Congratulations to the 12 finalists of the Innovation in Catholic Education awards. Here are the finalists in the “Total Community Involvement” category, along with a bit about their program areas.
Christ the King School, Atlanta, Georgia
“CKS Serves Program”
CKS Serves grew out of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy as we were called to open our hearts and be the face of mercy in our world. In order to embrace this calling at school, at home, and in our community, we developed a specific Year of Mercy Program to encourage our students and families to “be merciful like the Father” through service projects in the greater Atlanta area.
The program was organized around the Corporal Works of Mercy. Each month of the Year of Mercy, we provided a guide on living out a specific Corporal Work of Mercy that included opportunities to serve the community that were organized and led by CKS Serves, ideas for families to serve on their own, and a specific prayer to say with the family.
The program was very successful with broad participation by families in all grades each month. Through the Year of Mercy our school community brought food and clothing to Atlanta’s homeless under bridges, made sandwiches and snack bags for the hungry, donated and decorated soup and made cards for the imprisoned, held a memorial run to honor our loved ones and raised money for indigent funerals, created a First Communion Closet for families that do not have access to traditional attire, made sleeping mats for the homeless out of grocery bags, visited the sick at a hospice center, and much more.
St. Laurence School, Sugar Land, Texas
“Professional Learning Communities and +Works (Positive Works)”
The formation of Professional Learning Communities (PLC) in our school makes it easy for faculty and staff collaborate and learn from each other, meeting with other Catholic schools in our cluster and archdiocesan committees, creating a professional collaboration webpage, where faculty and staff can share resources, and discuss their learning in faculty meetings; committees of teachers, administrators, school board members, parishioners, and parents, helps the leadership of the school formulate ideas and objectives in the strategic planning process.
+Works (pronounced Positive Works), a Houston-based, parent-driven, nonprofit organization serving as a catalyst for positive community change on bullying and other trending community concerns, announced St. Laurence Catholic School in Sugar Land, Texas as the thirteenth school community to join the +Works program and the first to adopt the organization’s new UNBOUND program offering, which offers school communities the opportunity to join the +Works program at no charge and with no time commitment.
In serving as volunteers, members of the community get to know the school and develop an awareness of the students and parents, as well as the school’s desire to provide the best learning environment for students. In turn, these community partners support the school and help to provide resources that enhance learning and strengthen teachers’ abilities to serve the students. By communicating with parents and community, partnerships that will support the school’s life-long learning endeavors are being molded.
St. John Paul II Academy, Dorchester, Massacusetts
“Building a 21st-Century Playground”
Three school buildings underwent major renovations since 2008, but no upgrades were made to the crumbling playgrounds, despite the Academy’s appreciation that “play” is a critical component of school.
In 2016, the Academy brought together a diverse coalition of investors and volunteers to builda 21st century playground on the Lower Mills campus. Donations came in the form of cash, building materials, gardening supplies, free meals from local supermarkets, and most importatantly, much blood, sweat, and tears. Volunteers came from local corporations and small businesses, and also included Academy administrators, local parishioners, and parents of both students and teachers.
The playground went up in one long, hot day in June 2016.