Communities must wrap their arms around schools

Over the past 20 years, Eastern Star Church has tried to live out the social expression of our Christian faith. Our ministry calls us to meet not only the spiritual needs of people, but also to meet physical and fundamental needs that are essential to improving our neighbors’ quality of life.

This call led us to develop The ROCK Initiative, which seeks to enhance education opportunities, provide new housing options, increase financial security and develop a stronger sense of community for residents of the 46218 zip code.

While all of these components are essential to improving life in 46218, The ROCK Initiative’s impact on education has strengthened in recent years thanks to the leadership of Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee and our partnership with Arlington Woods School 99.

We know that the schools in our community do not have access to the same resources as schools in other communities, but we refuse to let a lack of resources be the reason why a child might not have access to the resources they need to reach their God-given potential.

For more than two decades, we’ve partnered with the leadership of IPS Arlington Woods School 99. Members of our congregation have tutored the school’s students. Most recently, we have raised significant funds to ensure that students have access to the technology they need to be successful in the 21st century and that teachers had the professional development they needed to help lead our children to success. 

Through our partnership with Arlington Woods 99, we’ve come to more deeply understand how important it is for communities to wrap their arms around their schools. 

Our schools determine the future of our communities, and because of this, we have a duty to contribute to the future of our schools.

We treasure our partnership with Arlington Woods 99’s Principal, Ms. Tihesha Henderson. Her love for and commitment to students and their families is unparalleled.

It’s because of leaders like Ms. Henderson that we support the district’s work to empower school leaders in neighborhoods across Indianapolis to lead Innovation Network Schools. In our neighborhood, we believe that empowering Ms. Henderson to lead an Innovation Network School at Arlington Woods 99 will amplify the power of our partnership and accelerate the progress needed to give our children the education they deserve.

Even with the progress we have made, I am reminded every day of how much work we have left to do in our city.

At Eastern Star Church, we will continue to work with our neighbors and partners to strengthen education in the 46218 zip code, but it is essential that citizens and organizations across Indianapolis do the same.   

Teachers and principals across IPS are working hard to ensure that students across our city have access to great schools. It is our collective responsibility to ensure these schools have the support and resources they need to succeed.

Indeed, all of us have the ability to help meet these needs. 

We can meet them by donating our time, our talent and our treasure to the schools in our communities. 

And we can meet them by lifting up our voices. Whether it be in school board elections, national elections or your school’s monthly parent association meeting, we all have the opportunity to be a voice for justice.


Pastor Jeffrey A. Johnson, Sr. is Senior Pastor of Eastern Star Church

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