Naomi Rokotnitz
Naomi Rokotnitz
Old Bedalian 1992

In what way did your time at Bedales influence your education and career progression?

I will forever be grateful to all my teachers at Bedales not merely for teaching their subjects with enthusiasm, but for encouraging the pupils to learn how to learn. Today, when I stand before a class, I am often reminded of my teachers and the advice they gave me regarding focusing on the question at hand, researching multiple sources, qualifying statements, balancing arguments, anchoring claims in the text, even setting adjectival endings to music or underlying different themes in a novel in different colours. 

The most rewarding and long-lasting aspect of my experience as a pupil was the cumulative methodology, the learning strategies that each teacher offered and the fact that you always received two grades – one for achievement and one for effort. But this would not have resounded so powerfully if it were not accompanied by the confidence the teachers, without exception, sought to instil in us. I always felt that the openness and inclusiveness of the school allowed anyone to shine, if they were inclined to do so. If you were not a great actor, you could paint the set; if you were not a classical musician, you might prefer to play at the school's Jazz Folk and Poetry festival; if you were not a great linguist, your stand-up comedy at Assembly would be appreciated just as much. 

One’s talents, whatever they were, were not only noted but respected, and that allowed many different kinds of individuals to feel their take on life was valid and interesting. Thankfully for me, pupils inclined to actually study also found their academic efforts were closely monitored and developed. I simply had to do my best. I am not sure I would have thought of applying to Cambridge if Ruth Whiting had not informed me she had already signed me up, and that proved one of the most defining periods of my life so far. And beyond all that, the sense of community at school, the feeling that if you approached a teacher regarding any matter, however personal, you would always be heard with patience and sympathy, that created an environment which, for me, was instrumental in shaping the person and the academic I am today. 

What is your fondest memory of Bedales?

Probably the Jazz Folk and Poetry (JFP) festivals, but also Whole School Efforts at the Badley weekend, camping in Dartmoor, sneaking out at 4am to go binging, early-morning swimming, baking, voluntary service, the atmosphere “on flat,” apple crumble…  

What is your favourite pastime?

Today? Family, friends, going to the beach, climbing mountains.

What is your proudest achievement?

My kids.

Year of leaving Bedales: