Notre Dame Urban Education Center: an inner-city ministry with impact way beyond its city limits

When retired SND educators, Sr. Reinette Kroeger and Sr. Lynette Shelton founded the Notre Dame Urban Education Center (NDUEC) in 2009 they were responding to an educational need of families in the City of Covington, KY. Focused on children in grades 1-8, the NDUEC provides individualized tutoring, academic support, arts and cultural enrichment, and physical education. It also hosts a Family Night once a month, providing the families of children attending NDUEC with information and life skills training.  Little did the Sisters know that their success in inner-city Covington would reach far beyond the physical borders of the city.

This past spring the Governor of Kentucky presented Sr. Reinette (pictured left) and Sr. Lynette (pictured center) with the “William Cooper Faith & Community in Action Award” for their work with the Notre Dame Urban Education Center.

The prestigious award was established in 2009 in honor of the Reverend William Jefferson Cooper, Sr., of Westport, Kentucky. Rev. Cooper, a man of faith and vision, founded the Kentucky Governor’s Prayer Breakfast. The recipient of this award embraces the heart of the Commonwealth, tirelessly working in service to others, leaving a lasting impact.

A great example of NDUEC’s impact is told through the story of Bailey Jones. Bailey has been participating in NDUEC’s after school program for five years. Newport Central Catholic High School recently announced the highest-scoring eighth grade students who took the High School Placement Test. Bailey’s name was on that list! Her accomplishments earned Bailey a four-year scholarship to attend the high school. Bailey is a firm believer in the value of NDUEC and the programs it offers. “I recommend it to everyone. Besides getting your homework done, it’s good to have something to do after school. Plus, they have art and music programs. I learned how to play the piano and have met great friends at the Center”, notes Bailey.

The staff and volunteers at the Notre Dame Urban Education Center are united in their belief that all children:

  • Have the power to learn
  • Are curious & creative
  • Can succeed​​

The after school program is 3:00 to 6:00 pm, Monday through Thursday during the school year. It includes tutoring, cultural enrichment including art, music, dance, theater and supervised indoor physical education. A monthly family program provides support, life-skills training on a variety of topics, and coaching on how parents can more effectively support the academic success of their children. Improved family functioning and positive involvement with their children lead to better childhood outcomes. During the summer, students gather for four weeks from 9:00 to noon, four days a week to benefit from learning continuity and a safe, nurturing environment.

Over 100 volunteer tutors are an essential key to the success of the Center’s programs. Assisting the children with their homework or working with them to improve their reading or math skills gives the children the ability to be successful in school. The tutoring is done in one-on-one or in small group sessions. As consistency is a key to success, tutoring volunteers are asked to commit to the Center for one full semester.

Paul Miller, who joined NDUEC as Director in 2017, is joined by Sandy Hatch
as Activities Coordinator and Mary Gray as Volunteer Coordinator. A strong volunteer Board of Trustees and Sisters Reinette and Lynette provide vision, guidance and support. Paul’s small but mighty team works wonders and changes lives in its modest offices in Covington. Kudos to the founding sisters for their version of “retirement”!