During these recent months of tragedy in Minneapolis, around the country, and in our local communities, Lancaster Mennonite School stands in solidarity with our students, staff, families, and persons of color who feel the pain of these events.
LM Superintendent, Dr. Pam Tieszen shares, “Lancaster Mennonite chose years ago to be a diverse community reflecting our local community. This choice is an ongoing commitment to listening, learning, making mistakes and trying again, hiring people of color so our system reflects our student body, and walking the talk. We have made mistakes, but we desire to practice Christ’s love in a safe school setting, committed to change where we are planted.”
As a school community we aspire to practice 15 Faith Statements that demonstrate how we hope to live in a diverse community. Faith Statements 1-5 affirm that:
- Students know they are loved and valued by God, which enables them to value and love each other.
- Peacebuilding is regularly modeled and practiced as a lifestyle of nonviolence, seeking justice and being part of a reconciling faith community.
- LM values and is responsive to cultural, racial, and socio-economic diversity.
- LM provides a welcoming community where it is emotionally safe to raise questions, value and learn from differences, and care for each other.
- The school enables students to practice global awareness, cultural sensitivity, anti-racism, and compassionate living.
We recognize that we have a responsibility to continue listening, learning, and guiding as we seek to provide a supportive space for all of our students and employees. Beginning in 2018, LM has hosted annual anti-racism training for faculty and staff, culminating in the creation of our 15-person Anti-Racism Task Force. In 2019, LM students joined this group to lend their voices and perspectives to the work, and LM students will continue to have representation moving forward.
Among other efforts, this group has created a directory in our shared digital faculty platform of articles, resources, and lesson plans focused on anti-racism education; worked on mandatory training for future LM hires; planned immersive minicourses for seniors on Civil Rights and the Native American experience in Pennsylvania; and created an anti-racism and diversity reading list for elementary classrooms. New Danville Elementary second grade teacher and Task Force member, Sophie Dodge, explains, “It is never too early to begin talking about race with children, and books can be used to both educate children about human diversity as well as build an environment in which children feel safe discussing these topics. We believe that children need to read books that provide an honest reflection of the world they live in, and that representation of diverse characters and stories in literature matters deeply and is beneficial to every child.”
Please join LM in continued prayer that we can demonstrate love and peace as we stand against violence and oppression locally and globally.