Christian Education Opportunities

Our staff and volunteers who work with children (infants through High School) have been screened and cleared through state processes as part of our Safe Sanctuaries policy to provide a safe environment for our members and visitors alike.

Nursery

For children newborn to walkers (approximately 1 year old).   Teachers - Liz & Mike Dillard and Stella & Patrick Walmer.   Located next to (and connected to) the Sanctuary.

Toddlers

For children walkers up to age three.  Teachers - Liz & Mike Dillard and Patrick & Stella Walmer. Located the second door to the left of the Sanctuary.

We use the Faith Weaver curriculum to teach an age-appropriate lesson that centers around a faith nugget such as "God made us," "We can trust God," or "God cares for people in need."  Each lesson is accompanied by an activity page and a take-home page.  The take-home page explains the lesson of the week to the parents and includes activities parents can do with their child throughout the week which reinforce the lesson taught.   We also allow plenty of time for exploration, since that is the primary way children of this age learn.

Preschool (Room 104)

For children older than 3-years-old and not yet in Kindergarten. Teachers -Erin Funk, Bonnie Clark and Christine Hepler.  Located on the first floor of the education wing, first education room on right. 

Bonnie worked for Verizon for 18 years before she decided to retire. She has been going to Gravel Hill for about 50 years and love the church.  Bonnie loves music, and she sings with Lebanon County Choral Society.  She used to sing with Joy Choir, which was just older youth, and they traveled around the different counties to sing at Senior citizen meetings and retirement homes.  She also sings at the American Music Theatre, doing Carols there for Christmas while the folks come in for the show.

Bonnie took an interest in the children because Sunday School prepares them for the Children's Choir.  They are so precious and sometimes we will sing during class.

Bonnie has 3 children: Brian who lives in South Orange, NJ and works for CNBC, he has two boys.  A daughter Sherry who lives with Bonnie and helps her out.  She has one daughter.  And Bonnie's youngest is Michael.  He has a boy and a girl. That totals 5 grandchildren whom she adores.

Bonnie is a widow and is free to sing anytime and anywhere.  She sings once a month at Leffler at the Brethren Home and loves it!

Christine Hepler began assisting in the Preschool Sunday School classroom in 2010 before transitioning to a teacher. She has been a member of Gravel Hill since 2005 and attends with her husband and two daughters (ages 9 and 11). Along with the other teachers, Christine enjoys working with the children and providing them with an early introduction to Bible stories and lessons to hopefully instill a lifelong love of Christ.

Class usually begins with the children singing 1-2 songs followed by watching a short "movie" and dancing along to "praise time" that coordinate with the week's lesson. Children are then read a short story (lesson) and participate in a craft or activity.

Kindergarten (Room 106)

Teachers - Dan & Robin deMackiewicz. Substitute - Trudy and Steve Kern.  First Floor of education wing, last education room on right. 

A little more about Robin.  Robin works as a Web Designer during the week at Armstrong World Industries. She has been teaching Sunday School for four years at Gravel Hill. Prior to Gravel Hill, she taught Sunday school in the Catholic Church for three years. Robin looks forward to teaching Sunday School each week because the children are very sweet and she finds it rewarding to watch them learn about God.

A little more about Dan.  Dan works as a Senior Engineering Technician at Alcon World Industries. He has been teaching with his wife, Robin, for three years. The couple enjoy brainstorming throughout the week on lesson ideas and usually have a practice session on crafts Saturday night.  Dan enjoys teaching Sunday School as well. He feels that he learns so much when you teach others.

Steve and Trudy Kern teach in the Kindergarten classroom once a month.  Both of them grew up in the United Methodist Church, and Trudy has been a lifelong member of Gravel Hill United Methodist Church.  They have three boys, ages 7, 11 and 13, and they live in Palmyra.  Their goal as teachers is to help the children obtain an understanding of the Bible through active engagement, help to strengthen their faith and teach them how to connect Bible truths to their everyday lives.

We use the Hand-On Bible Curriculum to help our children know the love of God through Jesus. Each week's lesson includes activities to introduce the children to the Bible story, activities to immerse the children in the Bible story, and activities to connect the children's lives to the Bible story. Each week, we watch Backyard Time with Mr. Z, Miss Lucy and Bongo. They introduce the children to the weekly Bible story. We also play games and make crafts to reinforce that message. 

Grades 1-2  (Room 101)

Teachers - Lisa Bardsley & Jordana Swank. First Floor of education wing, first education room on left.

Lisa has attended Gravel Hill UMC for 10 years and has taught the 1st and 2nd grade Sunday school class for the past 5 years.  She is a veterinarian at a practice in Annville.  In her free time she enjoys camping with her family which includes her husband Chris, and their children, Rachel and Gavin.

Jordana has been with Gravel Hill since 2013.  She has been in some teaching capacity at the church for the past 2 years.  Previously, she taught 7 years of Sunday School at Zions Church in Hamburg.  Jordana loves teaching kids of all different ages and especially loves teaching Sunday School.  She has a passion for engineering, food science, gardening, and reading, as well.  She and her husband, Mark, have two kids--Rachel, age 10 and Nathan age 7.  As a family they love to go to their cabin in northern PA and play in the woods! 

In first and second grade we learn to navigate the Bible as new readers by looking up specific Scriptures and taking part in interactive lessons related to the passages.  Using the Hands-On Bible Curriculum, we explore the Word of God every week through engaging activities and discussions. We learn how to interpret God's Word and apply it in our daily lives.

Grades 3-4  (Room 103)

Teachers - Michelle and Kristen Ault. Substitute - Tawn Boltz.  First Floor of education wing, last education room on left. Kristen Ault is an alumni of Lebanon Valley College who majored in Early Childhood Education. Michelle Ault is currently a senior at Elizabethtown College majoring in Elementary/Middle Level Education with a concentration in Math. Here's what the sisters had to say about their journey: "We grew up attending Gravel Hill and we love being a part of the education ministry here at GHUMC. This is our second year teaching in the 3rd and 4th grade room, and we have been substituting for four years. In our free time we enjoy camping, baking, crafting, and playing with our dog, Daisy. Our goal is to help each of our students develop a growing relationship with our Lord and Savior. We look forward to teaching your child about God's Word!" 

We use lessons from the interactive Hands-On Bible Curriculum which engages students in learning about who Jesus is through games, skits, group activities, and fun gizmos. We relate Jesus to our own lives and discuss ways we can be more like Him to the people around us. Every week we look up a Bible verse together and discuss it as a class. A favorite activity among the students in our room is Bible Bingo. In addition, every year our 4th graders have the opportunity to take on the challenge of memorizing all 66 books of the Bible.

Grades 5-6  (Room 207)

Teachers - Rick & Beth Hoffman. This class is located on the second floor of education wing, last room on left. The 5th/6th grade children actively engage in Bible lessons using the Hands-On Bible Curriculum, which is then followed with discussion on how these lessons could be applied to their every day lives. Lessons are supplemented with fun games and at times, movies. The children participate in missions by making crafts to be sold at our annual Bazaar.

Beth has been going to this church since she was born and Rick has been going to this church for about 33 years. They have two girls and have been married for almost 31 years. They have taught the 5th/6th grade children, helped with Bible School and the Youth for many years. Rick went with the youth on the missions trip the last 2 years and has really enjoyed being able to share his experience with the kids.

 

Middle School  (Room 303)

Teachers -  Chris Moyer & K.C. Bertolet. From the elevator on the Second Level, second door on left.  For grades 7-8.

KC Bertolet and Chris Moyer both grew up in the church of God, attending Sunday School and Youth Group together at the Hershey Evangelical Free Church.  KC graduated from Hershey High School in 2001 and has since pursued a career in the challenging hospitality industry.  Chris graduated from Palmyra Area High School in 1999 and went on to earn degrees from both the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute and Harrisburg Area Community College.  Chris managed hospitality operations for 10 years before moving to Washington, DC to lobby on behalf of the industry on The Hill.  He has since moved back to the area where helps operate a hardscaping and landscaping company, which allows him the opportunity to devote more time to his family and faith, and assisting in a number of community and philanthropic activities such as coaching football, teaching Sunday School, participating in Gravel Hill's Isaiah 6:8 group and serving as a mentor for the anti-poverty effort Circles of Palmyra.  KC has also realigned his life to better serve the Lord and his family, leading through the testimony of his life and participating in numerous Bible Study courses offered by Gravel Hill.  Both Chris and KC welcome any feedback or ideas from parents, so please do not hesitate to contact them.  

Junior High is key time period in our children's lives; it's a time of great transition and transformation - physically, developmentally and spiritually.  In our Junior High Sunday School class we will assist your child in their faith journey by creating an atmosphere where they feel comfortable discussing the challenges they face in their day-to-day lives as believers in Christ, as well as discussing some of the more complex ideas and lessons that are delivered to us in the Bible.  

In our Junior High classroom we will work our way through some of the more complex and challenging books of the Bible (like Revelation) while revisiting some of the lessons they learned while in K-5 (like the creation story), viewing them through a different and more mature lens.  In addition, we will devote a portion of our time to discussing current events, with an emphasis on how we should attempt to look at these things through our "Christianity lens."  At the core of all these lessons and discussions is our goal of taking what we've learned and applying it to our everyday lives, making Christianity not just something we say we are, but a description of how we live our lives - as the class puts it, "Making Christianity a Verb."

Senior High School  (Room 302)

Teachers- Jeff & Judy Kennedy. Substitutes - Katie Landis, Meredith Fausey-Kreider, & Sandy Fausey. From elevator on Second Level, third door on left.  For grades 9-12. This class is focused on growing in our relationship with Christ. We learn how to depend on Him when we feel alone because of our new experiences and growing independence. We use discussion based Bible studies to help us along the way. We are respectful of everyone's opinion, even if it is different than our own. We strive to live our lives the way we know He wants us to. In this class, the teacher acts as more of a guide and the students are encouraged to lead each other as they journey into a new chapter of their lives.

A little more about Katie:  Her and her husband have three boys, 13, 11, & 9.  Katie is the Youth Director for Gravel Hill. She enjoys being a connector for youth to "learn, live, and share Christ." She prays that as each youth explores his/her faith through challenging questions, study of the scriptures, and personal time with God each day, his/her belief becomes deep rooted in the amazing God we serve, worship, and glorify.