A Message from Marlene
Last night I was privileged to present the Lester Bayer Award at the “Look How We’ve Grown” event at Astoria Lutheran School. The year-end presentation showcased the work of the children in various formats, from performance to presentations or reports generated from their project based learning units. My favorite part of the evening was listening to the grade school sing several of the songs which they’d learned in Chapel during the year. If you can imagine a chorus of angels, that’s what I heard (of course, some of the teachers might dispute that moniker!) This school is an amazing place for children. Among this diverse student body, 18 different languages are spoken, a wide variety of religious beliefs and backgrounds are represented, and many faced difficult challenges in their lives. It made my heart glad to be able to recognize this school, not only for their amazing program, but for the positive impact they are making in the lives of their students and families.
The event made me think of a quote from noted Lutheran theologian Martin Marty. He wrote, “In many ways a society where religion is not an official establishment, it is everywhere and nowhere. For those reasons, among others, it is often apparently shadowed and in need of being brought to light.”
Reflecting upon last night’s presentations I can say without a doubt that the church was brought to light. In that small community, both parents and children knew that they were important and genuinely loved. Pastor and principal stood side by side in ministry, teachers applauded their children with pride, and students, from the youngest to the oldest, cheered on one another.
As we continue to live in a world where racial tensions are constant and the threat and fear of terrorism is very real, the church provides a light to children and families through its schools. Last night, the children and families, and their church and school were one, not divided by the color of their skin or by the languages that they spoke. They were one in the love of Christ.
One of the goals of CUEM is to assist our urban Lutheran and other faith-based schools, to survive and thrive. It is moments like last night which reinforce just how important that mission continues to be. The church is visible through its schools, and can fortify a student to handle the challenges of city living.
As we head into summer, I urge us all to remember our teachers, students and families. I encourage those of you with schools to celebrate how they bring Christ into the world. And I wish you all a refreshing and renewing summer.
Astoria Lutheran School Receives the 2017 Lester R. Bayer Award for Excellence in Urban Education
The 2017 Lester R. Bayer Award for Excellence in Urban Education was presented to Astoria Lutheran School on June 8, 2017. Accepting the Award was Mrs. Mary Leake, Principal and the Rev. James Klockau, Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church.
Granting recognition to those highly successful in operating innovative and effective urban education programs allows the Center for Urban Education Ministries to honor outstanding programs and people. Astoria Lutheran School uses a blend of technology and face-to-face teaching to allow students to reach their God-given potential.
The mission of Astoria Lutheran School is to nurture in students a love of learning and faith in God, and to equip them to meet the challenges of the 21st Century with confidence, integrity, and a respect for others. Students are encouraged to meet the New York State Common Core Learning Standards, but they do it in creative ways using innovative programs and instructional strategies that foster intellectual, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual development. Astoria provides a caring, safe, Christian environment that encourages risk-taking for successful and joyful learning, respect for self and others, responsible behavior, compassion, and church and community participation.
Each week, students work in multi-age groups to investigate an aspect of a chosen topic or theme that provides an opportunity for students to apply learned concepts from a variety of content areas. Project-based learning, or “theme”, as the students call it, is the focal point and most anticipated day of the week. The school’s garden/outdoor classroom has, and continues to be, at the center of the multi-age, project-based studies, allowing students the hands-on opportunity to learn from and connect with nature.
The Center was proud to present this award to this fine group of students and teachers with wishes for continued blessings. The award includes a $1000 cash prize to be used as the school determines. Applications for next year’s recipient will be accepted beginning in September. More information is available at centerforurbaned.org.
CUEM is excited about conversations taking place with California Lutheran University and Concordia College New York around the establishment of Urban Innovation Institutes.The Institutes will provide opportunities for professional development, think-tank development and dialogue around issues in urban education. They will have two foci. One focus will be to target educators and administrators in faith-based schools to assist them with cutting edge ideas and pedagogy. The second focus will be to help pastors new to urban areas relate to their communities through education—public, faith-based and private. These regional institutes will be the go-to place for faith-based schools and churches engaged in urban education. Stay tuned for more information as plans are solidified throughout the summer.
Professional Development and Other Team Building Opportunities
One of the ways in which CUEM reaches out to our partners in education is through professional development opportunities. I recently had the privilege to work with educators from The New Life School in the Bronx on shifting teachers’ mindsets to incorporate blended learning into the classrooms. The school serves students with special needs from across NYC and continues to seek ways to individualize instruction so that each student’s needs are met and their passions and strengths are developed. I’m looking forward to continued work with the teachers and students as they move forward.
For information on workshops or professional development opportunities, please contact me at the CUEM office, 212-870-1105 or drop me a note at email@example.com.
Finally…A Little End of the Year Humor—Have a Blessed Summer!