by Director of Religious Exploration Linnea Nelson.
My favorite part of the week is checking in with each class on Sunday morning. Every class is so different, created by the team of teachers and the personalities and interests of each group of children. I love the variety of ways our children explore ideas. Although each team has a printed curriculum, I know that they bring their own creativity to the class. I see the children deepening their friendships and understanding how to approach the world with wonder, awe, compassion and love. To give you a peek into our classrooms, I decided to ask a few teachers about how they see teaching RE.
James Cardona teaches Preschool and shares, “Working with the Preschool RE class is a wonderful experience. It is so rewarding to teach lessons that expose children to UU principles in a fun and creative way. Their excitement and energy is contagious; you can’t keep yourself from smiling at the beginning of class doing circle time and singing ‘Willaby Wallaby.’ My son, Russell, helps out in the class sometimes, and afterward he always talks about how much fun the kids are. It’s great to see a typically reserved teenager running around and having fun doing silly things.”
Leah Stanton, who teaches elementary grades, shares, “We have three generations involved in RE – my children, my husband and me, and my mother. I love this because it makes us all connected to RE – to nurturing not only our two children, but all the children. In addition to witnessing what our children are experiencing, we get to shape it and share it with them. We are also modeling for our kids how much we value RE because we all devote time and care to it. Personally, I consider teaching RE one of the most important parts of my own spiritual practice. The curriculum is rich with what I value and hold true – respect, justice, love, compassion and fun. Through creating and teaching RE lessons, I have the opportunity to examine and clarify my own beliefs, so that I can then speak clearly and passionately to my class.”
H.J. Cummins, Leah’s mom, tells us, “Teaching RE is one way to share my grandchildren’s connection to the congregation and to help all the children learn the values that UUs live by … it’s so nice to see them help one another and to ask ever-more-perceptive questions involving the lessons. I feel that the ties forming over these early years will long be precious to them.”
Laureen Branting has stayed with the same class for years and tells us that her model was Jackie Vergin, who “taught RE for all of [Laureen’s son] Conor’s classes up through 7th grade. He considered her an aunt, and I was always impressed with the gift she gave him. I wanted to give that same gift to another set of kids.” Laureen also confides, “I’d miss the kids too much to quit … and I do so enjoy watching them grow up to be young adults.”
Darryl Branting teaches Grade 8 OWL and although he says, “I teach OWL because I believe it is the most worthwhile thing I do – enabling these young kids to take control of their own sexuality and act on our UU values.” He also admits, “It’s just plain fun.”
Thank you to all of the teachers having “just plain fun” teaching in our RE program!