Saturday, August 18, 2007

Salem Lutheran and New Moves in the News!

My congregation's school, Salem Lutheran, is the subject of the following piece in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Our principal, Joey Althage, is truly a gift of God for our congregation and school. He is not only brilliant in the field of education, he is a top-notch administrator, gifted organizer and steward of resources, and a devout and devoted Augsburg Confession Christian.

The faculty and staff at Salem is likewise strictly top-shelf. Without exception, they are devoted, hard-working, friendly, competent, and dedicated to the children and to the Gospel. This Sunday, we are installing a music teacher for our school and a choir director for our church - Miss Rehema Kavugha - a recent double-major graduate of Concordia - Seward. Rehema fits in very well with our faculty, as she is not only excellent in her field, but also gifted with diligence and a lively sense of humor. The children already love her, and she has endeared herself to our congregation as well. Rehema is a former parishioner of (former Salem pastor) Rev. Dr. Scott Murray and of Memorial Lutheran Church in Houston. As far as her doctrinal rigor and dedication to the traditional historic liturgy and hymnody of the Churches of the Augsburg Confession - need I say more?

Anyway, the article above is about an innovation Joey and our faculty are implementing at Salem starting this year. Salem and Memorial brought the two linguistic innovators (Donald Dominico and Christine Portier) of the New Moves language approach from Toronto to Gretna to teach a seminar a couple weeks ago. They also brought Sophie Kusic, a Toronto principal who has implemented New Moves in her school with astounding results. The faculties of Salem and Memorial were impressed (to understate it!) by what we saw, by the wisdom and simplicity of the method, and by the documented results of New Moves - even in an extremely diverse, at-risk, multilingual, and violence-plagued environment in Toronto.

New Moves is simply a stroke of genius. It truly has the possibility to reverse the decades-long slide into illiteracy that has overtaken North America.

Although many on our faculty have been teaching for decades, and some are near retirement (in fact, some on our faculty were first- and second-grade students of some of their current colleagues!), New Moves has been received with enthusiasm and eagerness without exception.

If any readers of Father Hollywood would like more information about New Moves, I would be happy to put you in contact with Donald, Christine, and Sophie. Although the program has been twelve years in the making, it is just now "breaking out" beyond the borders of Toronto. Plans are underway to create New Moves conferences and web support for users. This is an exciting time to be involved in this brilliant approach to language instruction. Salem and Memorial will be the first 100% implementations of New Moves across all grades. Donald, Christine, and Sophie are as excited as we are about it.

Although it is fodder for another post, I stumbled upon a Latin curriculum that embraces many of the principles of New Moves, and am starting to implement it across the board in junior high this year. More on that later...

Once again, I can't sing the praises loudly enough of New Moves, of Donald, Christine, and Sophie; of the faculty, staff, and administration of Salem Lutheran School, and of Principal Althage. Serving as a pastor of a parish that has a school is a huge commitment and a lot of work - work that many pastors shun and sometimes even speak ill of. But it is a commitment rooted in the Gospel of Christ and work that is truly a joy and a godly vocation. I'm humbled to be a part of it. The faculty, staff, and administration of Salem have made it hard for me to even imagine what it would be to serve a congregation without a school!

Anything we can do to make children more literate, more open to reading prose and poetry, writing, composing, reflecting, word-smithing, and thinking can only be good for the Kingdom of God. Words are powerful tools, for our words are dim reflections of the Word of God that has infinite creative and redemptive power. Thy Word is a lamp... In the beginning was the Word...

Verbum crucis Dei virtus est!

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