New Greenville private school opening in Judson to educate underserved children
An effort to help educate underserved children during the pandemic has become the basis of a new school that will open in Judson this fall.
The Judson School will open in Greater Mount Calvary Baptist Church, serving 3K and 4K children, primarily living in the Judson community.
The dream is not to stop with Judson, but to start a network of schools across South Carolina that specifically serves underserved children, said Allan Sherer, founder of New Way Global, the nonprofit that raised funds for The Judson School.
Seventy-six percent of the children in Judson live in homes that are below the poverty line, Sherer said.
"Every one of those children, without exception, is made in the image of God. And every one of those children, without exception, is on earth for a reason, and have the capacity to succeed," Sherer said.
The Rev. Windell Rodgers, pastor of Greater Mount Calvary, said he believes that the school is "an answer to prayer that can impact positively the lives of children living in an area like Judson."
That was a hope when Sherer, pastor of Missions and Outreach at North Hills Church in Taylors, came up with the idea of creating 'pandemic pods' for underserved children.
He'd been reading newspaper articles about how affluent families were starting pandemic pods, "which basically meant they were hiring a teacher to educate their children," he said.
Pandemic pods were a good thing for those who had the ability to do that, Sherer said.
"But what really gripped my heart, because we've been very connected with education because of programs we do in my church, is what about the minority and low-income children?" Sherer said. "What about the families that don't have the resources to be able to do that? I said, 'What if we could start pods in Greenville's least served communities to serve these children who are going to be, in many cases, irreparably left behind?'"
The question became a reality with the creation of 10 learning pods during the 2020-2021 school year, in the program known as "Come Out Stronger (COS)."
It became a reality, he said, because people, community leaders, educators and businesses stepped forward.
Sherer said what happened with the insertion of the pods is something he's never experienced before — Black and white churches, business leaders and ministries coming together as they had for the sake of children.
Seeing the children flourish inspired the desire to keep the program going.
"We see the possibility of community-based schools with the goal of not just closing the learning gap, but flipping the script so that children who have the least opportunity now need to go to the front of the line and go to schools that are quite literally the most excellent and equitable schools in our state," Sherer said. "That's our dream."
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