Some years ago, Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church introduced what he called the PEACE Plan. Pastor Rick explained that the PEACE plan would be a massive effort to mobilize Christians around the world to address what he calls the “five global giants” of spiritual emptiness, corrupt leadership, poverty, disease, and illiteracy by promoting reconciliation, equipping servant leaders, assisting the poor, caring for the sick, and educating the next generation.
The PEACE plan seeks to
- Promote Reconciliation
- Equip Servant leaders
- Assist The Poor
- Care For The Sick
- Educate The Next Generation
The power of the PEACE Plan lies in tapping into the local communities and the people who live there. As Pastor Rick explained, not every village has a school or a hospital, but most have a church. The local church would a hub from which PEACE could serve the needs of the community by attacking the global giants.
It struck me that here in the United States, that our schools deals have similar needs. Nearly every one of the identified global giants is present in some form at many of our schools. Most schools have students and parents that need reconciliation, servant leadership, assistance, care, and education.
The neighborhood school can be made into the de-facto community center, health clinic, food bank, and source of adult education. For every student, there is a family that can be affected through the needs meet and services delivered through the school. The school is an island in a sea of needs and problems. But, a micro-PEACE initiative can make a difference.
So I developed a plan that identified needs and plugged in resources to address them.
“Reconciliation” has a role at a school site, though not in obvious way most think of reconciliation. The difficulties poverty, lack of access, limited education, and language barriers creates a need for reconciliation in varying ways.
Parent to Student: Parent education classes to aide parents in dealing with the difficulties of raising a student, often when the student speaks English and the does not. Networked with local community organization to provide parent counseling/education classes for free to the parents of students at the school.
Parent to Parent: Used local county and community resources to get parents with relationship difficulties counseling. Often, counselors meet the parent(s) and held the session at school. When home life is unsettled, it creates a difficult environment for students.
Parent to Country: Set up a relationship with a local organization that provided Immigration classes and citizenship classes for parents at a reduced rate. Classes were held at the school at night.
Equip Servant Leaders
Parents are often lacking in the knowledge to navigate the educational system and to play an active part in their student’s education because of this lack of knowledge. Schools are desperate for parents to take a greater role in leadership. The school-parent relationship is absolutely key and providing parents the knowledge and skills to become servant leaders at the school is important. For parents to become involved servant leaders at their school site they must have the knowledge.
Community Parent Workshops: Contracted with local community organization to provide parent workshops. The parent workshops were designed to assist families in strengthening the ties between the academic, emotional, physical, psychological, and social components that emphasize healthy communication and thus improve academic skills and parent involvement in the school and educational process.
Parent-and-the School Workshops: Conducted various workshops on how parents could participate in the school-parent relationship. Topics included how to participate in a School Site Council, English Learner Advisory Council, school PTA, school district board meetings, etc.
Junior High and Beyond Workshops: Coordinated workshops that explained various topics in looking forward for their student. Topics included explaining the CAHSE (California High School Exit Exam), Junior High and High School Grading Policies (i.e; what is a GPA, how many Units are needed to graduate, etc) what financial aide is, etc.
Assist The Poor
It is hard to understate the needs of many of the families, even in Orange County. Students are often lacking in the basics of food, clothing, and shelter. Students often cannot afford the small fees for field trips and other school opportunities, and so miss out on these valuable experiences.
Back Pack Food Program: Coordinated with a local neighborhood church to provide weekly deliveries of backpacks of food so students would have food enough for the weekend, when they do not receive the free breakfast and lunch they normally get at school.
Back to School Supplies: Coordinated through Grace Ministries, another local church the putting together and delivery of free bags of school supplies for students.
Operation School Bell and Knitting Guild Provides free clothing to the school’s most needy students.
Medical Insurance: Coordinated representatives of Healthy Families to get students signed up for health insurance.
Christmas Present Donations: Worked with local organizations to get Christmas presents donated to school. Had volunteer dress like Santa Clause and pass out presents to students.
Field Trip Scholarships: Collected donations to help fund filed trips and camp fees for the needy students.
Shelter: Worked with community agencies and local hotels to get homeless families shelter.
Care For The Sick
Schools provide some necessary health screenings for students, such as vision and hearing, but the need is so great the outside resources need to be brought into the school to meet the needs of the students and their parents.
AYUDA Dental Clinic: Coordinated the free USC AYUDA dental clinic to provide dental exams, checkups, and necessary dental work for students.
Gary Center: Provided free dental check exams for preschool students
American Heart Association: Coordinated classes for parents on heart health and free heart checks, and healthy nutrition.
American Diabetes Association: Coordinated classes for parents to learn about diabetes and prevention of diabetes, which is having an impact on students.
Healthy Cooking: Coordinated volunteers who held classes on buying, preparing, and eating healthy meals.
Early Morning Exercise Club: parents meet on the athletic field before school and stretched and walked with a volunteer leader.
A School Based PEACE Plan for schools simply frames the many issues schools face into the 5 categories or "global giants" and taps into groups, organizations, and individuals to provide solutions and resources...the community's Lateral Wisdom.