Doblmeier’s Adventist education documentary debuts at La Sierra
By Darla Martin Tucker
Martin Doblmeier, an award-winning producer of documentaries on religion and spirituality debuted his latest film at La Sierra University on Sept. 1 in a special preview. The work spotlights Seventh-day Adventist education and includes data and insights resulting from La Sierra’s groundbreaking CognitiveGenesis study through the Center for Research on K-12 Adventist Education.
Titled “The Blueprint: The Story of Adventist Education,” the documentary delivers the message that regardless of subcultural differences or school size, Adventist schools building upon the denomination’s holistic education model, or blueprint designed by church visionary Ellen White, produce well-rounded, high-performing students.
The film includes interviews with CognitiveGenesis research director Dr. Elissa Kido as well as with other leaders in Adventist and secular education and research. It tells the stories of several Adventist academies in various parts of the United States highlighting their unique challenges and approaches to teaching. They include the Bronx-Manhattan Seventh-day Adventist School, Holbrook Indian Academy, Columbine Christian School, Oakwood Adventist Academy and Loma Linda Academy.
Jovanna Poor Bear-Adams, vice principal of the Holbrook academy in Arizona talked about her past struggles with self-esteem and feelings that she was less than everyone else because of her skin color and her Native American ancestry. She attended Holbrook as a girl, was baptized, graduated from college then returned to Holbrook with a mission to give what had been given to her. “I found an identity, a self worth here,” she says in the film. “I became myself here.”
Says Evelyn Chavez, a teacher at Bronx-Manhattan SDA school. “We don’t have to teach in a spiritual vacuum. We can answer to basic questions,” such as ‘why was I born, why am I here, where am I going,’” she said.
“What they’re going to get in a SDA school is the idea that they were created by God, therefore they are automatically of great value,” says Philip Williams, chaplain and choir director at Oakwood academy.
Over four years CognitiveGenesis surveyed more than 52,000 students at more than 800 Adventist schools. “In all grades and in all subjects, students in Adventist schools performed above the national average,” said Kido in the documentary.
“They actually got just about everybody to participate [in the survey]. And that’s unique,” said David Lohman, an education professor at the University of Iowa.
An audience of 85 attended the screening of “The Blueprint” at the Troesh Conference Center in La Sierra’s new Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business. Doblmeier’s company, Journey Films, has created more than 25 documentaries that have aired on PBS, ABC, NBC, and The History Channel. Journey Films also produced “The Adventists” and “The Adventists 2,” both of which aired on PBS stations around the country this year.
“The Blueprint: The Story of Adventist Education” will air on PBS next spring with an expected viewing audience of 30-40 million. “I am not an Adventist, as you know, but I am the product of faith-based education my whole life and I could see something special happening in each of the Adventist school classrooms we visited,” Doblmeier said. “And by ‘special’ I mean sacred. I sensed that the teachers took seriously the idea they were teaching God’s children and that can’t help but shape the way you go about your day.”