PPS Principals Gather with Area Pastors

on Monday, June 01, 2015 Posted in Stories, Happenings, School Partnership Network

PPS Principals Gather with Area Pastors
Two years in the making and well worth the effort! We're so blessed to announce that on Thursday, May 21st, the first Pastors and Principals gathering with Portland Public Schools took place at the Ambridge Center. It all began in February of 2013, when Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith met with a number of key pastoral leaders to consider the subject of church & school partnerships.

While a local church serving in a neighborhood school is not a new concept, the idea of facilitating a collaborative effort across an entire school district was rather unique. Prompted by a successful gathering of pastors and principals serving in the Beaverton School District in December 2012, initial plans were discussed at the February 2013 meeting to bring the PPS principals together with the local pastors serving within her district. It was an exciting idea that finally came to fruition last month.

For those of us at the School Partnership Network, this was the 13th time we have convened together the principals of a local school district with the pastors serving in their community. There's nothing magical about the format of these 90-minute gatherings, but something extraordinary always happens when we bring together these key leaders. A beautiful synergy happens around the tables that is hard to describe.

The formula for this PPS gathering was the same we've used in the past: some opening remarks by the Superintendent, a short presentation about the work of SPN, showing the 7-minute video clip from the documentary "UNDIVIDED," a community partner highlighted, and then 25 minutes of roundtable discussion, followed by brief table reports. The 165 pastors and principals that gathered at the Ambridge Center for this early morning meeting eagerly participated in the agenda. The table reports reflected the depth of the conversations and the excitement about moving forward together to serve the families attending PPS schools.

At SPN we know that our primary role is to be a convener; to bring together the schools with the faith community in ways that may help them build or strengthen relationships. For the last two years we have been anxious to hold this type of gathering with PPS, based on our earlier meeting with Carole Smith. After many attempts to coordinate such a meeting over the ensuing months, we were very excited when we finally set a firm date earlier this spring. I can honestly say, the atmosphere at the event met or surpassed our best expectations!

The end result of this gathering is still to be seen. However, we can safely say that folks left this meeting excited about the prospects for greater collaborative efforts between our local schools and our area churches. The bottom line is: we are serving the same families! It just makes sense for us to find ways to serve them better by working together. We waited two years to see the PPS principals and pastors gathering. I wonder what kind of great things are going to happen over the next two years now that they've met?