The Karate Kids…
The School of the Way was founded by John Patrick Starling in late November of 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland and Co-Founded by Anissa Cadar, who coached Teacher John through the hard work that resulted founding of the school and to this day coaches students in achieving what's important to them.
A year earlier, Teacher John started a mentoring program in his Baltimore neighborhood (Hampden), called Life Plan: How to get what you want out of life. He taught the class to a number of kids from the neighborhood in the conference room of the office building where he ran his consulting firm.
In the classes, he worked with students to help them set goals for themselves and then taught them the same basic achievement model that he had learned and used to coach executives for many years prior:
-Declare what it is you seek to have.
-Understand what you must Do in order to achieve your goals and “just Do it.”
-And when you are not “Doing it,” be in an inquiry into whom you are Being in relation to your goals and what choices you are making—and make a different set of choices.
Said another way: BE. DO. HAVE.
The “Life Plan” classes caught on but didn't catch fire.
Meanwhile, young people from the neighborhood were often asking “Mr. John” to teach them martial arts. Thinking that enrollment in a Life Plan would be higher if he combined the program with the martial arts, he made five potential students an offer one evening in the study of his home:
“If you want to learn how not to get your ass kicked in front of your friends at the mall, then I’m not your teacher. Go earn some money, find a school and pay for your belts. But if you want to learn to live the life of the martial artist and to learn and live by the Code that we live our lives by—and you are willing to develop a Life Plan and work that plan with the help of a mentor—and you are willing to stand up for your community by doing community service projects...I’ll teach you for free.”
They agreed, being warned that “It’s a yes or no question.” They worked out in Teacher John’s garden the next evening. It was a Thursday. On Friday he called a few business leaders and raised some money for equipment. On the advice of community activist George Peters, on Friday afternoon John met Todd Clary, then Director of The Roosevelt Recreation Center in Hampden and Todd gave the group use of the Auditorium of The Roosevelet Recreation Center.
Monday night (just four days later) the dojo opened. Soon other Teachers and students joined. The rest is still unfolding and the stories worth telling are about people breaking through and becoming unstoppable in their stand for their goals, their communities and their lives.