A Christian church is extending its reach beyond its doors and into its local school system, earning it the distinction as the 2016 Friend of Education Award winner.
Plum Creek Christian Church has made an impact on students of Pendleton County Schools by “working in partnership with the school district to transform the Pendleton County community,” Pendleton County Schools Superintendent Anthony Strong and Northern Kentucky Cooperative for Educational Services Executive Director Amy Razor wrote in nominating the church for the award.
The church received the honor, given annually since 1989, Feb. 26 during the Kentucky School Boards Association’s annual conference in Louisville. KSBA sponsors the program.
In accepting the award on behalf of the church, community outreach minister Jared Perkins noted that his church’s mission is not the same as the school district’s mission, but there are times when the missions intersect.
“And when we can find times like that, it’s important that we work together,” he told conference attendees. “It’s within the scope of all of our organizations in our area and your communities that we be able to find a way to make sure that every kid is reading on level by the end of third grade.
“It’s within the scope of the missions of all of our organizations to make sure that there aren’t any kids in our communities who leave school on Friday and don’t have another meal until breakfast on Monday.
Jared Perkins, the community outreach minister at Plum Creek Christian Church,
receives the 2016 Friend of Education Award. From left, KSBA Executive Director
Mike Armstrong; Perkins; and KSBA President Allen Kennedy.
“It’s within the scope of all of our organizations to figure out ways to make sure all of the parents in our communities, that when they have children, they have all of the resources they need to get them ready to come to kindergarten.
“So I have a challenge for you today, too: Go back to your homes, your communities, and find those organizations and see if you can have a conversation about where your mission connects with their mission, and work together.”
According to Strong and Razor, some of the risk factors for students in Pendleton County are an increase in low-income families and a lack of adult support for students.
That’s where Plum Creek Christian Church and Perkins came in.
In 2013, the church provided the district a grant-writing expert to assist in applying for a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant. That was just the tip of the iceberg as that process, Strong and Razor wrote, resulted “in a deeper commitment and understanding of how the community and the school could work together to remove barriers to education.”
That same year, the church started providing weekend backpack meals to 100 Pendleton County Elementary students each week. Volunteers continue to provide, sort, pack and deliver more than 5,000 meals per year to reduce child hunger in the community.
In fall 2014, the church purchased a building to provide a program called Further Falmouth, which provides counseling and tutoring. Plans are for the program to provide free medical care in partnership with the city government.
In 2014 and 2015, the Plum Creek church and Pendleton County Schools again partnered to write a 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant. Southern Elementary was awarded a $500,000 grant through this effort. The church’s staff and volunteers are now an integral part of the weekly after-school programming.
Plum Creek has expanded its efforts through mobilizing other community organizations to get involved in education. The church recently recruited and trained new volunteers to work with children one-on-one after school.