Unification News for September 1996


Building a Heavenly School

by Liisa Burns-Oakland, CA

When I first heard the seven-day Principle Lectures I was sure that I would be perfect in about two years and the ideal world would be here in three. It was a beautiful feeling inside me and I wrote it down in my diary. It has been nine long years since I felt this, and now I'm writing this article because this last week has brought back to me that exact same hope, excitement and enthusiasm.

As the Physical Education teacher at the Sunshine School, I attended a five-day Training Week for all staff. Nineteen of us sat in a circle in a classroom from 8:30am to 3:30pm each day. We started by hearing the School Board news from Mr. Garry Barker and, to my amazement, he estimated that at least half a million dollars has been invested in running the school since the beginning.

We also received a brief history of education, and especially, the history of American education, emphasizing the opportunity our school can have in the educational field. This was presented by Dr. Mose Durst, who must have read at least a thousand books about this topic. He finished by summing up our purpose as teachers and school staff: "to develop virtuous individuals who will devote themselves to a virtuous society, and to carefully develop strategies to create `the moral person,' God-centered individuals who exhibit social justice and civic virtue in advancing God's Kingdom." (These are just part of the whole purpose, for example.)

After this we had a discussion in small groups about the topic "What are the specific characteristics of the ideal human being and how would the culture look when created by ideal human beings?" For my faith and my heart it was so rejuvenating to imagine and put into words what the Kingdom on Earth is like. Then I experienced the incredible burst of enthusiasm and joy that we are concretely making it happen.

The afternoon session was presented by Mrs. Myrna Lapres about Shim- Jeong education, which is a broad and deep topic. This time we spent time in small groups to brainstorm how our big ideals can be put to everyday schoolroom use.

One of the most moving experiences for us all was the spontaneous moment when Kristina Seher shared the beginnings of the school and we could understand that God was guiding the process to start the Sunshine School.

The whole week was filled with information and inspiration. We covered topics such as "How to make a school into a real caring community," "What is the role of Unificationism in our school and its future?" "What is the mission statement of each individual in the staff and for the Sunshine School?"

We were 19 different people, so there were many viewpoints for every topic, and the greatest thing was that every opinion was respected and each individual could share. I just felt strongly in my heart that we are doing this together, we are a team, we have a goal, and everyone is committed to giving their best.

We had three guest speakers: Mr. Eric Bobrycki guided us to make our mission statements, Prof. Sharon Kerns showed us how to improve curricula and make them more continuous from grade to grade, and we had a special session with Dr. Sue Dinwiddie about positive discipline and problem-solving.

During the last reflections on Friday, I was in tears because I have really believed for nine years that the Kingdom of Heaven can be built, but sometimes I've just been wondering how? Now I saw that if we sincerely try to live the Principles Father has given us and invest our effort and ideas, it is possible. I want to thank everyone investing to make the Sunshine School possible to exist, especially the parents who are able to send their children to study there.

There is only one difference from my experience nine years ago. This time I know that to make the ideal into reality requires a great amount of hard work.

Reprinted from "American Neighborhood"


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