Raising a village: Education beyond academics

The Dallas Examiner | 3/3/2014, 9:43 a.m.

The Dallas Examiner

On Saturday, St. Philip’s School and Community Center presented It’s a Wonderful Life at The Black Academy of Arts and Letters. The play was performed by the students about a man who has devoted his life “just because” – Dr. Terry J. Flowers, the school’s headmaster and executive director.

The annual Black history celebration was a tribute to Flowers, recognizing his life through scenes written by the faculty he inspires every day and acted out by the students he loves. The children worked hard to learn the facts about his life and work so they could bring the story of Flowers to life. They learned it is important for us to know our history – the sacrifices and struggles, along with the lessons learned by leaders who believe African American children are worthy of a quality education and experiences often ignored because of the color of our skin.

Flowers’ story is an inspiration, not just to St. Phillip’s, but also to the Dallas community. His work demonstrates that African American children can learn and excel in academics when teachers, educators and families work together in the best interest of the children.

St. Phillip’s is truly a family. The teachers, administrators, parents, grandparents and the community work together to offer the children, and their families, a well-rounded experience. The school is known for its academic excellence. However, not everyone may be aware of the full impact of its efforts. Along with a good education and lessons about our history, it provides a spiritual foundation, lessons on social skills, confidence and self-esteem building.

The school involves the total family in the education of the children. It hosts Grandparents’ Day programs that include a special chapel service and a lunch day when grandparents are invited to have lunch with their grandchildren.

The school also reaches out to the community through various programs.

The school campus houses a MyChildren’s Medical Clinic available to its students and children throughout the community.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the school provides a community afterschool program. During the program, students receive help with homework. They also take part in creative activities to build their visual and written art skills, and participate in positive communication exercises.

It hosts a Destiny Awards Luncheon and a Lecture Series, bringing in leaders who have overcome unimaginable obstacles.

Programs like Boy’s Night Out and Girl’s Night Out offer youth between the ages 8 through 14 an opportunity of brotherhood or sisterhood bonding, as well as participating in activities that promote self-esteem, self-respect, pride, a positive self-image, self-discipline and responsibility.

The school also offers College Bound for high school students, to help prepare the teens for college entry tests and essay writing, as well as math tutoring, note taking, time management and organizational skills. The time is also spent going over financial aid, scholarships and touring campuses. Parents are also part of the sessions, receiving tips on helping their child prepare and succeed in college.

There are many community organizations and St. Philip’s alumni that partner with the school to provide a variety of services, such as its mentoring program.

Because the community has so many needs that go beyond education, St. Philip’s additionally provides a free legal clinic and notary services once a month. It provides dinner three days a week for children 17 years old and under through its Kid’s Café. It also offers a Food Pantry for families struggling to put food on the table.

Even seniors are special to St. Philip’s. It offers transportation to computer classes, art and pottery activities for older individuals. It also offers health seminars and financial literacy workshops. Each year, the school honors the many past and present contributions of seniors during a Fancy Hat Tea Party.

There are many ongoing programs that St. Philip’s hosts for its students, their families and the community that have helped to grow a better community and improve the lives of individuals throughout Dallas. And it all began in 1983 with one man’s mission; knowing that it takes a community to raise a child, Flowers led the school in uplifting and strengthening the community so that it in return would be good leaders and providers for its children.

Become part of the conversation. Send your letters to mbelt@dallasexaminer.com.