Texas Baptists promote educational initiatives for Sept. 18 giving day


DALLAS -Texas Baptists are taking part in North Texas Giving Day on Sept. 18 by highlighting two initiatives in the North Texas community. Funds given toward the Baptist General Convention of Texas will help build an outdoor classroom at Truett Elementary School in Dallas and a new Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) building at the University of North Texas (UNT) in Denton.

As stated on northtexasgivingday.org, "North Texas Giving Day is an online giving event that provides nonprofits opportunity to gain expose to—and start relationships with—new donors, and for people in North Texas to come together to raise as much money as possible for local nonprofits."

The goal for each project is $100,000, making a total of $200,000. A donor has generously offered to match the first $10,000 in undesignated gifts.

Outdoor Classroom at Truett Elementary School

George W. Truett Elementary School, located in northeast Dallas, has a diverse student body comprising of mostly refugee children from over 10 countries with 14 different languages spoken. Ninety-seven percent of students are minorities, and many come from underprivileged families.

Texas Baptists and surrounding churches are partnering with Truett Elementary to bring a unique change of pace to these children's school experience with the construction of an outdoor classroom.

The vision is to have a place where classroom instruction can take place outside in a more natural environment, said Michelle Sparks, community liaison for Truett Elementary.

"We'll be able to use environmental factors such as the grass and the sun to explain different information that may be about nature and science," she said.

Designs for the outdoor classroom include a large 10-foot tall awning, a handicap accessible walkway leading to and from a beautiful oak tree which will be the central focus, garden beds for children to interact with and wheelchair accessible picnic tables all in the school courtyard.

"Our students need to know that learning can take place anywhere and it's okay to think outside the box," said Terre Evans, principal of Truett Elementary. "A classroom can sometimes feel like a restricting environment. Having an outdoor classroom can give students the opportunity to relax and learn in a carefree environment."

New BSM building at the University of North Texas

Built in 1960, the existing 7,200 square foot BSM building at UNT was built to reach a campus of 6,500 students. Now, 50 years later, the student body has reached over 36,000 and the ministry is growing.

"We have been very thankful for our current building," said Stephanie Gates, director of the UNT BSM. "As our ministry grows, we want to continue the legacy of BSM by putting a building in place that can stand another 50 years and be a part of God's story on our campus."

The conceptual plan for the new building is approximately 10,000 square feet and will incorporate energy efficiencies to make future operational costs affordable. It will meet the needs of the ministry with a larger gathering area, small group meeting rooms, a recreation area, a media room and an outdoor patio.

The UNT BSM offers a weekly free lunch, a variety of Bible studies and ministries, and worship sessions all intended to share the Gospel and encourage spiritual growth amongst the campus community.

Donations for North Texas Giving Day will be accepted between 6 a.m. and midnight on Sept. 18. For more information about giving to the Baptist General Convention of Texas on that day, visit texasbaptists.org/ntgd or e-mail jay.netherton@texasbaptists.org.

Media Contacts:

Jay Netherton, office 214-828-5126

Leah Allen, office 214-828-5227

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