By Eloy Rodriguez, LM Middle School Principal
Two of our faith practice statements at Lancaster Mennonite are:
- Our school is responsive to cultural, racial and socio-economic diversity.
- The school enables students to practice global awareness, cultural sensitivity, anti-racism and compassionate living.
About 40% of our students at LM are students of color, a remarkable statistic compared to most private, faith-based schools in Lancaster County. We feel we are a stronger school because of our diverse student body, but this statistic doesn’t hold true when it comes to our faculty and administration. In order to be a safe and welcoming learning community for all students, we realized we needed to do some work when it comes to anti-racism.
This led to a five week anti-racism training led by Nick Miron and Kevin Ressler in 2018. For three hours over five evenings, 35 people from faculty, staff, and administration met to talk and learn about what it means to be an anti-racist institution. We learned a lot about our own implicit biases and how those biases can impact students. It was a powerful experience for all, but when it was over, we left asking the question, “now what?”
One of the ways we are answering that question is by creating an anti-racism taskforce that meets regularly to keep the conversation
going while we develop action steps towards living out our faith practice statements. The anti-racism task force is made up of 11
people, including teachers, administrators, and students.
Our first major accomplishment was the creation of a racial incident form. This form allows teachers and students to report racial
incidents that they experience or witness. These forms are given to administrators who provide the anti-racism taskforce with feedback on what issues need to be addressed within our community.
Other topics we’ve looked at within the taskforce are a school-wide audit of the images on our walls, creating a resource page online for teachers, developing anti-racism training for new faculty and staff orientation, and brainstorming what we can do to attract more faculty of color. We also invited Dr. Amanda Kemp to lead a six week anti-racism training in early 2019 (see next page). We know that we have a lot more work to do, but we feel the creation of the anti-racism taskforce is a small step towards making peace in the LM community.