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First Day of School

September 2014Sept 2014 letter

“It’s going to be okay… I was the same way when I came here, but not I’m better”
~Jordan, 7 years old

Dear Friend,

I bet you remember the feeling of the first day of school.  Seven year old Jordan sure did.  Last year as a first grader in the UrbanPromise School he walked into Miss Heath’s class a hot mess.  He threw himself on the floor, disobeyed Miss Heath, introduced choiuce new words to his class, and made a case for a boxing career by pummeling classmates.  He was angry, uncooperative, disruptive, and aggressive – and tht was his good day on day one!

IMG_9095-1Not surprisingly, that was why he was in our school.  His Mom, Miss Vera, was desperate.  In his old school she got called to pick him up every day during school.

“It was just a bad, bad situation.  I needed a better school for him, a clean slate,” his Mom remembered.  If Jordan was a slate, Miss heath had the chalk for the job.  I’d put Miss Heath up against any teacher in the state for being excellent, tough, with high standards and great love for her students, surpassed only by her love for God.  Jordan’s behavior also gave him a chance to get to know Mrs. Raines, our Principal.  Soon Miss Vera had a chance to meet Mrs. Raines, too.

“I know my son, and when Mrs. Raines called me in to meet with her I was sure it was to expel Jordan.  When she said no, you all wouldn’t give him, I lost it, I cried, I was so thankful.  I had help.”

The school just kept loving him, giving him hugs and telling him every morning we walked in that they were glad to see him and most of all they said they would pray for him, every day.”

A year later, with much chalk written on the slate, Jordan started his second year with us, still in Miss Heath’s class (our first and second grades are a combined class) – a boy transformed.  But the first day was once again exciting in Miss Heath’s class as Dray set a new first grade low by punching Miss Heath.

Jordan looked at Dray, and firmly told him this: “It’s going to be OK.  Miss Heath is a nice teacher.  I was the same way last year, but now I’m better.”

IMG_9071-1Jesus said that from the overflow of our hearts our mouths’ speak.  Jordan’s heart was offering some powerful prasie for Miss Heath and wisdom for Dray.  How does this kind of transformation happen in hearts that seem so hard?  The answer: staff who love Jesus, staff who love kids, staff who know that setting a high standard and consistently holding to it is love.  Miss Vera is one of our biggest supporters, volunteering in the school frequently and full of gratitude.

Yesterday I was outside Miss Heath’s class and I heard her kindly but firmly say: “So when we line up for specials here is what we are going to do,” Miss Heath started.  After offering clear instructions she asked, “Do you understand? Remember, ‘I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.”

This week the UrbanPromise School was cited in an editorial by our local paper as one of the four urban schools in Delaware that falling schools should look to as role models for achieving high standards for urban youth.  The other three were well funded, well resourced, prominent charter schools. I do not know the newspaper editor who wrote it and she has never visted us. This respect was earned by our teachers and staff loving kids in God’s name producing results.

Transformation comes from God.  Kids in tough situations need this.  Many schools are doing good work, but I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God for salvation.  This power is what makes the UrbanPromise School unique, something a charter school can not do, something powerful, life changing and eternal.

I’m asking you to be part of this power to change kids lives and set an example for the world by supporting the resources these outsanding teachers need.  First, our kids have terrific looking new uniforms, royal blue with eagles.  If you give us $300 we can get one shirt for each staff member to be able to wear alongside their classes.  We have invested $2000 for a highly regarded reading curriculum that targets pre-K and Kindergarten.  Can you support half of this to give our kids the reading start so crucial to their future academics?  We’d like to send out kids to Coverdale Farms for a nutrition and wellness program over eight trips.  Can you pay for one trip for $500 and help our kids avoid the common trap of obesity?  We want Bibles for our older kids, quality ones so they will last, $30 each.  Or give the kids some fun and give $100 for new gym equipment (in fact, come on down and play kick ball with them!).

Thank you!

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Sept 2014 letter

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