My daughter says I'm a poster child for lifelong learning. She may be right.
Not only did I homeschool most of our children (They later attended a Christian and public school.), but these days, as a grandmother, I'm working on an EdD in Educational Leadership. There is still much to learn, so as 2016 begins, I am still committed to loving the Lord with all my mind.
Education is important in our family (a value passed on by my mother), but that doesn't mean it's been easy. I encountered challenges as early as elementary school, since English was my second language. By the grace of God, I was able to learn concepts plus language development along with colloquialisms and go on to become a first generation college graduate. The Lord enabled me to beat the statistics and to consider how we can help others do the same, and there's nothing like a new year to refresh my resolve!
We are 16 years into a new century, yet Hispanic families still see how one side of town has access to a much better educational opportunity (including college preparation) than another—we see very clearly how educational opportunity can vary from one zip code to another. Not all families have the opportunity to consider homeschooling or private school options. For this reason, we must commit ourselves not only to ensuring educational equity for our own children, but for all children, including those attending public schools.
Equal education for all students is a matter of biblical justice, and our churches are just the right place to begin. I encourage church leaders and members to consider how they can support education equity for all students in the community. You can begin by asking questions: Which schools need support and involvement? How can you show the love of Christ to struggling students and their families? What do families in your neighborhood and church need in order to help their students succeed?
As this year kicks off, a simple first step for making education a topic of discussion inside your church walls is to sign up for Education Sunday. Thousands of churches participate in *Education Sunday each year on the first Sunday of September, which opens the door to year-long discussions about the value of loving the Lord with our minds.
Conversations and activities can flow naturally all year long: mentoring students, helping parents understand the value of teacher meetings, offering resources for college scholarships and taking students on campus tours. Simply asking how we can support students will begin the process of improving educational outcomes in our communities.
Your congregation can creatively support education in 2016 in so many ways. Previously, our local congregation sponsored a weekly ministry called Learning-to-Learn. Students from the church and the community received practical study tips, homework assistance and basic etiquette skills from a volunteer faculty. The supplemental instruction of classroom skills were complimented by an introduction to basic good manners, such as table manners and the proper way to introduce themselves and others. Focusing on a holistic approach to training, encouraging and celebrating the students' advancement has helped them and is evidenced today by their development of useful, lifelong skills.
There's so much our churches—and we as individual Christians—can do to make a difference for students this year. We can help ensure all students have the opportunity to learn, to reach the potential God has placed in each student, and to be equipped to be college-ready. Together we can help to raise the standards for all children in our communities so they can reach their God-given potential—this year and for years to come.
Leticia Reyes is in the dissertation phase of her EdD in Educational Leadership at Dallas Baptist University. She is the proud grandmother of eight.
*For more information on Education Sunday, visit faithandeducation.com.
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