HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Prayers for a successful new school year.
“Please keep the students and the teachers safe this year,” exclaimed a man before a crowd of Hartford teachers, school administrators, district and city leaders.
Union Baptist Church of Hartford held a faith-based, back-to-school event Sunday afternoon.
UBCH hosted the service in partnership with several faith organizations in Greater Hartford.
The Pastor of Union Baptist is urging Hartford-area members of faith to do more than pray for a successful school year. He’s calling for more of them to volunteer and provide teachers with additional resources that will lead to student success.
“We will back up our prayers with action. We will not only pray today but we will issue a call to action to people of faith to go into schools and begin to volunteer and serve.
I believe that if we do our part as a community, then the teaching and learning teachers must do to raise the standard can happen.”– Pastor Trevor Beaufort
UBCH also used the event as an opportunity to collect backpacks and school supplies for students of Hartford public schools returning to class on Tuesday.
“It brings me fulfillment because there are things children need and hopefully we will add to their success,” said Patricia Shirley, who donated a stack of backpacks.
Hartford is Connecticut’s largest public school district, serving more than 20,000 students.
That large size brings concerns.
“What we know for sure is Hartford faces tremendous difficulties,” said Pastor Beaufort. “We know our literacy rates are not quite what they need to be. We know our graduation rates are not quite where they need to be. We know we are a district that has lots of resources but sometimes not enough resources in order to do things we’re supposed to do.”
The superintendent of Hartford Public Schools says the service and dedication of the faith-based community energizes her.
“I am empowered,” said Dr. Leslie Torres Rodriguez. “I am thrilled and I am hopeful.”
So is Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin.
“This is a beautiful event when our faith leaders, our school administrators, and staff and teachers and our elected officials gather together just a few days before school starts to reaffirm our commitment to our kids,” he said.