Beverly Shores Faith-Based Partnership

Bethany Lutheran Church has teamed up with other nearby churches to help turn around a local elementary school that has received failing grades from the state. The Beverly Shores Partnership exists to support the educational needs of Beverly Shores Elementary students, parents, and staff. 

Below are some of the ways Bethany Lutheran has helped serve our friends at Beverly Shores Elementary School.

From August 6, 2021 - The Daily Commercial

Beverly Shores Partnership hosts teacher breakfast at the Leesburg elementary school

LEESBURG — Preparations are underway at Lake County Schools for the start of a new school year on Tuesday.

Teachers at Beverly Shores Elementary returned to school this week to a special surprise breakfast from the Beverly Shores Partnership, a group from various area churches that have come together to show the school a little extra love and support.

“We want to be a support to the school which is right across the street from our church,” Pastor Gary Eldred of Christ United Methodist Church, said. “We want to be a blessing to the children, the staff, the teachers, and be an enrichment any away we can.”

The group consists of volunteers from the Bethany Lutheran Church, Christ United Methodist Church, Salvation Army and Macedonia Church of the Living God, along with individual volunteers who have joined in.

“They do supply drives for us, they help us with our Trunk-or-Treat, they help us with uniforms and they do breakfasts and lunches, cook-outs and last year they helped us with masks and hand sanitizer,” Beverly Shores Elementary Principal Cindy Christidis said. “We’re really excited about this school year and the partnership helping us move our students event further.”

Two years ago, the school was given an ‘F’ rating after poor performance on standardized testing. When Christidis was brought in, she put a call out to the community to really help improve the school and the partnership was a huge part of that.

“When I came to the school two years ago, I reached out to them,” Christidis said. “We were rated an ‘F’ school, but we are now a ‘C’ school, but I wanted to make sure we were reaching all our students and their family. Helping the whole child, yes academically, but we wanted to make sure they had uniforms and food, incentive for attendance and incentives for our teachers. It’s hard work. Our goal is an ‘A’ I know with our community support we are going to get there.”

The partnership kicked off their 2021 year with a hot breakfast for the teachers and have many things planned throughout the coming school year.

Throughout the year, they collect snacks to provide the kids breakfast and food to take home if they are in need, and beginning in January, they will offer Wonderful Wednesday program once again which is an after school program offering tutoring, music, arts and crafts and Bible class.

“We are also going to do something new this year,” partnership member Cindy Henry said. “We are going to do a Christmas closet where kids can go in and choose a gift for their parents and for themselves. We are going to be starting collecting gift donations for that real soon.”

In September, they will also host a grandparents day for the school and have more events in the works. 

“We just want to be there, be integrated with everything going on,” Eldred said. “My wife is a retired teacher and daughter and son-in-law are both teachers so we know a little about the challenges teachers face and we just want to be of any encouragement we can possibly be.

The following article appeared in The Daily Commercial, Leesburg, FL Feb. 20, 2020 

Beverly Shores Elementary Partnership donates handmade curtains for classrooms

The partnership is made up of members from nearby churches: Bethany Lutheran Church, Christ United Methodist Church, Salvation Army and Macedonia Church of the Living God.

LEESBURG – A group of ladies from the Beverly Shores Elementary Partnership donated more than 90 handmade curtains to help Beverly Shores Elementary School in their improvement initiative.

The partnership is made up of members from nearby churches: Bethany Lutheran Church, Christ United Methodist Church, Salvation Army and Macedonia Church of the Living God.

“We are a faith-based group of people that got together to help support the needs of the school,” member Priscilla Scherrah said. “We formed last summer after seeing all the articles about how they were asking for the community’s help.”

Last year, the school received an “F” grade from the Florida Department of Education. Since then, there has been a concerted effort to better the school through community and parental involvement, additional training for teachers and working on various projects to get the kids excited about learning.

The partnership has held multiple benefits including a back to school luncheon, a Christmas concert and a BBQ event. They also provide incentives for teachers and students throughout the year.

But the most recent need that was brought up was for something to cover the classroom windows. Due to new safety precautions, teachers must have a way to cover windows in case of an emergency, which thus far has been done with black tape or construction paper.

“We are just overwhelmed with the generosity,” Principal Cindy Christidis said. “We are very fortunate to have them. We are aiming to get a C or higher on this year’s assessment, and with all the support we feel like that is attainable. It’s a hard job coming in with added challenges but they have really stepped up and embraced our school.”

Each curtain is lined with Velcro to make it easy to cover and uncover as needed. The patterns were also chosen to add to the colorful and creativity of the classrooms, replacing the black paper and tape.

“I always try to instill that coming from an ‘F’ school doesn’t define the people or the kids,” Christidis said. “But we have to work together to turn the school around.”

Beverly Shores Elementary Partnership

What is it? The partnership is made up of church members from Bethany Lutheran Church, Christ United Methodist Church, Salvation Army and Macedonia Church of the Living God.

Is the partnership hosting any upcoming events? Yes. The partnership is planning a teacher luncheon in May and a special prayer service at Christ United Methodist Church in Leesburg at 6 p.m. March 31, the night before the school’s standardized testing. Everyone is welcome to attend and learn more about the partnership and how to get involved in helping the kids.

Want more information? Call 352-365-0622.

From July 22, 2019 - The Daily Commercial

Helping Beverly Shores: Community rallies around struggling elementary school

LEESBURG — As Beverly Shores Elementary prepares for a new year, the Leesburg community is rallying to support it.

The school is facing a challenge following a year of poor test performance and the lowest grade it has received from the state since 2011. District officials said turnover hit the school hard again this year and it is the only school in Lake County to receive an F since 2015.

That said, a wave of community support and a new principal have saturated the air with high hopes for the school going into August.

Community members and organizations have been organizing around the school, setting up events and sending donations, for the past few weeks. One of the biggest ways the school has received support so far has been through book donations.

“My conference room is full of books,” the school’s new principal, Cindy Christidis, said. She’s been receiving a steady income of classroom book donations from individuals and businesses for the last few weeks.

The support has been overwhelming, she said, indicating that it would take some time to distribute several pallets of books across the classrooms. But it’s a good kind of overwhelming, she said.

The school will receive even more support in the coming weeks. Over the upcoming weekend, a local church and an independent organizer have both set up events designed to bring in funding and supplies for students and school staff.

Bethany Lutheran Church is among a number of area churches contributing to the school. The church has scheduled a barbecue on Saturday to raise money for school supplies.

All the food will be homemade, church councilwoman Jan Wilbar said, and people can either eat at the church or take their food home in a box.

They’ve already started selling tickets, Wilbar said, and they’re hoping to see a lot of support for the event, which they hope will become annual.

Mandy Zalick, organizing with the help of the Enforcers Motorcycle Club of Leesburg, will host a school supply drive directly after the BBQ.

Zalick advertised the event on Facebook and posted the school’s own supply list in the comments of her post. There will be food there as well, and live music from 3 Ring Circus, a local act known for covering rock music.

Christidis said she’s looking forward to the weekend events, but she’s also excited about the promise of continued support from the area churches, which have been organized by Pastor Priscilla Sherrah of Christ United Methodist Church.

Sherrah said she met with three other church leaders Thursday and more intend to get involved. The group has agreed to meet monthly to discuss new ways to help Beverly Shores throughout the year.

“I felt like we were all working in silos,” Sherrah said of the yearly events the churches would put on each year. Uniting them brings a chance for greater impact, she said.

Sherrah said the school’s struggle is close to her heart. She was an educator for over 30 years and taught at an F school once that received an A the very next year.

“I think Beverly Shores can do it with (help from the community),” Sherrah said. “I just believe we can do more if we pull together.”

The first event the churches will do is for the school staff directly. They’ll be hosting a luncheon before the school year begins to feed teachers and staff. They’ll also have gift cards to give away from supportive local businesses.

That event is just meant to support the school’s staff and let them know the community appreciates what they’re doing and wants them to succeed.

In the future, she said, she’s hoping the group can find ways to increase what is possible for students in the area and directly support those students and their families.

Christidis said she’s grateful for the support she’s getting and she’s looking forward to getting to work with Beverly Shores students.

She said that she jumped for the chance to be principal at Beverly Shores this year, not only to take on a new challenge as a principal, but because she comes from a similar background to Beverly Shores students.

She wants to see that students aren’t getting a substandard education or lesser opportunities because of where they attend or where they are from.

“When we say all students, we need to mean all students,” she said.

“I grew up poor and I had great grades, but no one talked to me about going to college, because I was poor,” Christidis said. She wants her students to feel that level of hope as children.

And she’s looking forward to paying the community support forward.

“Not only are we asking for help, we want to help,” she said. The school has been allocated two family-school liaisons to assist with communicating with families this year. Normally, a school gets one at most.

Christidis said she’s looking forward to using the extra people-power to visit families at their homes and provide more resources to families who struggle to support their students.

Superintendent Diane Kornegay said she’s happy, but not surprised, that residents of Leesburg are coming to the school’s aid. She said she’s always felt like Leesburg residents have been ready to help their students, and it’s only been more evident recently.

“I think that the outpouring of support for our kids has been tremendous,” Kornegay said. “So many people have recognized the challenges and want to be part of the solution.”

Kornegay said the district will also be pitching in this year, having formed a team of district staff assigned to helping schools improve and getting them in touch with the resources to do so.

Kornegay said that her hopes for the school match those of Christidis.

“At the end of the day, I want the academic needs of our students met,” she said. She also wants to see a culture shift where teachers and staff will want to stay with the school year to year, which she said she thinks Christidis is more than qualified to achieve.

Before that can happen, the school needs to fill its vacancies. The state announced last week that it would give incentives to effective and highly effective teachers who teach at F schools — up to $7,500 and $15,000 for the respective categories.

The job postings at Beverly Shores have already opened, Kornegay said, and she’s hoping to see people apply with that incentive in mind.

With those extra recruitment dollars and the promise of community support, Kornegay said she’s hopeful that it will be a good year for Beverly Shores.

Beverly Shores Community Events


• BBQ Lunch Benefit for Beverly Shores Elementary School

When: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Bethany Lutheran Church, 1334 Griffin Road, Leesburg

Cost: $8 a ticket for adults, $4 for children 12 and younger.

What: BBQ chicken, pulled pork, baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw and cookies, all homemade. Eat in or take out. All proceeds go directly to Beverly Shores Elementary.

• Beverly Shores School Supply Drive

Time: 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: 106 S Kaolin St., Leesburg

Cost: Donation only.

What: A school supply drive with live music and food. People are asked to bring school supplies for direct donation to Beverly Shores.

Bethany Lutheran also supported Beverly Shores Elementary School in July when they held a Bar-B-Q lunch and we were able to present Beverly Shores with a check for more than $2,000.  A huge thanks goes to Colletta Doll and her committee who worked for hours to make this event such a huge success.

Bethany also continues to collect books for Beverly Shores so that each classroom can have library books available for their students.




Beverly Shores Elementary supplies breakfast for students and they have a "pantry" at school where they keep some breakfast items they use to feed children that may be late to school and have not had any breakfast.  So, we have been asked to help fill their pantry.  This won't take a huge commitment on our part but we are asked to bring a box of breakfast bars now and then.  You can simply leave them  on the table in Founders' Hall.  This month Bethany delivered over 200 BOXES of Pop-Tarts.

Special thanks to all who contributed to the "Valentines for Teachers" project at Beverly Shores Elementary. Your generous contributions allow us to partner with Christ United Methodist Church to prepare a bag of candy with a valentine and friendship bracelet for every teacher, teacher aide, and staff (130 bags).