About our Director of Christian Education, Irene Smith
Irene was born and raised in the DC area. She was baptized, confirmed and called to serve as a deacon at Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church. She is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and the University of Houston Law School. Upon graduation, she returned home to Maryland to practice law. She worked as an attorney in the areas of domestic violence, community building and mental health rights. Her most recent career has been as an adjunct college professor and teacher at the middle school and high school level. She has taught everything from Africana Studies to Public Speaking from Government to Geography.
Irene brings a wealth of experience working with children, community building, and public service. She is passionate about environmentalism, racial and gender justice, and gun violence prevention. Her motto is “teamwork makes the dream work.”
Irene is the very proud mother of 3 beautiful, smart, and empowered daughters. Bella is a sophomore visual artist at the Baltimore School for the Arts. Maya is soon to graduate from 8th grade at Saint Francis of Assisi School and is heading to Baltimore City College. Violet is currently a 7th grader at Saint Francis of Assisi. They enjoy camping, community service, and creative projects.
About Education Programs At RPPC
At Roland Park, being a smaller congregation affords us the opportunity to be flexible- to be unafraid to try new things, to stretch ourselves to the limits of our imaginations. Our Sunday School program strives to address the learning and formation of all of our members in fresh ways.
On a typical Sunday morning, we hold an Education for All ages hour from 9-10am. During this time we break into groups by age. There are classes for nursery age, primary age (grades k-2), elementary age (grades 3-5), middle school and upper school ages, as well as an adult education class. Our students’ curricula centers around following the same narrative lectionary that we are following in worship, with developmentally appropriate lessons for each age specifically prepared for our congregation by an experienced educator and pastor. Throughout their classes, the children will experience God’s story through many channels: story, music, activity and service.
We then gather for worship at 10:30am as one congregation, all ages together. We strive to make worship meaningful for all in attendance. Often, we include interactive worship stations for the whole congregation, as a way to actively engage different types of learners in worship. During the service, there may be a “Time For All God’s Children”, when the youngest among us are invited forward for a special talk about the day’s theme or the scripture reading. After this time, students from Kindergarten to 2nd Grade briefly leave the sanctuary and are given their own age-appropriate way to experience God and learn about the purpose of worship. Other children are invited to choose a worship aid (which include coloring materials, special puzzles and games relating to the day, “fidgets”- things to keep hands busy so minds can be open and focused, art supplies, storybooks, and Children’s Bibles) to take back to their seats. We believe that the best way for youngsters to find their place in church is through worshiping with their church family.
On the first Sunday of each month, we break from our typical routine and hold a lunch and learn educational program after worship rather than the Education for All Ages hour before worship. These intergenerational gatherings feature food and fellowship which strengthens our bond as a congregation as we learn.
Throughout the year, we offer many different programs to help young people on their faith journeys. Some of these are:
- First Sundays lunch and learn spiritual formation speaker series for all ages focusing on lessons that apply to our daily lives
- Bridge to Worship program- Students from Kindergarten to 2nd Grade are given their own age-appropriate way to experience God and learn about the purpose of worship, during the Sunday service
- Occasional weeknight programs designed to draw family units together through spirituality centers, prayer, and study
- Confirmation Class, for pre-teens and teenagers
- Mission and service projects
- Ecumenical Events with other area churches
- Worship leadership training and liturgy writing workshops
We also offer programs for all ages, including:
At RPPC, our focus is on the formation of our members and friends, no matter where they’ve come from, where they’re going, their age, size, shape, or style. We delight in meeting everyone where they are, and sharing our gifts as we learn what gifts they have to share. If you would like more information about our Formation Programs, please contact Pastor Mark Hanna at firstname.lastname@example.org.