Education summit urges cooperation
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 26, 2004 2:06 AM
There may not be one simple answer to problems facing education. But there is a role that everyone can play.
That was the message Saturday when 60 people of varying ages and backgrounds attended an education summit at Best Grove Missionary Baptist Church to discuss ideas for supporting students.
The workshop's theme was "Building a Strong Foundation for Children: Examining the Roles of the Church, the Family and the School."
Featured speaker Daryl Woodard, executive director of Wayne County Youth Outreach, called the topic a "mouthful."
"But it's something that's very needed here in Wayne County and throughout the United States," he said.
He said all three factions -- church, school and family -- must unite to make sure youth have a solid foundation.
"If you don't have a foundation, you can be swept anywhere," he said.
Citing such problems as teen-age pregnancy, the risk of AIDS and the rise in crime, Woodard said, it is time for people to become part of the solution.
"We have to make sure that we're doing whatever we can to work together," he said.
He said many children are hurting. Some face a bad home situation, others have lost a loved one, still others are dealing with the heartache from breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend. The community needs to rally around them.
"They're not thinking about the end-of-grade tests," he said. "You have to deal with the whole mind, the whole person."
He said the "holistic approach" ensures all the bases are covered.
"It does a child no good to get a 4 (the top score) on the end-of-grade test in math and reading, but have no fear of God, and then go out and kill somebody," he said. "You can't leave one aspect out. It's mind, body and soul."
He called on the church to make a stand, saying it can sometimes do things the school cannot.
"We can pray freely with people and we can help them," he said. Then he chuckled as he pointed out that despite prayer being taken out of the schools, "kids are always going to pray as long as there's an EOG" test.
He said there is a need for churches to keep their doors open more than just on Sunday and Wednesday nights.
"Have tutorial and after-school programs," he said. "As many churches as there are in Wayne County, it shouldn't be that any child goes lacking."
He also suggested programs to teach teen-agers how to be good parents, especially since a number of them have children of their own.
"The cycle has to stop somewhere," he said. He urged churches to "adopt" parents to help them to rear their children.
The church is vital, he said, the cornerstone in any community.
"It's never too late, and we as Christians need to be very careful about pointing the finger and saying who's going to make it and who's not," he said.
"We as the church need to take a stand, say, 'This is what the Bible says.' Let children dream, do activities with them so they won't think church is boring. We have to live out our Christianity."
In addition to the role of the church and the residents of a community, Woodard said it is important for parents to take their responsibility seriously.
He used PTA meetings as an example, pointing out how attendance drops off once children reach middle school and high school.
"That's when they really need you there," he said. "I implore you, I beg you, I beseech you to stay as intent as you did at the very beginning."
The Rev. Ralph Johnson, associate pastor at Best Grove, said his church has seen the need to be a partner with the public schools. A tutoring ministry is offered Monday night, he said, with retired and active teachers giving their time to help.
"We also have a ministry to teach youth how to interact together and live together in the community, in harmony with one another," he said.
Church members also volunteer in the schools and offer support where needed.
"We don't want to leave the schools out there all by themselves," Johnson said.
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