What is the Cooperative Model?
STM SPARK (formerly “Religious Education”) is now a cooperative program that requires parent involvement in ways that accompany and support children and catechists.
One adult from each registered family will serve two volunteer shifts per registered child over the calendar year. One of those volunteer shifts will be as a Small Group Leader. Parents will serve a second shift as a Section Parent or Administrative Assistant.
What is expected of each volunteer capacity?
- Small Group Leader: Each SPARK grade is broken into sections—A, B, or C. Each section is comprised of 12 children and two catechists. When a section gathers, we’ll split the children into small groups of 4; each small group will be led by a catechist or parent volunteer (Small Group Leader). Put simply, SPARK grade sections will function much in the same ways Girl Scout/Cub Scout meetings do—with adult leaders and small groups of children in dialogue!
- Section Parent: Each SPARK Section Parent is invited to plan and execute Christmas, Easter, and some Feast Day (TBD) parties for their grade section (12 children), providing food, drink, and an activity. Four families will work together to plan and execute section parties.
- Administrative Assistant: SPARK Administrative Assistants are invited to volunteer in several ways: They may print color pages or lesson plans for their section. They may donate materials such as markers, crayons, drawing paper, safety scissors, or poster board. They may provide logistical support for first reconciliation/eucharist.
What do we hope to achieve with this model? Our primary concern is to invite children to become aware of God’s activity in our lives and introduce them to all the ways they might walk alongside Jesus. Adding other voices and faith stories to our mix of catechists will help us reimagine faith formation as relationships, and not as classroom experience broken up by free-standing events. We embrace the sort of person-to-person witness and accompaniment that Pope Francis’ Christus Vivit and Scripture encourages.
How can you help? We’re in need of catechists. Remember: all lessons are generated for you; catechists are not expected to have any teaching experience or a degree in theology. This is no different than talking with your children about your faith. The more we listen to children, get to know them, and respond to human ways the better we serve them.