Meet Dr. Michael Badriaki, LM’s new High School and Middle School Principal
By Aubrey Kreider, Director of Marketing
We are excited to welcome our new Principal, Dr. Michael Badriaki, to the Lancaster campus.
A shorter version of this interview was featured in the Fall 2021 edition of Bridges, LM alumni magazine. Enjoy this full length version of the interview.
LM: How did you first become connected to LM?
DR. BADRIAKI: I became connected to LM when our daughter, Teniel, began attending Locust Grove (LG). My wife, Kristen, and I have loved her teachers at LG. Teniel has also introduced some of her classmates to us and they are cool kids! I was also invited to serve on the site council at LG where I continue to gain so much appreciation for my colleagues and have loved working with Mr. Miles Yoder who is the Principal at LG. I also met Dr. Tieszen, whom I find to be authentically empathic, thoughtful, wise in counsel and a great listener. I have since gotten to meet more of my colleagues and I look forward to serving together.
LM: What past experiences have prepared you for this role?
DR. BADRIAKI: There are many people, experiences and areas that have prepared me for this role related. I will segment them into faith, community mentors in my village, learning and teachers, discipleship, business and entrepreneurship, international professional experiences, and formal education.
Faith – My family loves the LM community where our daughter Teniel (5th Grade) has thrived at Locust Grove under the wonderful leadership of Mr. Yoder and each of the faculty there. We are excited to belong and to serve in the LM community. The vision, mission and ethos deeply resonate with Kristen, Teniel and I. The distinctives of faith, education and community are timely, persuasive and compelling. By God’s grace through faith, I am also motivated by the Anabaptist and Mennonite commitment to education and discipleship “that finds its highest expression in love of God and neighbor.” Central to my past and present professional experiences is the foundation of faith in Jesus’s loving kindness and mercies through the gospel. I cherish the Anabaptist values of Jesus as the center of our faith, community as the center of our lives and reconciliation as the center of our work.
Community Mentors in the Village – Coupled with my professional experience for my new role, is a strong work ethic and academic success which I earned through the community that discipled and invested in me. I credit my mother and father who instilled the love, joy and resilience in me for formal education because their influence laid the foundation for my profession in education. I learned what it means to “hope against hope” from my mentors as I saw them persevere through insurmountable suffering and odds. My past life experiences have prepared me to get up when I fall, never give up, pray, forgive and not take myself too seriously. I am so grateful for the people who exemplified what it means to sacrifice, value working hard, focus on character development, be generous and adapt responsibility. In my view, they were all teachers in their own right.
Education: Learning and Teachers Awesomeness – I love working with teachers and students. I am passionate about building student life environments which promote holistic student success. I hope to encourage our lovely students at LM to continually cherish those positive mentors who have and are helping them on their journey. Gratitude goes a long way in Christian character formation and is energy for adapting responsibility. Along with my parents, some of the immediate influences in my life are my siblings (three sisters and two brothers, one who is my twin) who excelled in their educational pursuits. One in particular, Beth who is an excellent professor and administrator, has been a role model to me regarding how to serve meaningfully in my professional life as a teacher and administrator. With Beth’s exemplary character and courageous encouragement, I decided to embrace the call to begin teaching at seventeen years old.
Teaching Through Discipleship and Faith Integration While Being Discipled (Matt 28:19-20) – Teaching Sunday school in my international context of the most ethnically diverse country, also offered focus on introducing students to God’s mission and pointing them to the gospel. During my early days of working with students, I was gripped by the beautiful truth of how people from all walks of life are created in the image of God. I was also provided the relational opportunity to know diverse students and their families. While a pupil myself, I was entrusted with the apprenticeship opportunity to teach Sunday school at my home church in Uganda. I looked to my parents and Beth for counsel and they encouraged me to learn, teach as I was being taught by other teachers and do my best. They shared a phrase with me in my language that notes, “Akati, kinikwa, kakirikabisi.” Directly translated to English, the phrase means, “the sapling starts to flourish in its early stages of development.” The environment of faith, learning and rich diverse community in which my parents, siblings, teachers, pastors and friends have invested in me through discipleship fuels my professional experience.
Learning Business and Entrepreneurship – Among other ministry activities and professional duties, I taught in a network of many elementary and high schools. Nearly half of my early teaching experiences were as an unpaid volunteer. On some occasions, I served in a teaching and leadership role in underserved schools because the students needed help with their school work. Other early professional experiences include working in business. When I was young, I helped with my mother’s bakery business. She is one of my heroes because she started her bakery in our home with one stove and she grew it into a successful and growing business.
International Professional Preparation and Experience – Over the last twenty years, I have acquired the necessary interdisciplinary administrative skills and leadership capabilities to fulfill the responsibilities of my new role. I have worked in the areas of serving people living with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities (IDD), customer service, student advisor, development, project management, refugee resettlement, global health, and conflict resolution. I am able to perform needs assessments, fundraise, budget, and navigate governmental policies and requirements. As a former international student and then a former international students’ admissions counselor, I believe in empowering team members with skills that ensure institutional compliance with all SEVIS matters. I am enthusiastic about student recruitment through delightful student services and quality programmatic policies. With a multicultural background, I am able to nurture a thriving and positive culture of diversity and inclusion. I have vast experience in organizational leadership, educational consultancy in Africa, Asia, Haiti, England and the United States. My strong background in recruitment, negotiation, partnership building, group supervision and the execution of missions/tasks is pertinent to the position at hand. I work well in teams and have effective interpersonal skills. I believe that serving at LM will be a refreshing experience.
Formal Education Preparation and Experiences – I earned a Doctorate in Leadership and Global Perspectives at George Fox University, a Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies at Multnomah University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon. I am continuing to pursue PhD studies in Intercultural Education from Biola University. I have also written a book that was published in 2017 titled, When Helping Works: Alleviating Fear and Pain in Global Missions.
LM: Why are you excited to work at LM and in this role?
DR. BADRIAKI: I am excited about God’s work at LM and the opportunity to join LM’s vision, mission, aim and purpose. I am excited about being a support for our teachers, their exemplary work, dedication and commitment to the student’s success. I am excited about the students, the personal innovative dreams, desire to learn, their discipleship and acquisition of employable skills they are gaining at LM in order to contribute to family life, church life and a pluralistic society.
I want students to know what they are really capable of, and that a community cares about them, their whole self. We can use faith to fan the flame, and unlock human development and God-given gifts so each life knows their place in this world. I am excited for these things to continue happening at LM, and be a part of this work together.
LM: What are some of your personal interests?
DR. BADRIAKI: I enjoy traveling, reading, sports, playing musical instruments and spending time with friends and family.