The Middle Way School (MWS) in upstate New York’s Hudson Valley, a landmark progressive education initiative inspired by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s vision for a Buddhist education for children founded in wisdom and compassion, announced over the weekend that it is celebrating its successful launch in 2018 and is now opening its doors to prospective students for its second academic year.
The independently operated pilot school, which the supporting Khyentse Foundation has described as the result of years of research, follows a curriculum guided by a framework that is “based on Buddhist teachings and informed by modern neuroscience” and will be run as “a laboratory for creating a truly Buddhist education for children.” (KF Focus)
The MWS will host an open house for prospective parents for on 2 February from 10am to midday, noting that all families interested in attending the school are encouraged to apply, regardless of religious background. “Hudson Valley parents have a new option for schooling their children at the Middle Way School of the Hudson Valley,” the MWS said in a press release.
The school, which officially opened in the town of Saugerties on 7 September last year* with a mixed-age kindergarten and grades 1 and 2 totaling 17 students, plans to add a third grade class in the 2019–20 academic year. Details of the admissions process can be found on the MWS website.
The MWS said a grant from Khyentse Foundation would allow the school to subsidize tuition so that it remains affordable to all families who apply. “Diversity is really important to us,” said MWS executive director Noa Jones. “We don’t want economics to get in the way of education, so we’ll do our best to make sure that tuition doesn’t create any hardship.”
Founded in 2001 by the renowned Bhutanese lama, filmmaker, and writer Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, the Khyentse Foundation is an international nonprofit organization established with the aim of promoting the Buddha’s teaching and supporting all traditions of Buddhist study and practice. The foundation’s activities include major text preservation and translation projects, support for monastic colleges in Asia, a worldwide scholarship and awards program, development of Buddhist studies at major universities, training and development for Buddhist teachers, and Buddhist education for children.
Plans to expand the project are now being explored, including a larger campus to accommodate a K-12 school.
“The Hudson Valley is the ideal location for our pilot school and founding families will have a significant impact on the development of this model,” said Jones. “We have been working closely with Shugen Roshi of Zen Mountain Monastery, and the very kind teachers at KTD, as well as many other centers of practice and study that make this area such a fertile ground for this new model of education to come into being.”
“The inherent intelligence and kindness in children is profound,” said Jones. “I am thrilled to be a part of developing an educational model focusing on cultivating these natural qualities. We are finding the ways Buddhist philosophy breathes life into a modern education.”
The school is described as “the epicenter for Middle Way Education’s research and development of a new reform model of Buddhist education with a comprehensive curriculum and teaching methodology that can be used to create new schools, redefine existing schools, and support children’s programs around the world. Guided by a number of Buddhist teachers and scholars, Middle Way is not tethered to one single Buddhist tradition or path.” (Middle Way School)
Middle Way Education is a non-profit global network established with the vision of creating a new system of education based on Buddhist wisdom and compassion, and drawing on schools, resources, and education projects around the world. The project includes an online hub where Buddhist educators can communicate, share resources, lesson plans, and teaching materials, and learn from and support one another.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche has long championed education reform, viewing education as a fundamental platform for ensuring the survival of the teachings of the Buddha and for creating a better world for all beings, stating: “We are trying to prepare and train some of the next generation of human beings through Buddhist values and Buddha’s teaching of love, compassion, and wisdom. We are also hoping that through training the next generation of Buddhists, the authentic Buddhadharma can continue to flourish and that knowledgeable practitioners of the Dharma will carry on the lineage through their love and support, and study and practice of the teachings. So we are developing a model of education.” (KF Focus)
Born in Bhutan and based in Himachal Pradesh, India, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche gives teachings all over the world. He is the son of Thinley Norbu Rinpoche and was a close student of the Nyimngma master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910–91). He is recognized as the third incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820–92), founder of the Khyentse lineage, and the immediate incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö (1893–1959). In addition to Khyentse Foundation, his projects include 84000, a non-profit global initiative to translate the words of the Buddha and make them available to all; Siddhartha’s Intent, which organizes, distributes, and archives his teachings; Lotus Outreach, which directs a wide range of projects to help refugees; and more recently The Lhomon Society, which promotes sustainable development in Bhutan through education.
* Khyentse Foundation Announces Two New Buddhist Education Initiatives (Buddhistdoor Global)