Since my arrival at Saint Michael and All Angels, I have had the delightful task of learning about and visiting with many of our established partner ministries that serve children and their families, in Dallas and beyond. It started with our community partnerships at St. Philip’s, 75 years ago, and then Jubilee Park and Community Center, 25 years ago, and now, Bachman Lake Together. I also learned about the children we serve in other lands, including Tela, Honduras and Amistad, Bolivia. And of course there are the schools that were started here at our church—The Episcopal School of Dallas, and now the Saint Michael Episcopal School, as well as our Sunday School for children and youth. All of this work in the over 7 decades of SMAA ministry led me to reflect upon the fact that this church has a huge heart and gift for serving children. If you think about the number of children we have touched in this expanse of time, I have no doubt that it would number in the tens of thousands.
I am therefore pleased to announce that we are adding a new partnership to come alongside the work we are currently doing.
We are the new Community Partner of Stephen C. Foster Elementary School (“Foster”) in the Bachman Lake community.
It is a true Community Partnership grounded in the United to Learn program, funded in part by a very generous 3-year grant from our own All Angels Foundation. This program is a natural extension of the work we are already doing serving the children and families of our ministry partner, Bachman Lake Together.
Foster serves children from PreK3 to 6th grade, almost all of whom live in homes where English is a second language, and almost all of whom are impacted by the effects of poverty. Principal Jacob Johnson is a high-energy visionary (fits right in with SMAA!) with a huge heart and lofty dreams. He is already doing phenomenal work at the school that he has led for just 2.5 years. Despite Covid, major renovations to the school and the surrounding grounds are already in process. Additionally, he and his staff have been working hard to improve the programs and outcomes for his students. Also, the school is just a fun place to work and study!
A core part of our ministry will be the establishment of a tutoring program working with Foster staff in tandem with United to Learn. Initially we will assist PreK3 to 2nd grade students with phonics and 4th grade to 6th grade students with fluency. We will also support the teachers by providing hospitality and other resources as they work with the students and their families. We will help with the annual Fall Festival, Career Day and more. We will also have community workdays to paint and decorate the inside hallways and assist in landscaping the extensive grounds surrounding the school. Additionally, we have the opportunity to plan and provide afterschool programming, including possible options for students to join our chorister program and/or a once-a-month soccer clinic.
We at SMAA have a solid history of going above and beyond in our work for the children we serve. We naturally tend to surround our littlest neighbors and their families with love and resources in hope that they can reach their greatest potential. I therefore invite you to bring your Saint Michael love and energy to this new partnership. Watch for ministry announcements, links on our website and other parish communications to sign up and participate as we launch this ministry.
“O Eternal God, bless all schools, colleges, and universities, especially Stephen C. Foster Elementary School, that they may be lively centers for sound learning, new discovery, and the pursuit of wisdom; and grant that those who teach and those who learn may find you to be the source of all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Who We Are
United to Learn (U2L) is a Dallas-based education nonprofit with a stated mission of changing lives by transforming the relationship between schools and community. United to Learn is focused on accelerating student achievement across 50 Dallas ISD elementary schools, and growing purposeful leaders through partnerships with businesses, high schools, colleges, faith-based organizations, and engaged individuals and groups. Together we work to create a united, thriving community.
What We Believe
Our values underpin everything we do. Together, we strive to be:
Optimistic: We believe that with the right resources all children can achieve greatness.
Nimble: We respond flexibly and creatively through active listening.
Culturally Competent: We build a positive understanding of diverse perspectives.
Collaborative: We respectfully and empathetically work to learn from each other and build coalition.
Effective: We use evidence-based practices for high-impact results.
What We Do
Our program initiatives aim to: 1) improve our schools’ social emotional health, 2) create aspirational learning environments, 3) drive student literacy achievement, and 4) activate an informed community empowered to advocate for educational equity from a culturally competent perspective.
**This article was written by the Rev. Robin Hinkle and was featured in the 2022 Winter Archangel.