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 Religious Education 2010

It was another productive and busy year for the Religious Education Committee (REC). We completed many activities and projects. This year we were able to make our new curriculum a reality. We still have a little way to go to pull everything together, but we’re very close to completion. It has been a truly remarkable process.

A total of 65 students participated in our First Day School (FDS) Program this year—32 were regular participants, 23 were occasional participants and 10 were involved with Quaker schools or rarely attend. Meeting provided wonderful support, with 27 individuals volunteering to teach our classes. The support and linking that the adult involvement provides has been the key to the success of our program. Several of the teachers committed themselves to teaching the entire year. However, we appreciate and value the support of all of our instructors. We hope that the work that REC has been doing to enhance our program will inspire even more members/attenders to volunteer to teach and that it will make it easy and enjoyable for them.

We had another successful and delicious FDS Breakfast. About 40 people enjoyed the eggs cooked to order and lots of wonderful dishes made and served by REC members. We also collected cash and food donations for the Lords Panty.

Germantown Friends came to visit our Young Friends Program. They spent the morning meeting with the Young Friends and the teachers sharing their experiences here at Meeting.

Twice this year, the Young Friends and Middle Schoolers enjoyed visits by John Watts, a Quaker singer/ song writer who has been inspired by many historical Quaker figures. He shared his songs and his spiritual journey with our students during this visits, and we used his musical CD’s throughout the year in class sessions. Jon also performed at Opening Exercises for Meeting on one of his visits.

Business Meeting Childcare has continued to raise issues for Religious Education and falls on the shoulders of the REC members. We put a new system was put in place in which parents must sign up by the Thursday before Meeting for Business if they wish childcare during it. So far, this system seems to be working well. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of volunteer childcaregivers. In the future, we’d appreciate greater participation from the Meeting community, so we can continue to offer this service to parents with young children.

The Nativity Play occurred again this year. The Young Friends helped to coordinate the event and will continue to do this in the future. Music, performed by the children, augmented the play this year and will also occur for future performances. It was a great success. The children also made decorations for the outdoor Christmas tree. Most were natural and/or were food for the animals.

FDS students also continued to make goodies to be served at the Christmas program reception. Everyone enjoyed the chocolate covered pretzels, brownies, and lemon bars.

We also documented the experience that a father and daughter from our Meeting had at the March on Washington with Martin Luther King Jr. We plan to use the filmed interview in our First Day School classes.

Instead of having the Alternative Gift Market at Meeting this year, the shopping event occurred at the store. This was much more lucrative than last year and much easier for REC members. We intend to do this again next year. We earned a profit of $200.14 which was 15 percent all sales for the evening.

One of our members, who works with plants, initiated a heirloom bulb sale, held during our annual Friends Fall Festival, and donated half of the $400 in proceeds to the Religious Education Young Friends Service Project.

Gift Card Project
Once again, the children of Meeting made beautiful art work, which we converted into greeting cards. We sold 640 cards this year grossing $640. One of our Young Friends scanned all of the original artwork, then another of our Meeting members electronically made them into the cards to be printed. Afterwards, the Young Friends sorted and packaged the orders. The money we earned from this project went towards the Young Friends Service Project Trip.

Book Sale
One of our longtime members generously held a sale of her personal collection of childrens’ books for the Young Friends Service Project Trip, from which she raised and donated $500 to the cause.

Valentines Project
The FDS children created about 80 Valentine cards over two weeks for Meeting members living locally and abroad. Many of the recipients gave them positive and grateful feedback.

Service Projects for Lord’s Pantry
For the second year in a row, 15 adult and child volunteers from our Meeting helped load, sort, and stock the food items at the Lord’s Pantry during the Downingtown US Postal Service Food Drive. The REC started this event so that families could participate together on a service project. And during the holidays the students filled holiday mugs with candy and donated them to the Lords Pantry.

FDS children filled aid bags with personal hygiene supplies for the earthquake victims of Chili and Haiti.

One of the most significant areas we’ve been addressing is the curriculum. We have reviewed the entire pre-existing curriculum and cataloged it. Now we’ve reshaped into a 2-3 year plan for the FDS classes from pre-k through middle school. The current layout for each year of classes is as follows:

    Fall                     Winter                    Spring

Quakerism            Self & Others                Bible

Each year the material will vary and the material will be cumulative. We’ve identified all of the pre-existing material for all of the grades and put it into this format and will create new material as needed. We still have much to do to finalize the curriculum for FDS. All of the members or the REC are working on the development of the lesson plans for each grade and subject. We hope to have the entire curriculum developed by the close of this FDS year.

In addition, we’ve established Guidelines for Religious Education to provide insight to the teachers on what Quakers believe and to help guide them in the classroom. We shared this document with Meeting and met the glowing approval of Business Meeting in July.

The Godly Play training occurred on March 8, 2008. Ten participants attended the day-long training session. The presenters were excellent and provided a very sound base for the group to proceed with the implementation of Godly Play, planned for five times a year. It will always happen on the first day of the term, as new teacher orientation will happen at that time as well. These Godly Play sessions will correspond with the category being taught for each term. In addition there will be a Nativity and an Easter related Godly Play session. Our ten trained participants will do the Godly Play presentations.

We’ve developed critical understandings and assessments for each class. Goals have been established and a form developed that teachers will complete at the end of the term. These forms will provide feedback from the teachers and will assist the REC to determine if they have met the criteria and if changes need to be made.

Only four class curriculums need to be completed to finish the entire FDS curriculum. We’ve set a deadline of July 15th for its completion. Once this is accomplished, we need to catalog the remaining books and turn them over to the Library. Additionally, we plan to review all unused curriculum materials and will archive those that we deem worthwhile. All lesson plans have been entered into a database. We still have to created master files for all supplementary curriculum material. Eventually, we’ll scan all of that material and store it electronically..

Teacher Manuals

The REC has created teacher manuals for each classroom. They’re used for teacher orientations which occur for all new teachers at the beginning of each term. We’ll be keeping a copy of the manual, containing the following documents, in each classroom:

Mission Statement
Teacher Notes
FDS Calendar
Attendance Sheets
New Family Welcome Letters
Child Safety Policy
FDS Roster/census
Photo Release Form
Teacher Guidelines
Critical Understandings and Assessments
End of Term Feedback/ Evaluation Form

Major projects that the committee has embarked upon in the last several years include the following:

Creating guidelines for Religious Education.
Reviewing all of the previously developed religious education curriculum.
The development of a new curriculum.
Instituting the Child Safety Policy and a parental permission for the use of
photographs for all of Meeting’s children.
The creation of curriculum goals and objectives for each class. 
Creation of a feedback/evaluation form.
The development of a lesson plan form.
Initiating Godly Play.
The development of a teacher manual and an orientation for teachers.

We’re blessed to have such wonderful and enthusiastic children and adult volunteers in the First Day School program. They make it the thriving program that it is today.

Download our First Day School Guidelines for Teachers.

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