Written by Ms. Phyllis Gray
A PARTNERSHIP OF SIGNIFICANCE FOR CHURCH AND SCHOOL
Gray receiving the 2023 state PTA Community Partner Award on behalf of St. Ambrose
Saint Ambrose Episcopal Church in Raleigh was awarded the North Carolina Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Community Service Award on April 1, 2023, at the organization’s annual meeting held in Greensboro, NC on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This award holds special meaning for the church as it was our long-term community partner Fuller Elementary School that nominated us and called us “their most significant community partner through the years.”
The Saint Ambrose and Fuller Elementary partnership was an easy one to establish since both institutions are located in the Rochester Heights neighborhood in Southeast Raleigh, Over the years, the church-school partnership was expanded by the 11th Rector of Saint Ambrose Episcopal Church, The Reverend R Jemonde Taylor resulting in the formation of a comprehensive outreach ministry known as One-Church-One School. This ministry now includes support for students, faculty, staff, and parents.
As always, support for the students at Fuller is central to the outreach ministry. Sometimes volunteers from Saint Ambrose judge school contests or tutor students needing a little help to “catch up.” And as has become customary, at the start of every school year, the church gives three or more large bins of school supplies to Fuller so no teacher is required to purchase school supplies for students in need.
At Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are extra efforts to meet the needs of parents. Every Thanksgiving, the church prepares and carries gift boxes filled with “Thanksgiving Day meal fixings” to the Fuller School for families identified by the administration as needing some help. And annually at Christmas, the church places a tree in the back of the sanctuary, and on the branches are names of Fuller students with their sizes and wishes for Christmas gifts. Never has there been a single child whose wish wasn’t fulfilled.
There has been a conscious effort to ask the Fuller administration what we might do to help teachers and staff. As a result, an annual Education Sunday is held with Fuller faculty in attendance during the service. Following worship, an open discussion is held with faculty to share insights about the needs in Southeast Raleigh.
Additionally, the Saint Ambrose grounds have often served as an annex parking place for teachers or parents when there are big school events. Our parish hall is always open to Fuller for student banquets, and our prayer garden and labyrinth are available to all faculty and staff for the end-of-day mediation needed after a tough day.
There are probably thousands of ways a church may be a good neighbor, do community outreach, or support a neighborhood school. For Saint Ambrose, all it took for our One-Church-One School Ministry to grow and become the significant community partner that Fuller says that we are was for the. Rev Taylor, the Rector of Saint Ambrose, and few church members to walk up the street to the neighbor school and ask what can we do to help you?
READ THE NOMINATION WRITTEN BY MR. WAYNE SHORE, SCIENCE TEACHER AT FULLER
Fuller Elementary would like to nominate our favorite and most significant community partner through the years, St. Ambrose Episcopal Church. Like Fuller, St. Ambrose is an anchor institution for the Rochester Heights neighborhood in southeast Raleigh. Our decades-long relationship began in the 1960s when the church moved to its present location and parishioners met at Fuller until construction was completed. Since that time our partnership, One Church, One School, has continued to thrive and grow.
One Church, One School takes many forms. St. Ambrose provides volunteers to judge school contests and prepares and serves food at school events. They have also tutored targeted students in need in a Saturday program developed jointly by school and church personnel. St. Ambrose members have donated school supplies and contributed to our library collection.
At Fuller’s new campus, construction design left the school woefully in need of parking space for our evening student performance events. St. Ambrose, which is a short walk across the street, stepped up and allowed teachers to park in its lot on days when there are designated evening performances. Student organizations have used their fellowship hall for banquets, and the church hosts an annual Education Sunday, when Fuller faculty members are invited to participate in worship and a fellowship roundtable. The roundtable allows community members to share their insights with the school, and it connects teachers who don’t live in the neighborhood with area families and their concerns.
There isn’t one person from St. Ambrose for this nomination; it is a community and functions accordingly. If there is a face for this community though, it is Pastor Jemonde Taylor. Father Taylor has led this congregation as long as this writer has been at Fuller. He works tirelessly on every aspect of our One Church, One School relationship. Additionally, he’s involved with numerous community organizations, including the Partners for Environmental Justice (PEJ) and an outgrowth group, Parks With Purpose (PWP). Affiliated with the adjacent Walnut Creek Wetlands Center, PWP secured a Conservation Fund grant, facilitating many improvements to the park. Some of these improvements, when completed, will allow easier Fuller student field trip access to the wetlands park and feature art installations recognizing important contributors to the Rochester Heights neighborhood, including our longest-tenured teacher, Lillian Currin, a Rochester Heights resident and St. Ambrose parishioner. Fuller students have participated — and even provided presentation leadership — in programming at the church that grew out of PWP planning. All of these opportunities would not exist without Pastor Taylor and the entire congregation at Fuller’s favorite community partner every year, St. Ambrose Episcopal Church.
Thanks for all you do.
Mr. Dennis Shore, Fuller Science Teacher