The Words of the Tamayo Family
Letter Of Support For BTA
Steve and Jeri Tamayo
January 11, 2008
Our Movement has long faced the serious need for a curriculum and environment that would better educate our high school 2nd generation youth to live and pursue a God-centered, principled lifestyle. The Blessed Teens Academy (BTA) is a growing program that is designed to educate high school 2nd generation youth to cultivate and fulfill their God-given talents, gifts and responsibilities, first and foremost, by transforming them through a God-centered and heart-centered, principled education. The BTA program and curriculum has been improved and polished as the school has grown, based upon experience as well as input from supporters, students and parents alike, wishing to attend and support the school.
As a background, the Blessed Teens Academy began in Reno, Nevada with 10 boys and 2 girls attending. Steve and Jeri Tamayo were the couple educating and caring for this first group. There were many outings and much spiritual guidance was given during this first year. Richard and Kazuyo Wiltermood joined the staff. In the second year, the BTA moved into the Church center in Las Vegas, Nevada. From that time, the Academy started and has continued to follow the tradition of 5:00 AM Hoon Dok Hae every day. BTA became very active in doing Service Projects for the Las Vegas community. That year, Andy and Laurie Shoultz also joined the staff, plus a few 2nd generation youth began to help in that capacity.
Enrollment grew slowly with students coming and going. From the third year, the BTA began to organize students and staff into trinities to better support the students. We also began to have Divine Principle lecture competitions and more workshops, for the students as well as for the surrounding community.
In May of that year, BTA moved to its current location in Berkeley, California. In the fourth year of the BTA, many more 2nd generation youth learned to practice the tradition of True Parents and Divine Principle in everyday life. For the first time, there was a formal graduation for the students. Another valuable addition to the program was the Rischl family. They have four children who are involved in the program, plus their mother (Grandma Mary) who is with us, as well. With the Rischl family, we now have 3 generations living together, and thus we are able to experience and practice the "3 Three Great Realms of Heart".
As mentioned above, the successful education that the students receive at BTA is due, in part, to the creation of a system of trinities designed to support the spiritual growth of each student. Starting from the top, each teacher is responsible for two college-age interns (elder 2nd generation youth who volunteer for a minimum of one year).
Each intern is responsible for two trinities. Each trinity consists of 3 to 5 students. Within each trinity, one leader and one assistant are chosen to be trinity leaders. Through this vertical organization, a system of reporting and consulting is set up from each student to his or her elders and teacher so that the teacher is able to support and take care of the needs of each individual child.
A principled and heartistic Cain and Abel relationship is taught within that system, and the students learn a vertical tradition wherein the younger learns to respect and support the elder as "victorious Cains", and the elder learns their heavenly responsibility to take care of their younger brothers and sisters as "true Abels". This sets in motion an environment where God can work and support each child's growth as they learn to make good conditions in their life that will help them in developing their relationships with their parents and their family, as well as with God, True Parents, and the True Family.
In the last 5 years, BTA has moved out of its "growth stage" and is now looking to make a significant impact upon a larger audience of 2nd generation youth around the world. Augmenting the curriculum of BTA, students have the option of participating in Jr. STF. The Academy has Field Educators who are already implementing this program.
Currently, we are training 40 students at our facility, and have had to turn away several new applicants for lack of additional space. The new facility that we are seeking to acquire will enable BTA to fulfill its educational goals as well as provide the freedom it needs to grow into an international institute able to house as many students as wish to enroll, without compromising the quality of education for each 2nd generation youth.
As the enrollment expands, we will increase the staff through year-round outreach to potential new staffers. Then, during summer breaks, we will have a training period to educate new staff and interns. As soon as we move into new and larger facilities, we'll be able to start receiving and training these new staff.
In the coming year, our goal is to train enough staff and interns to enable us to successfully care for and lead the number of students already requesting to enroll. We expect our enrollment could expand to 100 students in the future years, and then more than likely grow beyond that number in the following years. BTA will remain as a "home-stay home school" institute, with the end-goal focused on principled spiritual and heartistic education.
We are looking for anyone who is willing to help fund the cost and support the BTA in its need to expand and grow.
As Heavenly Father inspires the parents, interns and students, the Blessed Teens Academy is developing more and more every year. None of the parents or early students thought that this effort to educate Blessed Children would have blossomed as much as it has in such a short time. We are very excited for this new year, and what God has in store for the BTA.
Steve and Jeri Tamayo
Blessed Teens Academy
2717 Hearst Ave.
Berkeley, CA. 94709