Thursday, July 18, 2013

Trenton Board of Education Faith Based Summit

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For photo's of the event

Covering the FAITH BASED SUMMIT held today Thursday, July 18th 2013 from 9:00-11:00am.

Opening Remarks by Mr. Francisco Duran, Superintendent Trenton NJ Public Schools.

The summit had 3 goals,
1.     Establish a new partnership with the Faith Based Community
2.     Adopt a school program
3.     Create safe passages

During the open discussions several of 50+ in attendance spoke passionately about action steps.

After the event I spoke with 5 people from the diverse collection of participants committed to faith, community and action. 

Gerald Truehart who is on the Trenton School Board spoke encouragingly about Superintendent Duran and agreed that this needs to be followed with action!  When I asked, “what specifically are you planning on accomplishing before the end of 2013?” Mr. Truehart shared that one of his focuses will be to continue the  programming of the Trenton Pop Warner Football league and it’s sister organization of cheerleaders.  He made a point to share, “this is not just about athletics, we have a strong focus on education and the scholar athelete.”

Aaron Richter, Pastor of St. Bartholomew Lutheran Church in the Franklin Park section of Trenton was stern in saying “it’s about partnerships with several others!”  Aaron went on to say he would be connecting with the local elementary school, Franklin Park and the 2 local civic associations, Franklin Park Civic Association and the Franklin Park NE Block Association regarding creative ways to make Trenton better by being action driven.

Reverend Dr. Robert C. Wade, the Presiding Elder of the First Episcopal District based out of Florence NJ was in attendance with his wife Prudence.  We chatted about the action steps that would take this from a summit/meeting to making a real difference.  Dr. Wade who leads ~24 AME Churches from Trenton NJ to Camden NJ thought a City like Newark has some successes that other City’s like Trenton could learn from. 

Jeanne L. Rodriguez, Assistant Director of Field Education at Princeton Theological Seminary thought of the summit as “hope for change” and engagement from PTS.  She found the amount of participants edifying to her spirit, this combined with the vision of new President, M. Craig Barnes brings her excitement.  We can expect to see more of Jeanne in the Trenton Region as PTS builds on its relationship with congregations like Westminster Presbyterian Church located on Greenwood Ave.

My interviews concluded chatting with Darren “Freedom” Green.  Freedom is an active member of the Trenton Region with a focus on education and self-development.  The current President of TCCA-Trenton Council of Civic Associations is open about his vision of Trenton being better in many ways but today’s conversation focused on some action steps he would like to see.  Those steps included a commitment from the faith-based community to do more.  He brought up several interesting ideas including churches being part of a safe passage program for schools, opening doors not to prosleseltise but to be a place where people can share neighborhood cares, thoughts and concerns.  Maybe even having a crisis counselor available for the immediate community. 

In closing the consensus was simple we need to take action!

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