Statement of Philosophy Philosophy of Western Mennonite School Western Mennonite School is a partner with families and churches in teaching young people to become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ within a community of faith and learning. We believe that a biblical understanding of discipleship means using Christ as a model for what we do and how we live, including the willingness to embrace the teachings about loving our enemies, how we use our wealth, and sacrificing social status or position to serve others with humility. We believe that living according to the values of the kingdom of God will transform persons and their relationships with others, but will often place Christians in tension with the social systems within which they live. We believe the church is the mutually supporting community that enables believers to live faithfully and receptively as followers of Christ. As a Mennonite school, WMS upholds this understanding of Christian faith in its approach to teaching. Faith-based and Christ-centered, the liberal arts curriculum at WMS focuses on core content areas with added emphasis on biblical studies. Because Jesus teaches his followers to love others, our curriculum promotes a diverse world-view that gives value and dignity to people of all cultures, promoting human rights, justice, and equality for all. It is a goal that students’ education includes learning methods of constructive meditation, reconciliation, and transformation of conflicts. Healthy ecological principles are to be taught as students increase their awareness of environmental issues. The curriculum includes opportunities for students to develop leadership skills to serve their church and community. Learning is a continuous, life-long process, resulting in changes in the behavior, attitudes, and abilities of all involved. WMS recognizes the need for students to learn how to learn: to set high personal standards, seek feedback, remain on task, persevere to attain goals, examine and analyze their own work, and build on strengths. Students are also taught how to apply prior knowledge, a variety of learning strategies, and time management skills to their learning. Ideally, a student’s basic physical needs for rest and good health should be met to maximize their learning potential. The classroom environment should be clean, orderly, and comfortable, and a place where all members treat themselves and each other with the highest regard. Students’ multiple intelligences and learning styles are important to the teacher and are best discovered through respectful relationships, dialogue, varied activities, and effective assessments. The teacher’s role is to facilitate learning, not just dispense information. Effective teachers have high expectations that build a student’s self-worth while also discipling, encouraging, mentoring, and nurturing the soul of the student. The teachers and students set goals, yet recognize that the opportunities to learn are as important as the outcomes. Learning is more than the mere representation of facts – it is relevant and hands-on, includes application whenever possible, and always integrates faith in Jesus Christ.
Seeking continuous growth, teachers study and use the best known teaching and assessment practices. Teachers look for ways to build connections between their students and the content for which they are passionate. Teachers understand the need for trust, support, care, communication, interaction, clear explanation, and encouragement. The inspiration and energy required for the role of a teacher comes from knowing one’s true self as created in the image of God. Such knowledge enables teachers to model the way of Christ as students discover their own gifts and discern God’s purpose in their life. Classroom management principles are based on honor, respect, and care for all members of the classroom. Teachers establish clear guidelines for conduct to create a safe environment free from emotional, physical, and spiritual danger. Teachers provide clear boundaries for roles and relationships, and when conflict occurs, restoring those relationships is of key importance. Flexible and reflective, teachers allow justice, mercy and humility to lead as they interact with students. “He has shown you…what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 (NIV) While academic growth is important, Western Mennonite School values the whole person and seeks to promote growth in all areas. This comprehensive growth is made possible through a view of learning that integrates faith in Jesus Christ; a curriculum designed to increase spiritual, social, and environmental awareness; teaching practices that are sensitive to the students’ individual needs; and classroom management principles based on respect. The goal of Western Mennonite School is to provide a transformational and holistic education that inspires life long learning. Creating an environment of faith, social awareness, sensitivity to individual needs, and mutual respect, Western Mennonite School empowers students, developing future leaders and informed citizens that positively impact their churches, communities, and the world.
Board Adoption 9/28/04