Being part of Dallas County schools

Published 10:49 pm Saturday, October 24, 2015

By LARRY STOVER | Praise Park Ministries Church of the Nazarene

For the past seven years I have enjoyed being a volunteer in the Dallas County School Corporation. Working with schools in the “North Zone” has been a memory I will always cherish.

This past Monday I had the privilege of being invited to participate in the “Dallas County School System Accreditation Process.” For more than an hour I sat in a room with community leaders, educators, and parents as we answered questions posed by members of the Accreditation Committee.

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I was encouraged by the way community leaders are committed to giving both financial donations and also giving time to make a difference in Dallas County Schools. There is a real desire among community leaders to do all they can to make our schools the best they can be.

Since I was the only pastor in the room, the panel was anxious to know what area churches are doing to impact the schools. Since I work with churches on the North Zone for the most part, I was happy to share with them how more and more churches and pastors are getting involved in the schools. Churches are heavily involved at DCHS, Martin Middle and Valley Grande Elementary. We are working to get more involved at J.E. Terry.

It is really sad that we have so much fear and frustration over the concept of “separation of church and state.” The values and principles that are being taught in our schools are the same that I practice from my Judeo- Christian faith. Many church leaders are afraid to work in the schools because of this dilemma. As I told the committee, more than 99 percent of what we both desire for the growth and maturity of our students is found in the church and public schools. We can go a long way to help our students by working together rather than living in fear with what someone might say because we are a Christian.

One questions from the panel revolved around our knowledge of the “mission statements” of our schools. Our schools have some great mission statements in their handbooks. If you haven’t read yours lately, take a moment and check out calls for excellence in academics as well as character development. These statements are a marvelous holistic approach to bringing out the best in students.

Looking back, I appreciate the way I have access to the office of Don Willingham, our superintendent of Schools, all of the principals of the North Zone, teachers and staff of area schools.

There were also some challenges presented to our schools. Among the parents’ input was a desire to see our children, especially at the elementary level, have more free time to foster greater self-expression. There was also a desire to see art and music opportunities expanded and developed.