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Interview with Sammye Fuller: Supporting Sunday School as a Teacher, Then as Director

Sammye Fuller is in her seventh year as Sunday School Director at Holy Trinity Antiochian Orthodox Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. The parish has 25 students enrolled for the 2018-2019 school year.

Please share with us a little about yourself.

Technically, I have been the Sunday School Director for about seven years. However, since we did not have a Director before that, and I was the only Sunday School teacher in the beginning, perhaps it has been longer.

We have four classes. The preschool class is for 2-ish to 5 years old, with one teacher and one or more helpers when available. Parents often stay if needed. The elementary class is 6-9 years old. There is one teacher and usually one helper, sometimes two. The middle school group is 10-12 years old. This class has one teacher. A helper can be added if needed for any class. The high school class is 13-17 years old. However, having so few children in this age group, it meets every other week and has two teachers that share the teaching.

Which curricula do you use for Sunday classes?

Our preschool teacher has material she has collected and created that is used in a three-year cycle: Old Testament, New Testament, and Feasts and Saints. The elementary and middle school classes use Living Our Orthodox Faith. The high school class uses material researched by the two teachers. Additionally, the three older classes meet for 10 minutes at the beginning of class to learn the books of the Bible in preparation for learning to do “sword drills”. We find that quite a few of our children do not make it on time, so we looked for something to do while we gave them a few extra minutes before starting the lesson.

How do you keep teen/SOYO students involved and engaged in Sunday school?

This is a very tricky subject. As a small church, we don't always have children of every age, thus the blended classes. In the years we have had Sunday School, our teenage population has been small, sometimes as few as one. Recruiting teachers is not easy, so using a teacher for one or two students has been a difficult choice. And, the older children don't always want to be added to a younger class. This year we were able to offer a class every other week for our teenagers. They are currently studying the Ecumenical Councils. They will also look at contemporary heresies. The subject matter seems to interest them, and they use smart phones to find information related to the topic during class.

Do you hold staff meetings? If so, how often and please briefly describe the meetings.

No, more email and quick visits at Coffee Hour.

Please share with us about your Christmas program (past and/or present).

The Christmas program is usually a traditional telling of the Nativity, presented by the preschool class during coffee hour. Some years, the older children have taken part.