By Amie Sites Pharos-Tribune
---- — Since she was named the new Weekday Religious Education coordinator, Joyce Leach has been busy — but she describes it as a good busy.
Leach took over Aug. 1 and has been working to get things in place before schools began.
Leach, a Pennsylvania native, came to Indiana in 1978 and relocated to Royal Center in 2001. It is there she began working with adults with disabilities and after that private elderly care. Although she was introduced to WRE seven years ago, her tenure started five years ago when she accepted a position to teach a third-grade program at Logansport schools.
After Logansport discontinued the program four years ago, she remained on the board as a director and most recently was board secretary. Leach noted she is looking forward to picking up dialogue with Logansport schools about the possibility of getting the program back.
Leach said she has been busy connecting with school principals to set up class schedules; making sure the equipment on the bus is working; purchasing the necessary supplies for the bus and doing research to become familiar with the “released time” concept and state laws, which provide a way for religious education to take place in public schools during the school day.
There are 16 seats on the bus with desks and two students can fit at each desk. The bus is equipped with supplies and a handicap lift.
Leach has learned about the program with the help of former coordinator, Wendell Propes, who is continuing on the WRE board of directors. Propes, who was coordinator for about five years, said working with Leach has been great.
“She’s very easy to work with and has a high energy level,” Propes said. “She has a passion for anything Christian and her heart is out there for the kids.”
There are 30-minute classes for fourth graders and four- to six- week programs for third graders. There are programs at Galveston, Caston, Pioneer and Thompson elementary schools.
The first classes begin Aug. 26 at Caston and Pioneer. Permission slips will be going out to students this week to be signed and returned in order for students to attend WRE classes.
Leach said the board envisions the WRE program to be supporting what is already happening in the classroom and bringing it to a biblical standpoint and encouraging morals.
The program includes history, reading, writing, drawing and character building, Leach said. The release time has proven to be beneficial, she added.
“One of the big issues we’ve heard from time to time is the academic scores need to be up, yet at the same time, studies are finding students participating in the time release program aren’t missing out,” Leach said. “They haven’t showed decreased test scores.”
The WRE program is voluntary and supplies and materials are provided free of cost. In the second semester, fourth graders who attend the program receive a New Testament.
There is a WRE fundraiser coming up Sept. 25 at McHale Complex at Riverside Park. The Hap’s chicken bash will be 4:30 to 7 p.m. and tickets are $8.50 for adults and $4 for children ages 8 and under. For more information, email Leach at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or email@example.com.
If you go: WHAT: Weekday Religious Education Hap's chicken bash WHEN: 4:30 to 7 p.m. Sept. 25 WHERE: McHale Complex at Riverside Park COST: $8.50 for adults and $4 for children ages 8 and under. INFO: Tickets are available from Steve Farrer at 574-643-9472 or Joyce Leach at 574-753-4596 or 574-870-1640