Do you remember your 3rd grade teacher? Susan Jackson does. Mrs. Johnson believed in Susan and identified her early on as gifted and talented. This simple act of affirmation stayed with Susan and gave her the hope she needed to go to college and move out of poverty.
Today, Susan is one of over 40 volunteers bringing that same hope to kids at The Rusk School in Houston ISD. School statistics are sobering: 85% of Rusk students are economically disadvantaged, 69% are at risk of dropping out of school, and 15% are homeless.
Just a mile away on the other side of US-59, Christ Church Cathedral has been part of the community since 1839. Its mission is “to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ through word and deed to the parish, the diocese and the downtown community.” Seven years ago, the church decided to partner with Rusk in a continuing effort to put its mission into action.
At that point, Rusk didn’t have a library. Church members rallied together, raised the necessary funds, and transformed the multipurpose room into a library. Last year, the church gave a significant grant to the school to enhance its Math and Language Arts programs. The church also gives individual grants to classrooms through an organization called DonorsChoose.org.
Church members also serve students at an individual level. In a partnership with Kids Hope USA, volunteers serve as mentors or prayer partners. Check out this beautiful story about 6-year Mia and her mentor, Jen Moss:
The church has already done so much, but Susan and the Rusk team are continuing to dream. They’re currently working with the church’s Spanish-speaking congregation and Mission Outreach Council in hopes of one day offering ESL, financial, and parenting classes for the students’ parents.
That’s the beautiful thing about a long-term partnership. Knowing that you’ll be there for the long haul, you begin treating the school as your own. You begin thinking about what could be – and because of the trusted relationship, you can work together to actually make it happen.
We think this is what Jesus meant in Mark 12:31 when he said, “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Thanks to Susan and the Christ Church Cathedral volunteers who are indeed loving your neighbors as yourselves.
We’re sharing stories of existing church-school partnerships to celebrate the good that’s happening in Houston and to let others know what can be done. Know of another partnership story? Contact Marilyn at Marilyn@lovinghouston.net.