“None of us have to go to Mexico or Burma to minister to a broad range of people. The Lord has brought the world to our doorstep. All Lauren and I had to do was engage with those who were already in our neighborhood.” – Ben and Lauren Solomon
“It’s been an amazing ride,” said Alison Treadaway as she talked about Watermark’s School Impact ministry. School Impact offers a new way for Watermark members to connect with the church’s partner schools – or to receive coaching for impacting their own local school. Whether through a single opportunity like helping at a field day or during back-to-school activities, or through long-term relationships developed by tutoring a child or supporting a teacher in the classroom, simple acts of service are already making an impact. Now that the efforts in Lake Highlands, Richardson, and Plano are connecting under the School Impact umbrella, we have the chance to make an even bigger difference in the 2016-17 school year.
Below are the stories of two families who engaged with their local schools by noticing needs and now help lead this charge. If you’d like to join them at RISD Academy, Northlake Elementary, or Sigler Elementary, visit tinyurl.com/sch-impact.
“In February of 2015, I was challenged by a sermon series titled, ‘Light of the World,’ which encouraged us to engage locally with those in need. There are many opportunities to serve the poor and needy, but how could I do that as I parent three young kids, stay involved in my kids’ school, and serve at Watermark?
“In a way that only God can orchestrate, I stumbled into a conversation about the RISD Academy, a Richardson elementary school just three miles from my kids’ elementary school, but very different demographically. About 95% of the 900+ students are at or below poverty and 83% of the students speak English as a second language.
“With the exchange of a few emails, I discovered a very simple, yet important need to assist the students during the STAAR testing. The next day, neighborhood friends worked together to provide water and snacks for the students during the test. It was such a simple thing, but it meant so much to the students who depend on the free-and-reduced lunch system. Usually a PTA would organize this, but this school has a minimally involved PTA.
“This small act of service opened up opportunities to build relationships with the school’s principal and get others involved at the school. Our team went on to help with teacher appreciation luncheons, reading programs, tutoring and library support. As we gear up for the 2016-2017 school year, we hope to be the hands and feet of Christ to these students, staff and parents of the campuses in our area.”
Ben and Lauren Solomon
“When my wife, Lauren, and I married, we moved to the Lake Highlands area in Dallas. We both had backgrounds in inner-city ministry, so we quickly joined an urban ministry through Young Life focusing on junior high kids who weren’t currently being reached. When it was time to send our daughter to school, through much prayer, we chose to send her to our neighborhood school, Northlake Elementary. About 88% of the students at Northlake are economically disadvantaged. Few believers have invested in the school, and there is minimal parent and community involvement.
“Whether we are helping put together a school carnival, or making sure every teacher feels valued during Teacher Appreciation Week, God has given us so many opportunities to show people Christ’s love. Our daughter now has friends who are refugees from Burma who will be joining us at a neighborhood Vacation Bible School this summer. We’ve met many parents who love their kids so much but are not able to get involved because they are busy trying to make ends meet.
“None of us have to go to Mexico or Burma to minister to a broad range of people. The Lord has brought the world to our doorstep. All Lauren and I had to do was engage with those who were already in our neighborhood. It’s hard sometimes, but the gospel is not about my comfort. There is so much joy and sweetness in just doing the good works that God has prepared for us to do. We are looking forward to working with other families in our neighborhood to share the hope of Christ with kids we see in our community every day.”
To be a part of sharing God’s love with these local schools – Northlake Elementary of Lake Highlands, RISD Academy of Richardson and Sigler Elementary of Plano – check out the new School Impact Ministry at tinyurl.com/sch-impact. Want to get involved or find out more about the School Impact ministry? Join us at our School Impact information session on Sunday, August 28 from 3:00-4:30 pm in the 3rd floor of the West Tower at Watermark’s Dallas Campus. Registration is available at tinyurl.com/sch-impact.