Beyond the classroom

New initiative helps students learn while serving others

January 24, 2022 | Be Informed

Global Classmates, Unbound’s new outreach to Catholic schools, provides a way for students to learn about the realities of poverty and grow in compassion for others through sponsoring children in need.

The concept of Global Classmates is simple. A class sponsors a child through Unbound and, like other Unbound sponsors, develops a relationship with that child through correspondence. The difference with Global Classmates is that there’s also an intentional learning and faith formation dimension in the principles of Catholic social teaching:

  • • Respecting the dignity of all people
  • • Loving our neighbors wherever they may be
  • • Prioritizing the needs of the poor and vulnerable
  • • Growing in community and solidary with others

To help support the students’ learning process, Unbound has developed resources that teachers can use with their classes. They include fact sheets, activities, puzzles, games, videos and prayers, as well as suggestions for how to use them. New resources will be added as they’re developed. They’re free and available to anyone at unbound.org/educationalresources.

Kimberly Klein, a member of Unbound’s parish outreach team and a former Catholic school teacher, spearheads the Global Classmates program. She said the idea began to develop after a 2019 visit to St. John the Evangelist Parish in Seattle, Washington, by Unbound preacher Father John Gillespie, and a conversation with school principal Bernadette O’Leary.

“Principal O'Leary said their school's community outreach is to the homeless and their global outreach would be to their Unbound sponsored friends,” Klein said. “I believe they first started referring to them as ‘global classmates.’ I just started thinking about how Unbound can support schools with our global view of service to others.”

One

Students at John Paul II School in Overland Park, Kansas, (from left) Cameron Bristow, Ashley Ramos and Justice Brown, take part in the opening procession at an all-school Mass in January 2022 at Queen of the Holy Rosary Church. The students are carrying photos of children their classes sponsor through Unbound’s Global Classmates program.

making the world smaller


Inspiration for the program also came from St. Joan of Arc School in Toledo, Ohio. Jenna Shinaberry is a kindergarten teacher at St. Joan Arc. She introduced classroom sponsorship to the school six years ago, and classes have been sponsoring children all that time.

“It was a way to make the world a smaller place for them,” Shinaberry said. “Our understanding of poverty is minimal for a lot of our kids.”

Klein visited St. Joan of Arc in 2019. The occasion was an already scheduled parish visit by Unbound preacher Father Jerry Morgan, but it was also an opportunity to observe the school’s dynamic sponsorship outreach. During the visit, Father Morgan was invited to meet with classes and help the students better understand how their efforts were supporting the Church’s social mission.

The visit to St. Joan of Arc demonstrated the benefits of connecting a parish visit with school outreach. Klein is now working to replicate that approach in other Catholic communities. One is Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish in Overland Park, Kansas, where Unbound preacher Father George Knab celebrated an all-school Mass on Jan. 14. In his homily, Father Knab affirmed the students of St. John Paul II School for their commitment.

“Unbound is proud of your school because you have joined together to sponsor three children among the very poor,” he said. “Sponsorship, as you know, provides benefits that make a real difference in the lives of sponsored persons, like good nutrition, basic health care, clothing, family assistance and for the children, an education that can be for them a path out of poverty.”

One

Father George Knab, a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate and a preacher for Unbound, speaks to students from John Paul II School at an all-school Mass at Queen of the Holy Rosary Church in Overland Park, Kansas. Father Knab visited the parish on behalf of Unbound in January 2022.

an opportunity for the parish


In addition to their benefits for students, the classroom sponsorships offer an opportunity for the parish to become more engaged in the mission of Catholic education and their parish school. Parishioners can help finance the costs of sponsorship for the school by becoming “angel donors” or supporting school fundraising efforts. And, of course, they can always participate in the life of the Unbound community as individuals and families by sponsoring children, youth and elders.

For more information about Global Classmates, visit unbound.org/schools, email [email protected] or call 800-466-7672.

Unbound is proud of your school because you have joined together to sponsor three children among the very poor. Sponsorship, as you know, provides benefits that make a real difference in the lives of sponsored persons, like good nutrition, basic health care, clothing, family assistance and for the children, an education that can be for them a path out of poverty.

— Father George Knab, Preacher for Unbound


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