Hazelwood District Officials Meet With Faith-Based Organizations

Hazelwood renews long-standing relationships with faith-based community

Recently, the Hazelwood School District (HSD) renewed its relationships with several faith-based organizations during a breakfast meeting to discuss parent and community involvement.

HSD Supt. Grayling Tobias, Board of Education members, HSD administrators, along with 25 leaders from local faith-based organizations, met to discuss building, and in numerous cases, renewing long-standing relationships with the District for the success of students and the broader community.

“I was thrilled with the turnout. We invited clergy leaders from different denominations and religious beliefs to come up with ways to help our children to succeed,” said Tobias. “In the last few months, we’ve met with several members of our community and felt it was time to reconvene with the faith-based community to further expand our partnerships.”

According to Tobias, HSD and faith-based organizations have a number of resources available. By working together and sharing information, they can provide more services to help families and strengthen the community.

HSD is now in its second year with this clergy alliance, but there are many instances where relationships were established long before the coalition was formed.  One of the presentations during the meeting highlighted a few of these successful partnerships.

For example, over the last five years, the Hazelwood Baptist Church has provided breakfast for Hazelwood West High School football players before home games. Hazelwood Baptist Church leaders have also worked with Armstrong Elementary School to form a program in which volunteers read to students in the library.

Kimberly McKenzie, community relations specialist for HSD who helps coordinate the alliance said, “The average person may not be cognizant that teachers spend money from their own pockets to assist students who may be lacking needed resources for school. Volunteers from Lindsay Lane Church came up with a creative solution to help McCurdy Elementary School students and teachers. Last September, volunteers fulfilled teachers “wish list” by donating books and school supplies for classrooms,” she said.

“Recently, The Reverend Glen Connoley, Bellefontaine United Methodist Church pastor, delivered school supplies donated by members of his congregation. These supplies will benefit two HSD schools.” added McKenzie.

“A few months ago, Jamestown Elementary School partnered with Shalom Prince of Peace Church to help feed families in need, by collecting and donating canned goods. The same church is also working with Hazelwood Central High School to tutor and mentor sophomore students.”

Bethel-Providence Christian Church, under the direction of The Reverend Charles Pennington, Jr. and Brown Elementary School staff are in the process of forming a partnership through the school’s “Men on a Mission” mentoring program,” she continued.

McKenzie also shared that Christ the King United Church of Christ and Third Presbyterian Church both held winter coat give-a-ways and invited neighboring schools, as well as individuals from the community, an opportunity to take home new or gently-used coats.

“These are just a few examples of how local churches are helping students and their families by partnering with our schools,” she said.

“Our No. 1 priority is to help our students to succeed.  We believe that this is best accomplished through parent and community involvement. However, in some cases, we have to first remove the barriers that may prevent our children from learning, said Tobias.

Excited about plans to move the district forward, following the meeting, Tobias invited the group to join him in a group photo, to mark the historic occasion and to celebrate renewed partnerships.

“As educators, parents, community leaders and taxpayers, we all want to help our students, their families and ultimately our communities to succeed,” Tobias concluded. (story provided by the Hazelwood District Communications Dept.) 

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