Friday, January 25, 2013


The Apopka Family Learning Center was born of the Justice and Peace Office, Inc., envisioned and founded as a social justice organization by Sister Teresa McElwee. She was often heard saying Pope Paul VI's famous quote, "If you want peace, work for justice."  

We continue to keep peace as a central focus today at our learning center. At the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, students were asked to complete the sentence "Peace is..."  A variety of answers were given.  One especially poignant one was a kindergartner's explanation.  He said, "The orange play dough on top is God. The smaller play dough below is His Son.  And that is me (on the right.)"

Peace and positive discipline are major focal points this year.  Students are "caught being good" every day, and whenever an adult walks into a classroom displaying a peaceful moment, a hand is added to the peace tree.  

"Peace is possible," as Mattie Stepanek would say.

For Christmas this year, we continued our focus on peace.  We were too late to get our ornaments turned in for Mattie's Peace Tree so we made our own at the center, and the Peace Tree project extended to Florida.  Every child in the center and the Souns® and Rhymes Family Literacy class decorated an ornament for the 2012 Peace Tree that was proudly displayed in our lobby. 

For this year's holiday performance, the children closed by singing, "Peace." 

We are also beginning to read some of Mattie Stepanek's poetry together at the center.  When a fifth grade student read some of his poetry, she said, "It's so amazing that a child actually could write poetry that could help he world be a better place and stop the bullying.  We could just be like a family all around the world, sharing, being all with each other."  

She went home so inspired that she came back to share a poem she had written at home. 

Help children recognize peace as a tangible concept and not an abstract idea using a lesson plan approved by Mattie's Foundation.     Exploring Peace through Heartsongs   

The current Education Director, Della Palacios, agrees with Mattie  that "Peace is possible."  


For more ideas on creating a more peaceful environment, visit our Pinterest Peace Board. 

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