Continuing to engage the community, the Killeen ISD superintendent and board president welcomed area faith leaders Monday to serve students and staff.
Superintendent John Craft, Board President Brett Williams and Community Relations Director Angenet Wilkerson met with 60-plus church leaders for breakfast and discussion at the Jackson Professional Learning Center.
Throughout the gathering, the school district leaders offered appreciation to pastors, identifying with the challenge of staying engaged through a two-year pandemic and resulting social dysfunction.
Emerging from school closure in 2020, virtual re-opening and a year of mixed virtual and face-to-face learning, Craft said educators face learning loss that is reality nationwide.
The effect of lost learning, he said, is most profound in areas of impoverishment.
In addition, the superintendent shared with pastors that KISD – like many school districts – has seen large numbers of retirement and attrition.
“Teachers are tired, and they need encouragement,” he said.
Much of the conversation, including pastor questions and comments, revolved around the need for revived parent engagement.
The school district has unveiled Pulse committees at every campus and at the district level to gather information and come up with ways to engage parents and schools.
Both Craft and Wilkerson shared the power of mentoring, giving examples of students turning their lives around when someone shows consistent care.
Gap-fillers is what Wilkerson said she calls pastors and other adults who volunteer their time to help students in need of encouragement or tutoring.
“We need you,” she said to the roomful of church leaders. “We are serving the same population and we need you as a partner.”
The KISD IMPACT mentor program provides four hours of training for background checked mentors.
Two pastors shared with their peers, positive experiences as school district mentors. They emphasized the importance of consistency and said the lives of mentors are positively changed just as the students’ lives are changed.
The school district provided resources to the pastors, including hardship assistance offerings for families, safety resources, academic support through the KISD Tutoring Center and free adult computer classes.
The Tutoring Center provides free academic assistance from KISD teachers to fourth- through 12th
-graders 5 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at JPLC, 902 Rev. R.A. Abercrombie Drive in Killeen. A virtual option is available.