What fun we are having in Sunday School?

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What fun we are having in Sunday School! Last week, on October 29th, we completed Unit One of our curriculum. By all accounts the first session was a success. The curriculum is what we expected and wanted. It is a logical, sequential and consistent Episcopal curriculum.

The content focuses on four areas:

Old Testament, New Testament, Sacraments and Church. In the Pre K /K room we focused on Creation, Primary’s lesson were about Pentateuch and Intermediates learned about Covenants. It seems the children enjoyed what they learned and how they learned, and the teachers were energized. The addition of a separate Children’s Chapel for communion has been a true blessing. Having all ages share communion and participate in worship together is a wonderful experience.

In addition to our regular Sunday School program we have added monthly Wednesday evening activities with Father Bill. In October we celebrated Saint Francis Day with the blessing of live and stuffed animals and a wonderful service in the Payne Memorial Garden. Young and old enjoyed the ceremony. On November1st Father Bill led an All Saints Day event (see the pictures in the center pages). The children participate in All Saints Sunday on November 5th for our family worship service.

Session Two runs from November 12th through February 4th, with three Family Worship Sundays included. Pre K /K children will focus on Jesus, Son of God, again with Sara Cooney and me as their lead teachers. Melissa Robinson will lead the Primary children and they will talk about Jesus the Healer. Thank you Monika for giving your time and energy for the past nine weeks! Mark Robinson will take over for Kip Powers- Thanks to you Kip for your wonderful leadership- and teach the Intermediates about Miracles.

Of course Advent and Epiphany are included in the lessons. Rick and Carolyn Moses have agreed to stay in the Toddler room until January. Many thanks go to the Moses for guiding this energetic bunch. Also during Session Two we can look forward to a Saint Nicholas party on December 6th and an Epiphany Party on January 3rd. Thank you, thank you, Eugenie Taylor and Father Bill for organizing these events.

A special thanks goes to the substitute teachers too, who cover the gaps when the regular teachers are unavailable. Thank you to Lisa Sayre, Sydney Seigrist and Kelly McGhee. Rick Moses moved from a substitute to a lead teacher. Again, thanks Rick!

There is certainly room for improvement and we plan to continue to grow and develop. The input of parishioners, parents and children is welcome and encouraged. As always, more volunteers are welcomed and needed too. Please contact me if you have any feedback or want to help!

God bless Saint Matthews Church for recognizing the children and putting them at the center of our focus.

Our Growing Sunday School Needs Your Help – October issue of The Messenger

We are approaching our fourth week of Sunday School and, we are having a great time learning about God’s gifts to us. The Sunday School committee set some specific goals for our program and we feel that we are in line to meet them. I am so delighted to see more and more smiling (for the most part) faces entering our cheery rooms. Our curriculum seems to be working very well, our rooms look great and our teachers are motivated. There is only one problem…. We are growing fast and we need more teachers to keep up with our growing census! We need your help!

So far our census looks like this:
Infant – 1
Toddler – 6
PreK- Kindergarten – 20
Primary – 15
Intermediate- 10
That is a lot of kids and we have new families trying us out all the time.

Kip Power and Mark Robinson are rotating 9 week sessions to teach the 4th-6th grade Intermediates, Monika Hussell and Melissa Robinson are rotating 9 week sessions to teach the 1st-3rd grade Primary class. I have moved from the Toddler room to the full, fun and active Pre-K/Kindergarten room along with Sara Cooney. We feel that 3-6 year old room needs two hands-on teachers. We have two paid staff in the nursery, so we don’t need help there. But, our wonderful, eager toddlers are left without a regular teacher. We are currently counting on the rotating volunteers to care for these toddlers.

If anyone is interested and willing to be the lead teacher in this room, we would be so very grateful…. as would the toddlers.

If we cannot identify a lead teacher we would like for everyone to consider taking a short rotation. Would you please sign up to teach in the Toddler room for one or more of the following sessions????:
Toddler Unit Two: October 1st, 8th, 15th
Toddler Unit Three: October 22nd & 29th and November 12th & 19th
Toddler Unit Four: December 3rd & 10th and Jan. 7th &13th
Toddler Unit Five: January 21st & 28th and February 4th & 11th
Toddler Unit Six: February 18th & 25th and March 4th & 11th
Toddler Unit Seven: March 18th & 25th and April 1st & 15th
Toddler Unit Eight: April 22nd & 29th and May 6th
Toddler Unit Nine: May 13th & 20th and June 3rd

If we cannot encourage parents and parishioners to assist with the Toddlers, we will have to look for funding to hire a service to keep a consistent adult in this room.

Please do not hesitate in signing up for this great opportunity to share your love and your love of God with these young people. I will provide an easy schedule for you to follow and, like me you do not have to be a life long teacher nor an expert in Episcopalian theory. You will have the rewarding experience of introducing these toddlers to the faith you treasure. It is a great way to renew your faith.

We are very grateful with the success we have had with our program and we look forward to many of you joining our fun and exciting endeavor. Please contact me, Mary Cook, at 345-0047 or gregmarycook@charter.net.

Thank you.

The First Day of Sunday School – September issue of The Messenger

I want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to making our first day of Sunday School on August 27th a great success! We had lots of positive feedback on the beautiful, clean, bright rooms and all the hard work that was put into that project instantly paid off. The first room at the bottom of the stairs is now the nursery. It has new carpet, paint and curtains and is a wonderful environment for Joycelyn Kyte and Mary Nelson who nurture our infants and prepare them for the years ahead. As you walk down the hall you see a green Toddler room for the 2 and 3 year olds, a blue Preschool and Kindergarten room for 3ish through Kindergarten, an orange Primary room for the 1st through 3rd graders and a yellow Intermediate room for the 4th through 6th graders. All the rooms look wonderful. Thanks to everyone who helped bring the Sunday School area to life…the leaders: Pat Bibbee, Laura Pray, Sharon Strand, Cathy Kreiger, Sara Cooney and all the cleaners, the painters, the sewers, the organizers… it all makes a great difference.

The other big change is in our curriculum and we got a great start on that our first day of school. Our program is divided into 4 nine-week sessions, and most classes have teachers rotating every nine weeks. Our Unit One teachers are Kip Power, Monika Hussell, Sara Cooney and me. Mark Robinson, the other Intermediate teacher, joined his class for the first day, and the room was full of eager 4th-6th graders. After school we had to re-arrange Monika’s Primary room to accommodate all the new learners in that room. The big crowd, however, was in the Preschool & Kindergarten classroom. Sara Cooney taught 13 little ones and, though we only had 8 registered, we were prepared for the crowd! We were amazed at how quiet and attentive those youngsters were. Good work, Sara. The toddlers’ assistant for Sunday, Eugenie Taylor, had to lend a hand in that room which was fine because our five little toddlers were so, so good.

We had a long train of almost 40 kids head up to communion to partake in the Holy Eucharist in our new “children’s chapel” off the activity room. It was so fulfilling so see our youth worship together.

I was thrilled with our first day and owe a debt of gratitude to all the teachers, workers and supporters for getting us off to a great start. While still reeling from the excitement, I thought about the goals the Sunday School committee established months ago and wondered how we were doing in meeting those:
1. Parents need to be involved in Christian education and encouraged to support the Sunday School program.
2. Saint Matthews will provide an exciting, attractive Sunday School program that draws kids to us.
3. Sunday School should be educational with a solid curriculum designed to meet specific goals.
4. Teachers are well prepared, well supported and enthusiastic.
5. Sunday School is connected to the Church and the congregation is supportive of it and the youth.
6. Address the Infant to 2 year issue and determine how we organize and educate that group.

I realize that we only have the first day behind us, but I think we are steering ourselves to meet these substantial goals. With the continued effort of teachers, and the support of our parents and the congregation, I am sure we will be successful.

I would be remiss if I did not say a special thank you to Larry Sheers. How would we have transformed our school rooms without Larry? He was invaluable. Thank you Larry!

Finally, we do need more teachers! I would like to have two more teachers who will take one or two nine-week rotations in the Toddler and Pre-School/Kindergarten rooms. That will allow Sara Cooney and me to have a break…. and keep us fresh! If you are remotely interested, please let me know.

Thank you Saint Matthews. Our Sunday School program is building on the past and looking to the future.

Sunday School Report – August issue of The Messenger

On August 27th Saint Matthews will begin a very exciting Sunday School program for the 2006-07 school year. You will notice several changes this year and one will be obvious when you descend the stairs into a freshly and brightly painted Sunday School area. Laura Pray and her group of dedicated painters are busy adding color and cheer to the rooms. Pat Bibbee’s expert advice has been invaluable as we set out to spruce up our children’s space.

Our efforts don’t stop at the basement. We have also claimed the current storage room as our “children’s chapel” area where the Eucharist will now be celebrated by our youth. In past years we have met in the activity room, but we wanted to carve out a more special, quiet place for this important part of our program. Thanks to Father Bill and Larry Shears, the room has been emptied and will be painted and have new lighting. We think this will be a positive change for all of us.

Our curriculum has changed too. Over the past several months a committee representing our teachers, parents and congregation has worked diligently to create an exceptional program for our youth. Our goal is to provide an intentional Episcopal curriculum in a loving environment, and to help your child nurture a relationship with God and Jesus Christ that will last a lifetime and beyond.

We selected a curriculum developed by Virginia Theological Seminary called Episcopal Children’s Curriculum (ECC). ECC is designed to enrich the spiritual lives of children, using imaginative storytelling and the richness of Episcopal liturgy and tradition. It is developed to support and strengthen the ministry of teaching in congregations. Scripture provides the primary basis for the curriculum. Children are introduced to the Holy Bible, The Book of Common Prayer and the Hymnal 1982, with appropriate material from these sources incorporated into nearly every session. Children are encouraged to learn words and actions for participation in worship and liturgy. The curriculum is seasonally compatible with the Sunday Lectionary, but is not based on week by week readings. The units are connected to the liturgical church year, with special attention to major feasts.

[read the review on How a 13 year old changed ‘Impossible’ to ‘I’m Possible’ | Sparsh Shah]

The curriculum is designed to take a child from 3 years old for the next nine years until the end of Grade 6. A total of 9 years’ worth of material is provided – three years at each of the following levels: Preschool/Kindergarten (3 yrs. to Kindergarten), Primary (1st -3rd grade) and Intermediate (4th-6th grade). The content of the ECC focuses on four areas: Old Testament, New Testament, Sacraments and Church. Each of these sessions is covered in 9 weeks, totaling 36 sessions per year. The conceptual organization is intended to be logical, sequential and consistent over the scope of the curriculum.

In addition to our Sunday curriculum, we have added 7 Special Events to celebrate days that our special to our church, such as; Saint Francis Day, All Saints Day, Holy Week, etc. Stay tuned for these events, which will usually happen on the first Wednesday of the month, in the afternoon or evening.
These plans are very exciting, but we certainly need your help to make the work. Parents, please register your children early! Registration has started and we want to have it completed by August 15th. Please contact me at 345-0047 or gregmarycook@charter.net. We will have registration forms available after church, but please be proactive and register your children so we know how many to count on.

We will also need your help in other ways. Throughout the year we will want your time and financial support to keep our program strong. Do not hesitate to come forward to offer your services and you can expect we will be asking, as well.

Finally, I want to thank those who are dedicating their time and hearts to help our children on their journey.

Thanks to Sara Cooney, Monika Hussell, Melissa Robinson, Kip Power and Mark Robinson for their roles as lead teachers. Thanks to Lisa Sayre, Kelly McGhee and Rick Moses for their roles as substitute teachers and thanks to Mary Green, Christie Goldman and Amy Mullen for volunteering as assistants. I would certainly like to see the list grow.

God bless you and thank you.

Sunday School Committee Meeting- May 25th, 2006

The Sunday School Committee met on May 25th and made excellent progress in the one hour meeting. In attendance were Dave Rubrecht, Rick Moses, Susan Shumate, Kelly McGee, Sara Cooney, Monika Hussell, Mark Robinson, Father Bill Thomas and me.

The purpose of the meeting was, primarily, to review and possibly select a Sunday School curriculum for the 2006-2007 school year. A curriculum subcommittee of Sara Cooney, Rick Moses, Kelly McGee, Monika Hussell and me was created last month. Since we last met members of the subcommittee have reviewed some curriculum choices.

In selecting a curriculum, we judged those options we reviewed against the key findings from our original meeting to ensure we picked a program that most closely meets our current and future needs. The key findings are:

Key Findings for 2006-2007 Sunday School

1. Parents need to be involved in Christian education and encouraged to support the Sunday School program.
2. Saint Matthews will provide an exciting, attractive Sunday School program that draws kids to us.
3. Sunday School should be educational, Episcopalian, and with a solid curriculum designed to meet specific goals.
4. Teachers are well prepared, well supported and enthusiastic.
5. Sunday School is connected to the Church and the congregation is supportive of it and the youth.
6. Address the Infant to 2 year issue and determine how we organize and educate that group.

The “subcommittee” narrowed the selection down to one option for the entire committee to review and we chose the Episcopal Children’s Curriculum (ECC). ECC is designed to enrich the spiritual lives of children, using imaginative storytelling and the richness of Episcopal liturgy and tradition. The aim of ECC is to support and strengthen the ministry of teaching in congregations. ECC sets forth a framework for helping our children interpret and understand the covenant made in Holy Baptism and to live the Christian life. Learners are introduced to the Holy Bible, The Book of Common Prayer and the Hymnal 1982, with appropriate material from these sources incorporated into nearly every session. Children are encouraged to learn words and actions for participation in worship and liturgy. It is designed to be specifically Episcopalian. The curriculum is seasonally compatible with the Sunday Lectionary, but is not based on week by week readings. The units are connected to the liturgical church year, with special attention to major feasts.

The curriculum is designed to take a learner from 3 years old for the next NINE YEARS until the end of Grade 6. A total of 9 years’ worth of material will be provided – three years at each of these levels: Preschool/Kindergarten (3yo to 5/6yo), Primary(1st -3rd grade) and Intermediate(4th-6th grade). The content of the ECC focuses on four areas: Old Testament, New Testament, Sacraments and Church. There are 9 sessions covering the four areas, totaling in 36 sessions per year. The conceptual organization is intended to be logical, sequential and consistent over the scope of the curriculum. Themes will be revisited and content will be re-examined with a minimum of duplication of materials. You can go to www.livingthegoodnews.com/ecc.htm to learn more.

It is hoped that teachers who use ECC will be nurtured, inspired and enriched personally as they prepare to teach and learn.

Parents are informed of content and take home cards are incorporated into every session.

The committee reviewed information provided by ECC and evaluated it against the key findings. The group unanimously voted to select the ECC curriculum. The group was excited by the possibilities and liked that the curriculum is Episcopal-based and will provide a consistent and goal oriented program that will engage teachers, parents and learners.

The suggestion was made that we make a serious effort to educate our parents and our congregation about what is happening in Sunday School so that everyone is aware of our lessons and projects, perhaps encouraging others to get involved. It was also suggested that we are very careful about making any ceremonial changes within that church that may be upsetting to many parishioners who are comfortable with the current traditions (ie, bringing in incense as a means of teaching children about all traditions). The comment was well received and everyone agreed.

Our next steps with regard to the curriculum are: 1) to order the appropriate material and 2) to lay out a calendar for lessons. Sarah Cooney offered to work with me and Father Bill to initiate this process.

OTHER BUSINESS
On other business, I reported that the Infant to 2/3 subcommittee is working to determine how we will organize that age group for next year. The subcommittee will meet on June 11 and will report to us following that. They have determined that our plan for the summer is: 1) Parents can volunteer to stay in Mathes Hall, rotating through the regular Sunday School dates (leaving the 1st Sunday as Family Worship) and parents may leave their 3 and unders with them for some very limited teaching and more play time or 2) they can take their 3 and unders to the nursery where Jocelyn and Mary have agreed to watch them or 3) take their children to church. Mary Green has offered to “teach” on June 11, which marks the start of that program, and she will be signing up volunteers. I will take June 18th.

We created a new committee, which for now is called the Physical Improvement Committee. Pat Bibbee will chair that and Sarah Cooney volunteered to be on the committee. Others on the committee or within the parish who want to volunteer, please see Pat.

We are blessed to have a hard working, diligent committee who is focused on bringing the best to our children, and I am grateful to be able to work with them. Thank you for your time and care.

Sunday School Committee Meeting- April 26th, 2006

The Sunday School Committee met for the first time on April 26th, and we had a very productive and energetic meeting. A group of fifteen representing parents, teachers and interested congregation members spent an hour talking about our thoughts and ideas for our Sunday School program next year. While several members were not available to meet, those in attendance were: Rick Moses, Kelly McGhee, Carol Ford, Betsy Trammell, Dave Rubrecht, Michele Mansfield, Monika Hussell, Susan Schumate, Mark Robinson, Eugenie Taylor, Mary Green, Elizabeth Smith, Cathy Kreiger, Sara Cooney, Father Bill and me.

Father Bill opened the meeting with and prayer and discussed many of the resources that are available to us to help with our plans for Sunday School. He encouraged us to use the extensive technology available to us through the media room and showed an example of how technology can enhance learning, and he explained it can be a bridge in intergenerational groups with the older kids using media to film and publish events and activities as the younger groups participate. He also gave a plug for the Vacation Bible School that is planned for this summer.

For most of the remainder of the meeting, the group talked candidly and thoughtfully about our ideas for Sunday School next year. We want to build on the program that we have created. I asked everyone, “What Do You Think is the Most Important Thing We Can Accomplish in Sunday School in 2006-2007?” A number after the comment represents the number of people who thought that was the most important idea, too. Here is what the group said:

  1. Parents need to support their kids and get them to Sunday School.
  2. That kids want to come every Sunday. (4)
  3. We need to set behavior standards and expectations for kids. We need to have rules and guidelines and parental involvement in supporting rules. (2) We need to extend this to church as well as Sunday School.
  4. Find out what the secret to “Awannas” and what we can do to get the kids “on fire”
  5. We should have a thriving, learning centered Sunday School and not a baby sitting service. (4) We need a curriculum that is challenging, the teachers need to be educated, the materials need to be distributed early and as a group Sunday School teachers need to discuss the material and plan for the classes.
  6. As a parent, know what the kids are doing in Sunday School and help us reinforce that at home.
  7. Sunday School needs to be about feeling loved and nurtured.
  8. We need the engagement and participation of congregation members in Sunday School and our activities. Bring parishioners in to get to know the kids and have a better interaction between the church and Sunday School.
  9. The physical setting- a cold, moldy, sterile basement- is not a good setting for Sunday School. The Sunday School area is not decorated well. The walls, tables, room set ups etc. are not conducive to learning.
  10. The parents need to be supportive and “on fire.”
  11. We want full Sunday School rooms
  12. The craft should support the curriculum, but is not the reason we are there.
  13. Reintroduce music to Sunday School
  14. Make Eucharist more special. Translate for the kids and explain what we are doing and why.
  15. The congregation needs to be more supportive of kids in the church when they are there. If someone is bothered by the noise they should attend 8:00 service.

Because we committed to sticking to our agenda and the time we set for each item, we cut off discussion and encouraged anyone with more ideas to get them to me and they will be incorporated.

Monika Hussell then explained the concept of Intentional Curriculum and suggested we should try to incorporate it next year. Intentional Curriculum means we set goals for learning in each age group and build that into our program. For instance, we may want a child to know the Lord’s Prayer when they leave the Kindergarten room, or know the Miracles after 1st grade. We may want the kids to know what it is to be an Episcopalian by a certain age, etc. We then discussed this and talked about goals for age groups. These were the outcomes of that discussion:

  • -We need to determine the curriculum early and have some discipline in using it.
  • -It needs to be “idiot” proof for teachers.
  • -Teachers need to be trained in using it.
  • -We can combine lectionary and theme based programs. All the theme based programs will have lectionary in them.
  • -We should set goals for each class.
  • -When we develop curriculum, get parents’ input as to what will work, especially with the younger kids.

Our last agenda item was to determine our next steps. We agreed that a smaller group needs to review the information from this meeting and figure out what action can be taken. As a group we decided to set up two smaller working groups: the Curriculum Committee to study available curriculum and resources and come to the larger group with a suggestion; Infant to 2 years because the curriculum does not address them and we have some opportunities to join resources between the nursery and 2-3 year room. The committees are:

Curriculum Committee – Mary Cook, chair

Sara Cooney, Rick Moses, Kelly McGhee, Monika Hussell,

Susan Schumate, Cathy Kreiger

Infant to 2 years – Mary Green

Mary Cook, Eugenie Taylor, Christie Goldman (in her absence).

We did not set a meeting date, but agreed that the sub committees would need to meet quickly and report to the whole committee before the end of May. We agreed we can communicate by email as well.

On a personal note, it felt very positive to have a cross section of our church community discussing the Christian education of our youth. There was great energy by teachers and others to build on the program that we have created and make it an even more vibrant, engaging, loving and educational environment for our youth. I want to thank everyone who participated for taking the time to share your time and energy on our Sunday School program.

If anyone feels moved to participate in any way with Sunday School, we welcome your time, resources, talents, thoughts or advice. With all of us working together, we can make our program the best.

Mary Cook—345-0047 gregmarycook@charter.net

Bishop Klusmeyer’s Visit For Saint Matthews Sunday School – March 25, 2006

Submitted by, Mary Cook
345-0047—gregmarycook@charter.net

“The kids and Sunday School should be our #1 priority in decision making, starting with funding” explained Ann Brotherton on a snowy Saturday morning meeting with Bishop Klusmeyer. The rest of the room nodded in agreement. Bishop Klusmeyer, Father Bill and Senior Warden Monika Hussell hosted a meeting on March 25th, 2006 to talk about the importance of Sunday School at Saint Matthews. An intimate but passionate group of eight discussed our Sunday School program, historically, currently and futuristically.

The two hour gathering was centered on two questions posed by the Bishop: “What do you want our Sunday School to look like?” and “What is God’s will for our youth education?” Without reservation the group agreed that we need to make sure that children are one of our primary priorities at Saint Matthews, and as part of that priority, make sure that our Sunday School space and curriculum is designed for them. Sunday School should be fun, attractive and relevant, and have a focus on building a relationship with God. We want a vibrant, family oriented program with energy and excitement in the quest to learn what it is to become an Episcopalian. It was clear, we felt, that the best way to achieve this is to have loving, passionate professors (teachers) who are committed to guiding and empowering the youth to know and spread God’s word. We want to connect with the kids, have them connect with their church community and carry forth at home and in their lives outside of church those lessons and concepts they discussed at Sunday School.

As a group we agreed that this is what we have been doing, but we can do even more. There was energy in the room to build on our program to make it even better. We discussed our next steps and agreed on three items of action:

  • We will form a Sunday School committee to plan out next year’s Sunday School program.
  • We will make the Sunday School rooms more attractive and inviting for our youth.
  • We will plan a Vacation Bible School for this summer.

Ambitious? Yes! Achievable? No doubt (with God’s help)!

What is Your Role in Sunday School?

Hopefully some of you are wondering how this is relevant to you or how you can become involved. If you are interested in our youth or you have a gift or talent that you can lend to Sunday School, then we want you to be involved. The Sunday School committee will include teachers, parents, vestry members and other parishioners. Some of you have already been contacted to participate. If you want to serve on the committee and you have not been asked yet, please contact me. (contact information below) We will have our first meeting in April and will probably meet monthly until the middle of the summer and quarterly thereafter. If you want to help with spruce up the Sunday School area, contact Father Bill. If you want to help with Vacation Bible School contact Eugenie Taylor at 343-0528 (ept@eugenietaylor.com).

It was very inspiring to our little group to have Bishop Klusmeyer and Father Bill spend a few hours focused on our Sunday School program. We are energized to continue to move forward in providing Christian education to our youth. Our Sunday School program is important to all of us and we want everyone to be involved, so come forth and share your talents!

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