As one who has been involved with the religious education program for the past 8 years, I want to write in response to the article “School board questions religious studies.” I certainly respect the School Board’s decision to review the “validity and popularity” of the program, and want to share from my perspective and experiences, as one of the volunteer religious education teachers in the district.
I have had the incredible privilege of teaching, first at Crestomere School, and most recently at the Ponoka Elementary School.
Just this week I was asked by a student from a former class, “Aren’t you that Bible guy?”
I knew what she meant, because it is a question that comes up more than one might think, and interestingly enough it is always a catalyst to great memories of a great class shared together. While I agree with Trustees Lorrie Jess and Barb Walker that education of faith and spiritual belief ought to be primarily carried out by the parents, I do feel that the religious education program has had a truly valuable part to play, assisting in that process.
As a parent, a youth worker with Youth Unlimited, and as an active member of this community, I value the pairing of education with the strong morals and values of religious education.
The program has always been an inclusive, inter-denominational class facilitated by a representative of the local church ministerial.
Students participating are given the opportunity to experience character development and values formation through various classroom resources including story telling, drama, games, and discussion.
In the 2012/2013 School year, this program at the Ponoka Elementary School became an options class which students had to opt in to participate. This year the program was not offered because of an insufficient number of students registering, and truthfully the program looks to be revealing its validity and popularity, especially when stacked up against excellent options classes such as “Grossology”, “Drama”, and “Creative Cooks.”
If it ceases to be offered, I know I will greatly miss my times teaching the class, but I am grateful for the opportunity we have had and believe it has been a valuable part of our education system.