|Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford|
|Anna Speicher (at right) and Cyndi Fecher (at left) with a last group of Gather ‘Round staff, as the curriculum entered its final year of production. Second from right is Roseanne Segovia, who completed her employment with Gather ‘Round earlier this fall. Second from left is Rose Stutzman, who was an editor for Gather ‘Round and now has been hired as project director for the successor curriculum Shine.|
Anna Speicher and Cyndi Fecher are completing their employment with Gather ’Round, the Christian education curriculum produced jointly by Brethren Press and MennoMedia. Gather ’Round is in its final year of production and will be available through the summer of 2014. The successor curriculum, Shine, will be available beginning next fall.
Both Speicher and Fecher will continue some responsibilities on a contract basis through next summer, to help finish out Gather ’Round’s final quarter.
Anna Speicher has been project director and senior editor of Gather ’Round for 10 years, since fall 2003. She began her work as the curriculum project was initially being created by Brethren Press and MennoMedia (then Mennonite Publishing Network). Her last day at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., will be Dec. 13.
Speicher has played a lead role in the creation and production of Gather ’Round and its materials for teachers and students, from young pre-schoolers through junior and senior youth to adult caregivers for children, for whom Gather ’Round offered a study resource for some years.
With its conceptual roots in the Shema, the “Hear O Israel” passage from Deuteronomy that is the foundation scripture, Speicher helped shape Gather ’Round as biblically based Christian education. She has led the curriculum’s intentional foundation in sound educational principles and academic research, alongside an emphasis on meeting the needs of students with a variety of learning styles. Gather ’Round has featured the Anabaptist emphasis on Christian education set within an active faith community, with strong ties between congregation and home.
This innovative approach, which helped create unique resources such as the signature Talkabout, garnered high praise for Gather ’Round in ecumenical circles, and gained many curriculum partnerships with others beyond the Brethren and Mennonites.
Fecher has been managing editor of the Gather ’Round curriculum for more than four years, since August 2009. Her last day at the General Offices will be Jan. 21, 2014.
In her role as managing editor, she has held responsibility for making sure all the pieces of the curriculum come together, shepherding the quarterly production of teacher’s guides, student books, resource packs, and Music CDs. She has negotiated contracts with writers, editors, designers, illustrators, and musicians, and helped oversee the editorial schedule as well as doing copyediting, proofreading, and troubleshooting for the curriculum.
Earlier, Fecher also served for a year as the Gather ’Round project assistant. Next summer she will be pianist for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio.