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Working with children has always been my goal! An interview with Anna Rowe

Anna Rowe is in her second year as church school director at St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church in Van Nuys, California. The parish had 70 students enrolled in church school for the 2017-2018 school year.

Please share with us a little about yourself:

I love working with kids and helping them learn about Christ. I am from Kansas, and recently moved to sunny California! My favorite things to do in my new state are go to the beach and to hike the mountains. When I am not at the beach, hiking, or at church, I am teaching kindergarten.

Did you have previous training/experience that prepared you for the Director role?

I have a degree in education, and I am currently a teacher. Working with children has always been my goal! I was also a church school teacher at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas.

Are there books, resources, etc. that you would recommend to Directors for their own development/enrichment/training in the role of Director?

I really like the The Orthodox Church: 455 Questions and Answers book because it leaves so much room for discussion. I also love using Google Drive to keep everyone involved with church school in the loop about registration and attendance.

How is your church school organized for Sunday classes and how many teachers are assigned per class?

The Preschool-8th grade classes at St. Michael’s are grouped by two grades per classroom: preschool/kindergarten, 1st/2nd, 3rd/4th, 5th/6th, 7th/8th. Our 9th-12th students make up one high school class. Some classes have one teacher, while others have two or three.

Which curricula do you use for Sunday classes?

Preschool through 6th grade classes use “Living Our Orthodox Faith” books.

The 7th/8th grade class uses The Orthodox Faith, by Father Thomas Hopko. I pulled specific chapters and sections from these books that are age appropriate for this group.

The high school class (9th-12th grade) uses The Orthodox Church: 455 Questions and Answers, by Stanley S. Harakas.

Are there plans to develop/implement any new programs in the next church school year (2018-2019)? If so, please describe.

This year we launched a new attendance incentive program for the students. During the Christmas season, the students will earn a nativity set piece to start their own collection if they attend church school for a predetermined number of Sunday classes. It is a new program that the students are very excited about! We can’t wait for the next church school year to grow this program further.

To learn more about the books that Anna referenced during the interview, use the links below:

The Orthodox Church: 455 Questions and Answers, Stanley S. Harakas

The Orthodox Faith (Four Volume Set), Fr. Thomas Hopko

For information on the Living Our Faith series of textbooks, visit the Greek Archdiocese website.