Erin Woods is the Director of Development at Notre Dame Urban Education Center in Covington, Kentucky.
Working at an SND-sponsored ministry has profoundly impacted my life. The opportunity to help others has given me a broader perspective about life. The Sisters of Notre Dame welcomed my family and me with open arms, indicating that we are a part of the broader SND family.
After six months of employment at Notre Dame Urban Education Center (NDUEC), I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Leading up to my bilateral mastectomy, Sr. Maria Therese Schappert, NDUEC Executive Director, asked if I wanted to attend Mass at the Heights and receive the Anointing of the Sick. Receiving this sacrament was something I would never have considered without her encouragement. Not only was that Mass particularly moving, but it touched my life in a way that I will cherish forever. NDUEC embodies unconditional faith in action, which is driven by SND Catholic heritage. The support and care I receive from my colleagues continue to be unparalleled.
NDUEC is unique because it is the only known program in the area to provide consistent, individualized tutoring, homework assistance, and skill-building to early learners, elementary and middle school-age children. NDUEC relies on 90+ volunteers who generously give their time and talents to help our children achieve.
Volunteer tutors spend a minimum of one hour working with each child providing homework assistance, reading support, and educational skill-building activities. The use of volunteers as tutors and mentors sets us apart. This focused and consistent, individualized tutoring relationship allows children to establish a healthy bond with an adult role model, often developing into a mutually beneficial mentoring relationship.
Families of the children attending NDUEC are also provided with support, life-skills training, and coaching to improve their children’s academic success more effectively. By promoting educational advancements and enhancing physical, mental, and social well-being, our students experience a measurable increase in grade promotion and visible signs of self-esteem. Furthermore, our programs give each child the personal academic success experience while reigniting their passion for learning.
The center plays a vital role in building healthy local communities by providing critical services that induce change. NDUEC is well known for serving the urban core of Northern Kentucky by offering collaborative programs that promote and support academic and value-oriented personal growth for children and their families.
Often, we are the voice of those we serve, and we are called to promote awareness of the educational disparities we encounter. For example, our Early Learning Program was created to boost kindergarten readiness because only 22.4% of Covington children are adequately prepared for kindergarten. NDUEC recognized a local need and then acted. Our programs play an essential role in creating a more equitable and prosperous community. They are specifically designed to extend our vision of awakening and supporting one’s passion for life-long learning.