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.
EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES
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
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
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.
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.
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:
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..
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:
New Family Welcome Letters
Child Safety Policy
Photo Release Form
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
Creating guidelines for Religious Education.
Reviewing all of the previously developed religious education
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.
our First Day School Guidelines for Teachers.
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