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Interview with John C. Gulla

John C Gulla

The Blake School is a pre-K-12, non-sectarian, independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school with campuses in Minnesota.  The Blake School is committed to strong academics with an emphasis on the whole child approach.  An integral part of this perspective is to support students in developing an attitude of service toward others, the school, the community, and even the world. The Foundation has supported the service learning program at the school since 2006

Head of School, John C. Gulla visited the Foundation in February 2010 and sat down to answer a few questions.

John, it is such a pleasure having you here today at the Foundation and thank you for answering a few questions.

Please begin by telling us about the partnership between The Blake School and the Shinnyo-en Foundation.

John:  I’ll begin by saying how grateful I am to be here, to be visiting my friends at the Foundation. It is my first time here at the Foundation though we have been working together for some years.  Through the good work and support of the Foundation and particularly the leadership of Nan Peterson, we have been able to develop a program that began as a dream for us, to expand our community service program, into a service learning program.

Please tell us about the Blake School’s commitment to service learning.

John:  The Blake School is a 110 year old school with an emphasis on the whole child approach and we are honored to have this partnership with the Foundation. We were interested in our students becoming more engaged with the world and to understand the responsibilities and opportunities that they have to make our world a better place, not only for themselves but for all of us on this planet.

Please tell us about what Six Billion Paths to Peace means to you.

John: When Nan first helped me come to understand the Six Billion Paths to Peace initiative, its underlying philosophy resonated with me.  The initiative has also resonated with our school at all levels of the school in large part because it recognizes the individual members of our global community and through the simple but meaningful and brilliant hope that each member of our human civilization would engage in a life of service that would bring peace and harmony.

How is the Six Billion Paths to Peace initiative implemented at the Blake School and how successful has it been?

John: The initiative has been successful, whether it is with our youngest 4 or 5 year old students or with our 17 or 18 year old juniors and seniors.  It is amazing but it also resonates with the adults in our community. The teachers, the staff members and the parents are all part of the initiative. There is regular reference in our community to the individual paths to peace that each of us will find.

Please tell us about the shared values of the Blake School and the Shinnyo-en Foundation.  

John:  I find alignment between the work we do at the Blake School and the values that I understand are espoused by the Foundation. For us it is are our commitment to peace and harmony in our world and to the sacred responsibility that we as adults have to raise children that will bring about some of the changes we seek.  With the Shinnyo-en Foundation there is a sense of gentleness, of respect, of honest engagement, and creativity, all of which are values consistent with the Blake School’s values as we try to work in our partnership with parents to raise a generation of children who we believe will be good citizens of our world.

Going forward, what is your vision on how you see our partnership growing?

John:  I would be very happy to speak about the future of this wonderful relationship. One of the most exciting elements of the Blake School’s partnership with the Foundation has been the opportunity for us to propose new ideas on how our school, and our school community, may engage more fully with other members of the twin cities community. One of the initiatives that I understand is of interest to the Foundation is also of interest to us is to figure out means by which we might create partnerships in the twin cities with some of the native American communities. Our hope is that as our partnership grows and develops, that there will be ongoing discussion and dialogue on how our school’s commitment to all elements of the twin cities community could be supported in an ongoing partnership with the Foundation.

I am most grateful for the support you have given to the service learning program at our school. The exponential growth, of which I am enormously pleased, in our community’s service learning program as a result of Nan Peterson being able to devote all of her considerable professional energies to service learning at the school, being made possible through the great generosity of the Foundation. I speak for my entire school community when I express our heartfelt gratitude to the Shinnyo-en Foundation for its support and partnership.  I hope the partnership will continue to grow and flourish.

And lastly, what is your personal path to peace?

John: My personal path to peace is to do all I can to lead a community of educators as we recognize the humanity of each of our children and connect them to the larger community that we all share on this planet.

Fantastic, thank you very much!