Good Shepherd is a small, private, not for profit, elementary school which teaches grades 1-8 in the Catholic tradition. We've recently announced that we are adding a preschool to the mix beginning with the 2012-2013 school year.
This is a school started from the love of parents at a dinner table 10 years ago who believe this is their calling in life and the way that they are supposed to do the work of making the world a better place. The school has grown from 16 children to over 100 kids, managed to make it through all sorts of trials and tribulations, and they do wonderful, beautiful things with, and for, children. They teach conflict resolution. They love every kid, each one, for who they are and who they can become. They celebrate diversity in real ways, every day, all the time. This is a school South Bend needs - we are a model of how to care for children and connect to the community, we help attract high quality faculty to the area, and we role model peace.
Each class partners with a local farm, works on it throughout the year, and eats or sells a portion of their harvest. There’s sledding during recess in the winter. The kids work at Our Lady of the Road, a Catholic Worker Day Shelter. There’s a nutrition curriculum. Our junior high students run a micro-economy and learn financial literacy within a very unique and approach to junior high school. Their music program shows students how to do jazz improvisation on xylophones and art as a regular part of their learning. It’s truly a unique place where children can come into their own power to create. And they do this with the guiding partnership and care of the teachers at the school, a group of enthusiastic creators themselves.
Part of Good Shepherd’s mission is cooperative learning in a diverse environment. To that end, they’ve been generous with financial aid. They’ve worked with local funders to establish a program that gives 8 year scholarships to children from families transitioning from the Center for the Homeless into their own local homes. About 1 in 6 of Good Shepherd students are somewhere in the Asperger’s/Autism spectrum. They’ve worked with many families whose children weren’t “fitting” in traditional schools, who now find school to be a great place.
I believe very strongly that this school does incredible things for its students. The school recently bought the building that they have been housed in since their beginning. We are committed to being a real positive force for good in the South Bend community and the school has an amazing potential to become a local and even national example of success in education in a way that can help the ongoing debate about children’s education. Every year Good Shepherd is sending kids off to high school (soon college) with a different value set than we often hear about in the news these days. Community, solidarity, preferential treatment for the poor, and peaceful, sustainable living are all things children at Good Shepherd live and learn to value as they move on in life.