independent spirit while living in the context of an international community. Rosalind was instrumental in helping to instill in the school a spirit of living and learning with affection.

Louis Zalk

Louis Zalk

Louis Zalk was a businessman from Duluth, Minnesota, whose path converged into a partnership and friendship with other founders of the school based on the ideals and activities that bound them together for the rest of their lives. A key link was the joint esteem for education as the best alleviation for society’s ills, especially in the eyes of those committed to nonviolence. Louis was descended from a rabbinical family that, much like the families of Krishnamurti and Rajagopal, sought spiritual as well as sociological strength through learning.

Our Philosophy

The philosophy of Happy Valley School, now known as Besant Hill School of Happy Valley, is drawn from the vision of our founders, who believed that the environment which encourages the fullest development of student potential is one that affords the opportunity to explore creative as well as intellectual abilities. We believe in working together in a spirit of cooperation, not conformity, seeking to cultivate and express what is excellent in each. Intellectual curiosity and a spirit of inquiry are the activating factors in the educational process, while active participation in school community builds caring and responsible individuals, promoting lives of integrity, awareness, and purpose.

Our motto of “Aun Aprendo” reflects our belief that life can be lived in its fullest sense through lifelong efforts toward personal development and growth.

Lives in the Shadow: with J. Krishnamurti

Lives in the Shadow: with J. Krishnamurti

by Radha Rajagopal Sloss
Published September 18, 2000

This is not only the story of one person. It is the story of the relationships of J. Krishnamurti and people closely involved with him, especially Rosalind Williams Rajagopal and D. Rajagopal, my mother and father, and of the consequences of this involvement on their lives. Recently there have been biographies and a biographical film on Krishnamurti that have left areas, and a large span of years, in mysterious darkness. It is not in the interest of historical integrity, especially where such a personality is concerned, that there be these areas of obscurity.

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