Former NDA English Teacher Opens Our Tritonian Valentine Focus–She’s Engaged!


Cassi Garrison, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

“As I write this, I think about that phrase about God closing a door and opening a window,” shared former NDA English teacher Stefanie Jochman.

Jochman was talking about her transition away from NDA, which included moving to Virginia and traveling to India with her fiance. 

She met her fiance, Dhruv, online, where they bonded over their shared interests.

“We connected over a shared love of movies (I likened dating app conversations to the emails in You’ve Got Mail), space exploration (one of our first conversations was about the Mars rover) and writing,” Jochman said. 

They communicated through writing for two months and afterwards went on their first date. 

“His patience and perseverance definitely won me over,” said Jochman. “That let me know he was special.”

Another moment where she knew he was the one for her was when they took a Thanksgiving road trip to Wisconsin to visit her family, and he fit in perfectly with them. 

“During our drive, we met up with some of his friends who live in the Midwest, and his relationship with them showed me how special he is to everyone in his life,” she said. “It was clear that they all saw and appreciated what I saw.”

On their second date, Dhruv gifted Jochman with two books from a bookstore she had wanted to visit, which showed Jochman that she was important to him.

“I think it’s important for younger people to know that those ‘the one’ moments don’t often play like scenes from a movie,” she shared. “Most of the moments that have let me know that I found my person have been quiet, everyday times when I’m just happy to be next to him, or we say the words and phrases that have become a part of our own shared language.”

However, their engagement definitely seemed filmworthy, she explained.

It happened on a trip to India to visit some of Dhruv’s extended family, where he took her on a mystery trip sandwiched between visits to Banglore, the city where he was born.

Dhruv proposed in Shimla, a mountain town in the Himalayas that Jochman called the “most beautiful place [she’s] ever been.”

“The proposal happened at night in a gazebo on the grounds of our hotel. The hotel set up an amazing private dinner of traditional himachali food, and there were coal fires and blankets to keep us warm on the chilly mountain night,” she said. 

“That night felt like a dream,” she continued, “but the rest of the trip did, too. Everyone in Dhruv’s family was so warm and welcoming, and his parents threw a beautiful engagement party for us that gave me a chance to meet a lot of special people in the family’s life.”

She added that this was many of the family’s first time seeing each other since COVID, so there was “definitely a lot of joy in the room.”

Since their engagement, Jochman and Dhruv have been living in Virginia, where Jochman is in the middle of her sixth year at Trinity Episcopal School in Richmond.

“It’s a place that reminds me a lot of Notre Dame in terms of its family atmosphere and its values,” she shared. “I teach 9th grade Reading Writing Workshop and senior IB, what would be IB HL II at NDA.”

Jochman shared that life in Virginia isn’t too different from Wisconsin, aside from the weather, which is very different.

“We don’t have the infrastructure to handle snow or enough salt trucks to combat icy roads, so when any sort of freezing precipitation falls, it usually shuts down roads and schools,” she said. “During my first year, I couldn’t believe that three inches would give us a snow day!” 

Jochman shared that she does miss Wisconsin sometimes, especially her family and friends still living here.

“I miss the heartiness of Midwesterners and seeing familiar faces in unexpected places, though I’ve been surprised at how quickly a bigger city like Richmond can start to feel like a small town,” she said. 

Jochman also added that she misses the taste of fresh cheese curds and Luna coffee, but luckily she can satisfy those cravings during summer trips to the state. 

“Dhruv and I might come back sometime in the future to be nearer to my family, but I don’t think that will happen for a while,” she shared. 

Jochman added that her time at NDA was very special, as it taught her to be the best teacher and colleague she could be.

“I still feel blessed to have worked with all the teachers there. They are super smart, hardworking, big-hearted and good-humored people,” she said. “Leaving the people of NDA was the toughest part of making my leap to Richmond, but I knew that taking a big risk and trying something new might open up new opportunities in my life.”

On her advice to the people of NDA, Jochman said: “Enjoy your time in a very special place, tell people how much they mean to you and don’t be afraid to take a big leap now and then.”