Logan Ralston has shelves and shelves of colorful children’s books to choose from for a bedtime story.
Yet over and over again he chooses one: a children’s Bible.
From his preschool days at St. Bonaventure School in Columbus, the 7-year-old has been fascinated by the scriptures.
His parents, Joe and Sarah Wacha, were amazed at the questions he asks and the level of conversation the first-grader participates in.
“He gives me all of these details,” said Sarah Wacha, “and it challenges my own knowledge of the Bible, which is good, what we need as Catholics.”
Wacha thanks Logan’s preschool teacher Cheryl Drozd for igniting her interest in the scriptures, an interest that has not abated nearly two years later.
Drozd (which rhymes with “rose,” as she tells her preschool students) has learned in her own life how reading the Bible and praying with it can help a person in any situation.
She begins her preschool classes by reading and discussing the scriptures with the children. Drozd formalized his methods from these experiences and developed a Bible study program for each grade from Kindergarten to Grade 6. It is called âAt school with Jesusâ.
Two years ago, the material was used in a pilot program in St. Bonaventure, in which teachers, parents and students provided feedback to Drozd. Several priests in the Archdiocese have gone through the program and given their approval and support before it was released last year and used in other schools.
This year, teachers at 31 schools in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri are using the program to make Bible reading a regular start to their students’ day.
At each grade level, students focus on a book of the Bible, dividing it into a story or a few verses each week to read, reread, meditate, and journal, with the younger ones drawing pictures instead of writing.
The parts of the Bible that are studied meet the religious standards set for Archdiocesan schools, said Vickie Kauffold, superintendent of Catholic schools. Drozd presented his program to other educators across the archdiocese at a Zoom meeting during the pandemic.
Drozd spent a lot of time praying throughout the process of developing the program and its self-publishing. And it shows, said Cheryl Zoucha, director of Saint-Bonaventure.
“I recognized from the start that the Holy Spirit was working in her, and sometimes we just have to step aside,” Zoucha said.
Drozd “kept coming back to the importance of the scriptures and that children should have a good understanding of them,” said the director. “She wanted them to learn and take home and share what they learned.”
Drozd and her husband, Joe, are members of St. Isidore Parish in Columbus and parents of young adult children: Natalie, 22; Cameron, 20; and Ben, 17.
CONNECT WITH GOD
The teacher said she personally felt the importance of connecting with God through the scriptures when she was going through trials in her life, including attending college while raising children and working full time. as a caretaker.
âI chose to turn to God and ask for help,â Drozd said. âI learned how the Bible teaches us everything we need to know. He teaches us how to give everything to God and how to turn to him for everything. So that’s what I started to do with my life.
This relationship with the Lord is something that she wanted others to have as well.
âI wanted to be able to help others know how to trust God and love God through the difficult things in life. When you experience it yourself, you want to help others have the same experience as you have. â¦ So that’s what I’m doing right now, just by sharing the love that I received from Jesus. I want everyone to have this in their hearts.
START OF THE DAY
The courses in Drozd’s program are intended to start a student’s day off right. They are brief and take five to 15 minutes to complete.
âI really like to start the day with the word of God,â said Jill Erickson, teacher at St. Bonaventure. âI just think that sets the tone for the rest of the day.
âI like the way the program covers a different section of the Bible at each grade level,â said Erickson, who has taught third and fourth graders at St. Bonaventure. âIt goes further. We do Lectio Divina (meditative and prayerful reading) with it. It really gets kids thinking about how the Bible applies to their lives.
âIt makes for a good conversation,â she said, âand it helps them understand the importance of our faith. “
âIt helped my family,â improving their prayer together, said Erickson, wife and mother of four, ages 4 to 11.
STRONG AND EXCITING
The series of programs begins with the Book of Genesis in kindergarten and continues with 1 Samuel in kindergarten, Esther in first grade and in each successive year with Jeremiah, Jonah, the Gospel of Mark and the letters of Saint Paul to the Ephesians and the Hebrews.
When Logan comes home from school, he talks about what he has learned, his mother said, and relates the Bible stories “to the social situations he finds himself in.” And for a 5, 6, 7 year old to do that, I feel like it’s a testament to the strength of the program.
âAnd the excitement,â Wacha said. âShe (Drozd) put this love of reading the Bible into their hearts.
“She brought it in, so we (the parents) can take the ball and roll with it.”
HELPING THE PARENTS
Last Easter, Logan became more interested in the passion and resurrection of Christ, noticing details of the Stations of the Cross at church, Wacha said.
“As a parent, it’s pretty amazing because then it allows us to have real conversations about who Christ is and what his experiences have been – and in a meaningful way for a kindergarten child.”
These conversations have been of huge benefit to her and her husband, said Wacha, âbecause as a parent it can be overwhelming. How do you even start these conversations? How do you even approach the Bible with a 5 or 6 year old? “
âWhen Logan starts asking the questions, it forces us, in a good way, to go back and familiarize ourselves with the story again and find a child-friendly way of explaining,â the said. mother.
âIt helps us think about it as it relates to our own life. It’s a good reflection for us. The questions are always so innocent, but sometimes they land heavily. Like the story of the crucifixion, with Logan just asking factual questions. Yes, these things really happened. Jesus really did this for us. It’s a great opportunity for us as adults to reflect.
WHAT WE NEED
Zoucha said she encouraged schools that wish to incorporate more scriptures into their teaching to take a look at âGo to school with Jesusâ. Information can be found at inschoolwithJesus.com.
As a parent, Wacha highly recommends the program.
âI feel like we are building a foundation for them to be lifelong Bible readers, and I feel like this is something we need,â she said. .
âWhen you think about sending your kids to a Catholic school, that’s what you hope they get. “