Areas of Gratitude
Survey responses highlighted two aspects of conservative Anabaptist schools which merit gratitude. First, the schools in our survey enjoy strong parental and church support. Nearly half of the respondents mentioned patron and church support as something they like about their school. They describe “a great community of parents to work with” and “a core of very supportive, engaged parents.” We note with gratitude that no respondents said they have a big problem with parental support. In fact, 82% of respondents reported positive relations with parents. This strong relationship between parent and the school calls for gratitude from all involved.
A second area of gratitude is school culture. Twenty percent of respondents indicated that they enjoy their school’s culture. Survey responses described this: “It’s a safe place to learn and grow.” “Our school is small enough that the staff and students know each other.” Respondents expressed gratitude for “good relationships between staff and students,” “a culture of grace,” and “a relaxed atmosphere.” Eighty-two percent of respondents report a positive school culture, while only a few experience it as a big problem. This pervasively positive school culture is a reason for gratitude.
These two areas of strength are significant for the future of conservative Anabaptist schools. As teachers and school administrators safeguard the trust placed in them by parents and church leaders, and as they nurture the positive school culture that exists, they will find opportunities for fruitful service and development. Indeed, this foundation will provide the stability needed to navigate the challenges facing the school.
This survey revealed that there is much in conservative Anabaptist schools for which to thank God. By and large, parents and churches support the schools that are educating their children. Teachers bring committed energy to their work, cultivating a positive school culture. Academic curricula meet many needs in the educational program of the school.
Opportunities abound for the investment of energy and vision in the future of Anabaptist schools. The development of materials to teach church and Mennonite history would fill a need in the academic program of many schools. Increased effort is needed to help our schools effectively serve special needs learners in the classroom. Creative solutions must be cultivated to solve the financial challenges faced by our schools. School boards, school administrators, and church leaders should consider ways to identify and develop teachers and keep those teachers in the school long-term. Significant investment of resources in these areas is needed, not only to sustain what currently exists, but also to build on that foundation to serve the needs of the next generation.