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May 30

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In Evansville, IN, People of Praise members have turned vacant lots into an urban farm that produces thousands of pounds of vegetables each year for their neighborhood.

A People of Praise School Coming to Shreveport


Story by Elizabeth Grams and Sean Connolly. Pictures by Greg Walters. 

Our work in Allendale is poised to take a big leap forward as plans advance to open an elementary school. Craig Lent announced the plans at the Leaders' Conference for Men in South Bend on Friday evening, March 13.

The school will be called Praise Academy at Lakeside: a People of Praise School. It will launch this fall for children in prekindergarten, kindergarten and first grade and eventually expand up to the eighth grade.

The "at Lakeside" portion of the school's name reflects a mission to serve children who live within a quarter-mile of our cluster of homes in Allendale, an area known locally as "Lakeside."

"This is a very exciting move of the whole People of Praise into a new educational arena," Craig said.

Three community members living in Allendale have accepted positions with the new school. The principal will be Joan Pingel, a special-education teacher with 20 years of experience and the winner of two teacher of the year awards (from Trinity School at Greenlawn and Sun City School in Bossier City, Louisiana). Colleen Murray, a math and science teacher will be the assistant principal and dean of girls, while Kevin McShane, a missionary with a degree in computer science, has agreed to become the business manager and dean of boys.

"Our goal for the school is to raise strong Christian young men and women who will build the kingdom of God," Joan says. "We want to start young, with four-year-olds, and go from there."

The school will open at 1434 Yale Avenue, a 2400-square-foot residence built by Action volunteers in 2006.

Nathan Barrett, the team leader and the longest-serving community member there, says that the idea for the school dates back to at least 2006, when the local CIM team agreed to send Joan to get a master's degree in school supervision.

More focused planning began in 2012 when Joan and Nano Farabaugh (South Bend) began drafting a curriculum. With Debbie Mixell (South Bend), they visited several Christian schools to garner ideas: the West Dallas Community School, The Wilberforce School in Princeton, New Jersey, The Oaks Academy in Indianapolis and Gardere Community Christian School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

"We want to get to know each child individually, to respect them, to serve them and to delight in introducing them to all aspects of what is good, true and beautiful," Nano says.

The curriculum will include the usual subjects of reading, writing, math, art, music, etc. Other topics taught will include Scripture memorization, Bible reading and habits such as right speech and forgiveness and reconciliation.

In the spring of 2014,  the community received an anonymous $111,000 grant to make preparations for the school. The Christians in Mission team in Allendale began a community consultation to discern whether God was calling them to make the school part of their long-term neighborhood work. After unanimously agreeing to proceed, the team began to consult with their neighbors. They knocked on close to 300 doors and spoke with residents of 223 homes.


They found that 97 percent of the neighbors they spoke to expressed support for the idea of the school. Seventy-one percent specifically emphasized that they wanted it to be a neighborhood school.

Many neighbors spoke about the importance of having prayer in the school. "The school would be a good idea for the neighborhood," said Rosie Priest, a Lakeside resident and mother of four children. "Real prayer, and reading the Bible every day-that would be awesome. That's the way I was raised. My mom and dad taught me about the Father and Jesus. We didn't have much, but they believed in prayer. If we teach the kids that, they will do that."

The school has formed a board of trustees which includes Paul DeCelles (chair), Nano, Paul Kane (South Bend), Debbie and Joan. Sarah Loughran (South Bend) has been working as an administrative assistant for the project since the fall of 2014. Members of the Allendale CIM team and members of the Shreveport branch are already volunteering help with various needs: preparing breakfast and lunch, providing transportation, janitorial work, tutoring, etc.

Tuition and operating expenses for the school will be subsidized by outside donors, with local families paying what they can afford. Anne Osterhouse (South Bend), the communications director, will be providing information about how community members can participate.

"The Lakeside school project is a faith undertaking," says Paul DeCelles, "a work which is possible because of the community's experience educating children at Trinity Schools since 1981 and the faithful presence of brothers and sisters laboring in Allendale since 2002. Please join us in prayer during these crucial next few months before the opening."


  1. Tom Shriver says:

    This is terrific news and certainly proof that the Lord is working powerfully there! We will be creating a new generation of young people who will change the entire face of that neighborhood and hopefully expand throughout the city. God's blessings as you all move forward. You will be in Buffalo's prayers.


  2. Beth Pingel says:

    Praise God for this new work! I am delighted for the incoming students, their families and our body.

  3. Susan & Stephen Busk says:

    PRAISE GOD PRAISE GOD PRAISE GOD!! All that work, Joan, Congratulations! We are all so happy for you all. What a work of the Lord!

    PRAISE GOD PRAISE GOD PRAISE GOD!!! After all your hard work, Joan-Congratulations! We are so happy for all of you! God bless you all. We will be praying for all of you.
    Stephen and Sue

  4. Kelly McMullen says:

    An answer to prayer! Glory to God, and He WILL be glorified in this place!

  5. Kaitlyn Raway says:

    Praise God!

  6. Angie Hass says:

    Glory to God! This is an amazing moment in our work in the Valley! Thank you brothers and sisters for committing to making the school a reality!

  7. Greg Anders says:

    Awesome undertaking!! I am moved to tears. God bless Praise Academy at Lakeside.

  8. Jocelyn D'Eon says:

    What a super idea!!! God bless your efforts!

  9. Bob Badham says:

    I knew it was going to happen and am mighty happy for the good news! Prayers for success! Keep us posted on progress.

  10. John Banks says:

    I realize that this is the result of a lot of prayers from members in Shreveport and throughout the community. It is truly God's work that we have been privileged to participate in.

  11. Frances Gauthier says:

    I am so excited about all the work our brothers and sisters are doing in the Lakeside neighborhood, but especially this new venture. We will be praying and offer all the support we can. God bless them.

  12. Ray J Gonzalez says:

    Glory to God! It is great to see the Lord at work. We are truly blessed to have so many qualified and gifted brothers and sisters to make this a successful undertaking. I repeat: GLORY TO GOD!!


  13. Marge Connolly says:

    This is wonderful news! Education is something we are good at, not to mention one of the seven goals of the community. Thanks to all you Allendale and Shreveport brothers & sisters who will be pitching in to help.

  14. Mary Kay Gleason says:

    Absolutely fabulous!! Praise the Lord, and God bless all of our missionaries!!

  15. Dennis Heinrich says:

    Are the non-teacher staff positions paid positions? For example, food staff, custodians, transportation providers.

  16. Carol Govek says:

    Halleluia!! The work of the Holy Spirit touching the lives of these children will "take Lakeside back to the Lord!!!"

  17. Jim Kadera says:

    Praise God! This is fantastic news! Definitely a great gift to the children of Lakeside.

  18. Liz Slattery says:

    A wonderful way to meet the needs of our neighborhood families. It is an exciting venture in the ️Lord. I will definitely be praying for this!

  19. Alana Busekrus says:

    What wonderful news! May the Holy Spirit bless each child and family that is involved with Praise Academy. May love and life thrive in the school environment that is being developed! May each teacher and administrator be blessed with wisdom, courage, and peace to shine God's love in the challenges and celebrations ahead.

  20. Jeff Brummer says:


  21. Tom Caneff says:

    All Glory be to God! !!

  22. Pat Walsh says:

    Glory to God! This is wonderful news. May all involved in the work have all the grace they need for every task and may the Lord be glorified. You all are in our prayer.

  23. Charlie Fraga says:

    What a bold step in faith! It points to a long-term future for our work there and a hopeful future for the children who will attend. Come, Lord, and bless the launching of this new project. Great news!

  24. Mary Duddy says:

    I think a school, starting at a young age, is a wonderful plan for the neighborhood. I am grateful it is possible, and will be praying for this endeavor.

  25. Karen Heintzelman says:

    I am so happy to know that these children will be so loved by all of you and God will give what is needed. I am ready to support.

  26. laureli latimer says:

    Wonderful to hear of this ministry coming to the south. Prayers for many blessings.

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