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Reorganization of Family Program letter

RE: Reorganization of the Family Program

August 3, 2017

Hello Dharma Friends!

I hope this letter finds you well after a restful summer full of beauty and delight.

Presently, the Family Program at the Kadampa Center takes the form of providing Sunday morning classes for children and an annual family dharma camp to the community yet the vision for our Family Program can be much more inclusive and expansive. Some dreams I have heard verbalized by our members include:

  • monthly parent book clubs

  • quarterly parenting discussion groups

  • multi-generational special topic classes and workshops

  • field trips near and far (think to the zoo for animal blessing)

  • community service efforts

  • developed high school/teen program

  • childcare for Discovering Buddhism modules

This past year I volunteered as Family Program Coordinator, Sunday Class Facilitator, Sunday Morning Teacher, and Dharma Camp Facilitator. Erin Sloan volunteered as Curriculum Developer and Implementation and too many of you to name individually here volunteered as teachers and assistants to the five classes we offered each week. Many of you are volunteering this summer in the vital roles needed to make Dharma Camp happen in just a month. When I think of the power of our numbers, much less the minds and hearts each number represents, I have no doubt we can develop the type of all-embracing community many dream of.

This type of comprehensive community requires a change in organization. A Cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled process.  As members of Kadampa Center, we have a common aspiration to provide thinking tools to our children that will assist their minds in becoming the best them they can be. Feedback says that we need support as parents to incorporate our practice in the way that we parent.  

After discussions with sangha and the management team members, I am proposing a new organizational model be adopted starting this September when Sunday classes resume. We can start with developing a new Family Program Committee and changing the way Sunday morning volunteers are organized. This will allow continuance of our children’s class offering, while leaving space to add the dreams mentioned above as volunteers come forward.  

Starting September 10th, we will again offer children’s classes on Sunday mornings with changes from continuous classes to a module design similar to Discovering Buddhism modules.The children’s modules will be in 4 week sessions discussing one of the 16 Guidelines each time. One teacher will commit to teach a 4 week module with parents assisting each week to provide in class help, snacks, or other services. Similarly, each child will sign up for that module if they are able to come 2 or more times. There will be some drawbacks of this types of organization, yet I believe the benefits will be great:

  • Stability and familiarity in the teacher/student relationship

  • Continuity in lesson and content from one week to the next

  • Deeper study and more personal connection to their practice for the teacher

  • Consistent parent/teacher communication can develop community relationships

  • Long term sustainability and short term dependability of the volunteer and the program as a whole

By August 11th, I will set up the first three modules in a format in which we can begin to staff the offerings and fill the classes. The first three 16 Guidelines we will offer will be:

  • Principles: Sept 17, 24, Oct 1, 8

  • Service: Oct 15, 22, 29, Nov 5

  • Courage:  Nov 12, 19, Dec 3, 10

The four class offerings will be:

  • Preschool

  • Lower Elementary

  • Upper Elementary

  • Middle School.  

*If you know you are interested in one of these guidelines and that you can allocate four weeks in a row, please reply back now with the guideline and the age range you’d like to teach.

*If you know your child is interested in attending and available to attend any of these modules, look out for a module sign-up sheet in a week that will prompt you to commit, receive class relevant communications, and provide support to the students and the teacher through a choice of volunteer roles.

*If you know you’d like a word in how this change of organization happens, please reply back now that you want to be on the new Family Program Committee. A formal invite will come with the Sunday module sign-up sheet.

Thank you for allowing me to represent you all this past year.  I look forward to continuing to build our community stronger through collaboration, accountability, and adhesive solutions. Please feel free to ask any questions, offer any advice, and drop a line anytime!

With Metta,

Christy Batts
Family Program Coordinator