“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me. I was ill and you comforted me…”
Matthew 25: 35-36
In order for our children to become good stewards of their faith, we must teach them the concept of stewardship. To that end, Saint Agnes School has chosen to become part of the Step-by-Step Stewardship Program.
This program builds stewardship qualities in a very effective yet simple manner. It formalizes stewardship to promote consistency throughout the student experience and helps eliminate duplicity of effort. Children learn stewardship within a process that builds and expands stewardship skills as they grow and mature.
The Step-by-Step program addresses the aspects of stewardship from an introduction to stewardship in Kindergarten to more sophisticated ones in middle school such as global awareness and the disabled. At each grade level, students receive a stewardship “focus” for the year; these focuses remain in place permanently so the program retains continuity and students learn in a progressive manner. The focuses of Saint Agnes Student Stewardship are:
- 1st People who are Elderly
- 2nd People who are Hungry
- 3rd Babies and Children in Need
- 4th People who are Homeless
- 5th People who are Thirsty
- 6th People who are Refugees
- 7th People with Disabilities
- 8th Application of Cumulative Stewardship Concepts
Teachers, in conjunction with parents, facilitate this program and incorporate their particular stewardship focus into class work, art projects, community speakers, reading assignments, field trip experiences, etc. In addition to those activities, each grade participates in at least one service project per year that highlights their stewardship theme. Some activities in which our students have been involved include:
Kindergarten children made cards for Parish friends, collected food and money for the St. Vincent de Paul Society and food pantry, collected pull tabs to send children with cancer to Indian Summer camp, and collected money for a family in need.
The First Grade students have written to pen pals at the Highland Court Apartments. They have also planned and participated in many holiday events throughout the year at Highland Court. They learned about the needs of elderly people through guest speakers and read-alouds. They created prayers and prayed for all elderly people.
Second Grade students took a field trip to the Cathedral of the Assumption where they toured the church and kitchen and watched soup kitchen activities that happen at lunch time every day. They also have a speaker from Dare to Care who talked with the children.
Speakers from St. Joseph’s Home for Children, Kosair, and Ronald McDonald House spoke to the students. The students then decorated and donated a wreath for Kosair’s Festival of Trees and Lights, made and served meals for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House, and made friendship bracelets for the children staying at St. Joseph’s Home.
Speakers from the Coalition for the Homeless and Wayside Christian Mission introduced students to stories of the real people who are homeless. Parents read stories to the class about people who are homeless. In small groups, students visited the preschool at Wayside Christian Mission each month and had a party for the preschoolers.
Fifth grade students had a speaker from Water Step and then collected 1,000 pairs of used shoes for the “Shoes for Water” project that sells the shoes to finance water filtration systems for third world communities. A Saint Agnes parent who is also a GE engineer spoke to students about his work in developing Water Step’s water filtration devices. His work in using his professional skills in service to others was a beautiful example of selfless stewardship. Students also heard a read-aloud novel about water issues in Sudan, watched a documentary film about world water issues, and took a trip on the Spirit of Jefferson to attend Water Wonders, a morning of activities sponsored by the Louisville Water Company to learn about clean water issues here in Louisville.
The Sixth Grade begins its study of people who are refugees with a prayer service. Then, with the help of Catholic Charities, students listened to several speakers who share their personal stories about how they became refugees and what they have experienced since coming to America. The students research the countries and cultures of the speakers to better understand the situations that led them to seek refuge. In the spring each student personally earns money and, with the pooled money of the entire class, a student team shops for items needed by persons who have refugee status and come into our community. The students put together and deliver welcome baskets with the non-food household necessities that they have purchased and collected.
Various speakers talked about specific disabilities or organizations that provide support to people with disabilities. In small groups one morning, students visited one of five different organizations and then shared their experiences with the whole group. The class participated in Walk and Roll to benefit the Kids Center.
Students worked in collaborative groups at many different places, including the Americana Center, Neighborhood House, Harbor House, Nazareth Home, Hand-in-Hand Ministries Gilda’s Club, St. Anthony Soup Kitchen, Catholic Charities, and the St. Joseph Children’s Home.