Classroom Teachers

Erin Jensen

Erin Jensen

Heather Leonardo

Heather Leonardo

Christine Dutt

Christine Dutt

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Greetings from the Children’s education leaders Erin, Christine,and Heather! We want to tell you about all the changes and amazing things are happening in our children’s and youth formation classes.

Grades Pre-K to 3 continue to use the Godly Play curriculum, which has been a consistent presence in our children’s education program for many years. Erin currently teaches the younger children (pre-k to K) and Heather teaches the older children (with the help of our wonderful Doorkeepers). We are grateful to Jose Borras who is a trained storyteller and helps as well! Each class follows a pattern that might seem familiar to those who are in church on Sundays: Lesson/Story, Work Time, and Feast. Our lessons teach children biblical stories and liturgy using both words and materials. The program allows children to build a language around Christian spirituality and gives them the freedom to contemplate the stories in their own way. We are currently discussing the lessons we will teach in the coming years in hopes of sharing with the children the full range of biblical teachings. It’s a wonderful experience for us to watch the children grow in their spirituality and their relationships with each other. And we love to hear stories about how Godly Play shows up in children’s lives during the week. Heather’s children had a conversation the other day that is a perfect example of this:

5 year old: “I’m thanksful for God and Jesus, who died.”
7 year old: “But he’s still alive in our hearts.”

Grades 4 & 5 is using a new curriculum called Connect and it is from Sparkhouse. (the Lutherans’ publishing house). Each lesson plan follows the same format: opening game-type thing, video (!), read and discuss the Bible passage, project (craft/art), and closing ritual. This year, we are covering some important Old Testament stories in class and next year we’ll cover the New Testament. We also have eight (yes, 8) 4th graders new to this class and one returning 5th grader. It is a dynamic group!

Grades 6 to 8 is also using a new curriculum called Reform and it is also from Sparkhouse. It is sort of similar to Connect, in that it follows a similar structure for every lesson and has a video for each lesson. The lessons tackle big questions, like “Who wrote the Bible, God or humans” and “Why should I pray when God doesn’t answer all of my prayers.” And yet the videos have a sense of humor while encouraging the students to think through these questions. This curriculum is really geared to where students this age are at emotionally and intellectually, more than anything we’ve used before.

High School. Heather Leonardo and Christine Dutt have started a group for high school students. The aim is to engage high school students where they are at and provide a forum for a conversations about moral issues in their lives, within an Episcopal, Christian and spiritual context. Classes may use the video from the Reform curriculum as a jumping off point but also pull from other sources and try to incorporate music each week too. For example, our first class dealt with gossip, the lesson from Reform entitled “is the Bible true” and the musical Wicked. (There’s a consistent thread there; think about it for a few minutes.) The next two classes will talk about interfaith issues and faith and feminism.

If you have any questions or want to know more, please talk to one of us. We’d love to talk to you about it.

Christine Dutt, Erin Jensen and Heather Leonardo