Summit brings faith leaders together to help students succeed

Partnership program ‘unique’ to area

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MILTON, Ga. – Faith leaders from throughout Fulton County gathered May 1 at Stonecreek Church in Milton to discuss ways to develop and nurture partnerships between schools and the faith community.

The third annual Faith Summit coincided with the National Day of Prayer and the start of Mental Health Awareness Month. The half-day session drew more than 150 people from the faith community, mental health, school system staff and business and community leaders.

The question posed to the attendees was, “What is the one thing you can to do help students strive?” The answers were provided by the dozens of groups present at the meeting who discussed their involvements in their local schools and the relationships they developed.

Attendees included representatives from Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, North Point Community Church, Temple Kehillat Chaim, the Jewish Student Union, Roswell Community Masjid, the YMCA, Archdioceses of Atlanta and dozens of other organizations and faith centers.

The faith outreach program was started three years ago by Fulton Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa who brought the concept from his previous employer in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Faith Summit is unique to the Fulton School System.

“Our faith houses – churches, synagogues and others, for example – offer unique ways to reach families within our community. They often can break the barriers that our teachers or adults in the schools can’t,” said Avossa. “It’s a natural connection for us to come together with our faith leaders and explore how we can work together to help students. [At the end of the day] I expect that we’ll have some new ideas to explore.”

The forum included keynote addresses, along with several breakout sessions to explore topics at a greater depth. Those included sex trafficking of minors in Fulton County, developing strategic partnerships, an overview of social work and counseling programs in the Fulton School System and how the “Trusted Adult” program in the school system can be expanded to the faith community.

Fulton School Board member Katie Reeves, who attended the faith summit, was encouraged by the turnout and commitment from the faith-based community.

“It’s my hope that the partnerships we develop will continue to grow and that this event will become a mainstay of our community that we can count on,” said Reeves.

MH 05-07-14