The journey to creating an innovative curriculum for the Syriac Orthodox Church has been a long one. In its final form, eight distinct grade levels (kindergarten through seventh) 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. 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.
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.
Nadine Cauthen has stepped up tremendously as assistant publisher, helping out in various aspects of development. Two interns, Dang-Nam Vu and Jennifer Ballash, also have lent their talents to graphic design and proofing, respectively.
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.
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.
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.