School-Church Partnership: Meet & Greet Breakfast

School-Church Partnership: Meet & Greet Breakfast

Making a Collective Impact on St. Clair County Schools

On Wednesday, November 13th the HEALTHIER TOGETHER team and Education work group brought school and church leaders within the Belleville District 118 footprint together in hopes of fostering partnerships that would improve the learning environment for the more than 3,800 children within these schools.   HEALTHIER TOGETHER’s co-chair, Rob Dyer of First United Presbyterian Church hosted the event and supplied bagels and coffee for all in attendance. This groups long term goal is to partner every school with a local church to help support the schools greatest needs.  By getting support, the schools will be able to foster a safe and healthy learning environment for their students while providing them with their most basic needs. Many children within St. Clair County and the surrounding metro east area go without sufficient food, clean clothes, and school supplies, which puts them at a disadvantage in the class room.  Without these needs being met, children cannot focus on learning.


Rev. Rob Dyer and Tracy Gray leading discussion

HEALTHIER TOGETHER’s Rev. Rob Dyer and District 118’s Assistant Superintendent Tracy Gray leading a great discussion

During introductions, each of the attendees expressed one thing that excites them about a partnership, along with their greatest challenge in terms of that  partnership.  There was a lot of great discussion and valid points made. Participants talked about practical ways to address school needs that would create an environment in which children can effectively learn. One of the challenges that was expressed on both sides was that there is a cycle that needs to be broken in terms of poverty and need.  The hope of this School-Church Partnership is to help foster an understanding of how to overcome this and help to break this cycle in the lives of students and their families.  There was optimism and a sense of excitement about the future; and everyone agreed that these collective impact partnerships have the potential to improve the health and quality of life of the students, families and their communities.

When we have a partnership, it’s really nice to be able to say that we need something and have the need met. We really appreciate that.

—Tracy Gray

Each of the schools in attendance were asked to list their current needs that, if met, would help improve the overall health and learning potential of the school’s community.  There was a variety of practical needs expressed by school leaders - some of whom were principals of older schools with potential electrical compliance issues for items such as washers and dryers. Other items that were discussed were hygiene products that could be handed out, coats, clothing, pre-packaged snacks and even volunteers.  As the discussion continued, everyone agreed that these needs could be met if we all worked together.  Ms. Gray agreed to help facilitate the pairing of schools to churches that are close by to help them build their partnership so that these needs could be addressed.

The Meet & Greet breakfast fostered a successful discussion and created the start to much needed partnerships.  In time, the hope is that this will improve education and health outcomes for the District's 3,800 students.  Our hope for the future is that every school within the St. Clair County and the metro east area will one day partner with a local church to help foster and nurture all of the children within Southwest Illinois.

wish list of school needs

A wish list of school needs for the New Year.

When we have a partnership, it’s really nice to be able to say that we need something and have the need met. We really appreciate that.