June 12th marked the last day of a moderately successful first year at the New Goloka Community School (NGCS), located in Hillsborough, North Carolina, USA. After pioneering for almost 10 months, the students are happy to take a break during the long summer stretching ahead. They are a bit sad to leave the very sweet daily association of their good friends, but are all hoping that new friends will join them in the Fall when they return! The first year of the NGCS was not without adversity. Challenges present an opportunity to learn and grow, and NCGS has done just that in their fledgling year.
At the beginning of the school year, with only 6 students, the small school building (directly adjacent to the temple) housed both the preschool and the primary school. NCGS thought it would be adequate, but quickly learned that since space was at a premium and disruption was not uncommon, a new facility is paramount. Bir Krishna das Goswami, founder, current resident and spiritual leader of New Goloka, understands the great need for schools for our littlest Vaishnavas and emphatically pushed forward an agenda to construct a dedicated facility for the school on temple grounds. Planning began for the building in April and the final approval with the city came through this month. The projected completion date for this 6000 square foot commercial school structure will be sometime in early 2016.
Ratna Radhika Dasi teaching music
Classrooms and library will be located on the 2nd floor, while the huge hall downstairs will be used as an auditorium and, during inclement weather, indoor movement. In the interim, a temporary facility will serve as the Balarama group (primary school) and the prior facility will be utilized again for the Krishna group (preschool). When NCGS is not in session (weekends, breaks, summer, etc.), this facility, complete with a commercial kitchen, will be used as a Community Center, for events, lectures, gatherings, a dining hall, as well as the growing and thriving New Goloka Sunday School and It Takes a Village afterschool program.
Lesson #1: A need for separation (preschool and primary School) underscores the need for community togetherness.
At the beginning of the school year, the teachers experimented with a curriculum that was highly rate, but proved to be difficult to adapt to the teaching of Srila Prabhupada and Krishna consciousness. By winter break, the teachers decided to adopt a new method that would allow them to use Srila Prabhupada’s teachings more directly. The teachers were free to pick and choose books that they felt comfortable teaching from and gave them the time and freedom to teach Krishna consciousness and the Krishna conscious world view to the students, as well as the practical skills for simple living and high thinking. While NCGS certainly provides students with the academic instruction and subjects they need to progress and become functional adults, our main mission is to teach them about Krishna and to love kirtan! This is what any devotee school should do, first and foremost.
Lesson #2: KISS (Keep It Simple, Sadhu): teach and perform Nama Sankirtana.
Urmila Dasi telling stories
Lastly, it became evident during the school year that although the school has many well-wishers and supporters, a larger hands-on collective is needed. The vision of this community school is that it is the community's school. Everyone is welcome to participate, and their input is valuable. Open communication, transparency with all decisions, and the ability to work cooperatively in the best interest of the children and their families is invaluable. NGCS imbibes this philosophy, which is a beautiful example for not only the local community, but the larger worldwide Vaishnava community as well.
Lesson #3: It really does take a village to raise a child (especially Vaishnava children).
The New Goloka Community School is accepting applications for new students in pre-K through 8th grade. The school year will start right after Janmastami and Labor Day (September 8th, 2015), so there is still plenty of time for families to move into the area and get situated before school begins.
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For more information about the temple and the school in Hillsborough, North Carolina (located in the Greater Raleigh area), please visit website at www.ncecotech.org and click on “All About New Goloka”.[ education ] [ new-goloka ] [ north-carolina ]