St. John Chrysostom teaches: “This, then, is our task: To educate ourselves and our children in godliness.” Indeed, one cannot speak of the future of the Church without addressing education. On Saturday, October 20, 2007, seminarians and their wives participated in a comprehensive Teacher Training Workshop presented by the Orthodox Christian Education Commission (OCEC), the education agency of SCOBA. Carrying on a fifty-year legacy of training, equipping, and connecting educators and future educators (lay and clergy) within the Orthodox Church, this year’s conference provided an excellent opportunity for all present to tap into the wealth of educational resources, participate in practical workshops, and learn firsthand from experts in their field.
This year’s presenters were Fr. George Alberts, Regional Coordinator, Department of Christian Education, Antiochian Archdiocese, OCEC Board Secretary and Teacher Trainer, Khouria Carol Alberts, Antiochian Dept of Christian Education, OCEC Teacher Trainer, Khouria Anna Hughes, OCEC Teacher Trainer, New England Regional Coordinator, Department of Christian Education, Antiochian Archdiocese, Matushka Myra Kovalak, Chair, OCEC Teacher Training Dept., OCA Dept. of Christian Education, Maria Proch, OCA, Department of Christian Education, Chair, Dept. of Christian Ed., Diocese of Eastern PA, OCEC Teacher Trainer, and Matthew Hatrak, Dept. of Christian Education, Diocese of Eastern PA, OCEC Teacher Trainer.
The workshop continued the program begun two years ago at the last OCEC Conference at St. Tikhon’s. Third year seminarians and wives, having attended the previous workshop participated in the Teacher Training II Program. This program delved deeper into specific issues faced by teachers, including secularism and special needs children. It also gave seminarians and wives who had experience in the “field” the chance to share their experiences. The three sessions focused on “Enriching the Classroom Experience”, “Moral Issues”, and “Utilizing Arts and Crafts”. First and second year students and wives attended the Teacher Training I Program. This program served as an introduction to Orthodox education. Workshops ranged from seminar-style lectures on the basic principles of Orthodox education, chances to learn about and peruse the print and electronic resources available, and “hands on” skills training on such important tasks as creating a successful lesson plan. The three sessions were “Overview of Orthodoxy”, “Introduction to Teaching” and “Curriculum and Resources”.
By the end of the day-long workshop, all participants had earned OCEC certification in the level of training they received. They also left better equipped to heed the call of St. John Chrysostom: to place the education of the future of the Church among the highest priorities of parish life.
By Joel Weir, 2nd Year Seminarian, OCA Diocese of the Midwest