Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch

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Sunday School Curriculum

Parables & Books has been commissioned to develop brand new material to be implemented in Syriac Orthodox Churches across America.

The journey to creating an innovative curriculum for the Syriac Orthodox Church has been a long one. After decades of efforts from many people, Parables & Books has been working diligently for the past year on a new unified Sunday school curriculum to be implemented by both the archdioceses of the East Coast and West Coast of America. This monumental endeavor marks the first time a curriculum of such magnitude will be produced.

In its final form, eight distinct grade levels will be available complete with student workbooks, teachers’ manuals and various supplemental materials including posters, additional activity/coloring pages and more.

Parables & Books has received tremendous help from volunteers that make up the Unified Sunday School Committee of the United States of America. Among the many volunteers, Ramona Malki, a representative from the East Coast, has been instrumental in spreading awareness and involving the parishes with the project. Patricia Allaf, West Coast representative, held a meeting in April of 2012 discussing the direction of the curriculum with teachers and clergy. After the meeting, Mrs. Allaf shared her thoughts. “[We received a] very positive response for the lessons. They liked the illustrations, images and format. I got a good response from the clergy as well.“

A true joint venture between both archdioceses, His Eminence Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim and His Eminence Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan have overseen the religious content with clergy from both dioceses ensuring that content is accurate and true to Syriac Orthodox tradition.

Over the course of the advancing grade levels, students will learn both Old Testament and New Testament scripture, various hymns and prayers of the Syriac Orthodox Church, saints, sacraments and many of the traditions and history specific to Orthodox faith.

The curriculum is truly unique to the Syriac Orthodox Church community as not only specific elements of the Faith are being implemented in the body of the curriculum, but also photos of children and adults from both dioceses are included in the pages of the student workbooks.

Another great aspect of the development and production of the curriculum is that the central team is made up largely of Syriac Orthodox members. Sandy Ghattas, founder and head publisher of Parables & Books, is an active member of the Syriac Orthodox community. Ms. Ghattas’ role in the development of this curriculum has been far-reaching as graphic and layout design have fallen largely on her shoulders.

Sara Candan is an experienced teacher and has been the hub of educational content. She has been responsible for adapting Bible stories and other crucial elements of each lesson. Mrs. Candan has also overseen the continued progress of teachers’ manual content instructing how to successfully teach each lesson. Matthew John Hadodo, editor-in-chief of Parables & Books, has contributed creatively for lessons in both the student workbooks and teachers’ manuals, as well as editing all content for the curriculum.

Parables & Books is developing the curriculum in a way that makes notable difference between age and grade levels. Kindergarten through third grade levels are illustrated and implement bible stories as central elements to each lesson. Kindergarten and first grade in particular, are heavily illustrated and have beautiful spreads designed by Steve Morris. Mr. Morris is an accomplished graphic designer who has experience in a variety of media. He has published his own full-length graphic novel in addition to having worked on the cover art for several Joss Whedon comic books including Serenity, Dollhouse and Angel. Mr. Morris’ unique talents have led to completely innovative images exclusively for the Sunday school curriculum.

Older grade levels will not showcase illustrations in favor of real life photographs. While the ultimate goal of the curriculum is to provide a religious education catered to the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, the intention is not to replace or impose on any individual church’s methodology, but to supplement it.

Parables & Books will maintain the ownership rights to the curriculum while the project is being developed. After completion, the rights will be transferred to the Church. Student workbooks, teachers’ manuals and various supplemental materials for kindergarten and first grade will be ready for implementation September 2012. Following grade levels are forthcoming.

A very special thanks are in order for Dr. Evelina Yunan and Mrs. Evelin Gelin whose very generous contributions combined with funding provided by The Archbishop Mor Athanaius Y. Samuel Trust Fund have been instrumental in the development of the first two grade levels of the curriculum.

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