An initiative born more than two years ago as a way to keep the community more informed and create a dialogue about how to help students inside and outside the classroom is still going strong in the St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District.
The school district hosts the Pastoral Luncheon once every three months to bring educators and religious leaders together.
“Since last year, we’ve been reaching out to the religious community to keep them informed as to what is going on in our schools and to be totally transparent,” School Board President Albert “Ali” Burl III said. “We want to create a better partnership with the community, so we can have positive role models and mentors come back and share success stories. Everyone knows the old adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ so we welcome the pastors and members of their congregations who want to give back.”
Board member Shawn Wallace added that the partnership just makes sense.
“The pastors are the leaders in our community,” School Board member Shawn Wallace said. “These pastors are very compassionate about our kids and our schools.”
During the latest Pastoral Luncheon, held Feb. 6, guests and educators discussed the district’s new plan to attract certified teachers, the possible creation of a magnet high school and future changes to school performance scores.
“We also discussed the possible implementation of a Communities in Schools Program,” Burl said. “This may be our most important initiative to increase community and parental involvement. Research shows that parental involvement benefits children’s and adolescents’ learning and academic success by improving academic achievement, sense of wellbeing, attendance, students’ attitudes and educational aspirations.”
Burl said in addition to keeping the community informed about such initiatives in the school system, the forum has served as a way to communicate the return on investment the community is getting for its support of recent tax initiatives.
“With the help of the community we rebuilt East St. John High School, built a new school for Lake Pontchartrain and are rebuilding East St. John Preparatory Academy,” Burl said. “We now have money dedicated to the maintenance of our facilities, which will replace two badly needed roofs, so the community has begun to see the dedication by the board to create a top-notch school district,” Burl said. “As everything continues to come together, the School Board motto ‘As One’ will hopefully become our parish motto.”