Informal Sunday - It's Bring Your Lawn Chair Sunday
Flowers on the Grounds
Adult FMCers in the "Slowest" Race Contest
Church in the Round
Working with the Youth
A welcoming faith community committed to Making peace, Seeking justice, Serving as the hands, heart and voice of Christ
First Mennonite Church seeks to be a welcoming community to all who come our way, and as one expression of our hospitality we are a member of the Supportive Communities Network, a network of Mennonite and Brethren congregations that support full inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church.
Congratulations to the following FMC young adults who will be graduating from college this spring or summer.
Bethany Habegger will be graduating from IU Bloomington with a B.F.A., Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art.
Jakob Amstutz will be graduating from IU with a degree in Informatics.
Kyra Krall will be graduating from Goshen College with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). After graduation, she is moving to Pittsburgh and will be working at UPMC Mercy as a nurse in their Trauma and Burn track graduate nurse program. She will be working on 4 separate floors (Emergency Department, Spinal Rehab, Ortho Trauma, and Burn Unit) for 3 months each.
Emily Fontaine is graduating from IUPUI with a BS degree in Tourism, Conventions and Event Management.
Kealy Ester-Bode will be graduating from IUPUI in May with a major in psychology and minors in nutrition and wellness coaching.
Drew Ester-Bode will be completing a Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree in August.
The Schmucker family has spent the entire past school year experiencing e-learning from home. Caitlin (3rd grade) and Nora (Kindergarten) attend an IPS district school that has swung between virtual and in-person options.The girls will remain virtual for the remainder of the school year. As with so many families, virtual learning has had many ups and downs, but the Schmucker family has also been able to find the silver linings.
Do you like e-learning/learning at home? If so, what do you like about it?
I do like learning at home because on my breaks I can do whatever I want. And I like it because we have another good teacher (Mom).
I like it because I can play with my toys on my breaks.
We love being able to go on walks or play outside whenever we have some time between meetings.
I’ve been working from home for a year now and it’s been nice to see Caitlin and Nora more often during the day.
You have been virtual learning for a long time now–has it gotten easier/more comfortable over time?
It definitely has gotten easier. I know how to do things better and I know the routine.
In some ways it has definitely gotten better as we’ve adjusted to the routines and expectations. There have also been challenges though when the school switched from virtual only to in-person learning – this has happened twice and each time it takes a couple weeks to adjust to the new schedules and routines (their teachers have to manage both the virtual and in-person students). The majority of the students did go back to in-person learning and it sometimes feels like the virtual learners are overlooked/pushed aside.
What has been hard about learning at home? What do you miss about in-person school?
What’s been hard is that I can’t see my classmates in person. I miss my friends.
It’s been hard for Nora (kindergartner) to make friends through the screen. It’s been challenging for me to be a surrogate teacher (teaching is so NOT my thing).
Have there been any funny/notable moments you’ve experienced while e-learning?
One of my classmates always has the song Let it Go from Frozen playing in the background whenever we are meeting. It’s so funny!
Nora’s teacher has three dogs and when everyone was virtual and she was teaching from home her dogs were constantly barking in the background.
Any other thoughts or memories you think you will remember from this experience?
I’ve had a lot of cool conversations with my teacher.
I’ve enjoyed getting to observe more of their school days and get a feel for the ways they’re learning, much more than I can when they’re in person. I will always remember how much Mel stepped up to be the at-home teacher – she’s done so much good for our girls.
Our own Beth Goering just won one of IU’s oldest and most prestigious teaching awards. Known as the Herman Fredric Lieber Memorial Award, it was established in 1960 to recognize faculty who are not just excellent teachers, but who also show evidence of having made a profound impact on learning and having had a life-changing influence on students over time.
Beth won the award for on-going engagement in curriculum and course development in Communication Studies, at the departmental, university, and national levels. She was part of a nationally chosen 30-mermber team to define learning outcomes in her discipline. Her abiding interest in sound pedagogy is coupled with her dedication to mentoring undergraduates as well as graduate students. In her long career (32 years at IUPUI!), Beth has also been able take her teaching across town, engaging her students in service-learning work with organizations such as the Peace Learning Center and Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigrant Services, as well as across the ocean, regularly working with students in Germany and Russia.
Beth’s department chair, Kristine Karnick, affirms: “Her successful implementation of policies based on her excellence in teaching extend well beyond her department, to the School of Liberal Arts, the IUPUI campus, as well as nationally and internationally.”
“Kids! Time to log on for Morning Meeting! Get to your stations!”
Bare feet hit the floor running as breakfast is forgotten on the dining room table. The kids finger-comb their hair, still in their pajama bottoms. I hear the click-clack of frantically typed usernames and passwords. Lyra’s teacher begins roll call as Cody’s teacher blasts “Happy” and encourages the kids to dance. A couple of the 1st graders are asleep on their screens. One is hiding under her bed with stuffed animals–sneaking some Cheerios. I can hear Lyra’s teacher trying to remain patient as a student has internet problems, while yet another has to be reminded to “un-mute” for the hundredth time. I open my laptop and begin to answer work emails while the final, staticky chords of “Happy” are playing in the background. Cody’s teacher begins a lesson on the consonant blend “th”, and he is already trying to sneak a copy of Dogman under his Chromebook to read. So starts another day in virtual learning paradise…
When I look back on the almost seven months that our children participated in e-learning, it all feels like a bit of a blur. I would like to say that I was that Pinterest Mom who established a clear, calm routine to the days–with organic strawberries cutely arranged and fanned out after a leisurely morning walk/ “brain break.” But that would be a lie. I did take a stab at the scheduling thing and made a cute, colorful visual schedule that we sometimes used. I dug through closets and found some old sensory toys, and made the kids run up and down the hallway when they started to have what I refer to as “Zombie Eyes” from staring at their screens too long. On our better days, we took bike rides after lunch and enjoyed one another’s company between scheduled Zooms. On our worst days, we would all end up in tears and click our way to the “Stop Sign icons,” whether the work had been completed “correctly” or not.
Detailing the experience of e-learning for almost a year could literally constitute an entire novel, but I’m not going to do that here. I would, however, like to share some of the big take-a-ways for our family. After having lived through this experience with my children, here’s what I know for sure:
Teachers had to completely reinvent their profession this year–whether they were internet savvy or not. It wasn’t always pretty, but they leaned into the discomfort because they love their students and failing them was not an option.
Children are resilient. If they are fed, loved, have a safe place to call home, and a semi-stable internet connection–they are going to be okay. They are equipped to not only survive this pandemic, but come out of it stronger, more creative human beings.
Surviving this pandemic and wading through the e-learning experience with my children has made us closer. I gained a front row seat to their classes, peers, and teachers in a way that I will probably never experience again.
I have emerged from this experience with an even deeper appreciation for our public schools. While so many federal and state officials were throwing their hands in the air, wailing about the circumstances, our schools got busy feeding and supporting families.
Screens are great, but nothing can replace a real hug or in-person conversation.
It is a bit after 7 am Monday and our granddaughter just arrived to “go to school”, from my home-office. She logs on; and there is the teacher. She thinks nothing of her phone, stylus pen, computer, or the technology needed for her to “go to school”– she is here to study.
Watching such huge transformation, my thoughts go back 20+ years when I was Indiana University’s guru for distance education charged to “develop pedagogical models and delivery methods for distance education.”
I traveled IU’s eight campuses presenting the advantages of technology-mediated education. Some faculty were willing; many had questions (read: objections). One faculty member (close to retirement) confessed, privately, he never learned to use overhead projectors, and didn’t want to learn this new stuff.
Their questions ranged from the extra work, no classroom, no eye contact, labs, glitches, etc.
A dedicated committee representing all eight campuses, co-chaired by two devoted deans, and IU President Myles Brand committing $1M toward distance education, launched the project. We issued a 36-page strategic plan, CHARTING A COURSE TOWARD AN INDIANA VIRTUAL UNIVERSITY.
Our main message: key ingredients of effective learning are a master, an engaged student, and time-on-task. Technology-mediated education provides both reach and richness.
So, what is different today compared to 20 years ago? A lot!
Today there is no need to convince anyone that teaching with technology is necessary – the global epidemic has done that for us.
The speed of technology adoption in teaching is unprecedented.
There is no distance education central office – everybody does it.
There is no strategic plan.
Teaching with technology is now in the mainstream of teaching and learning.
Faculty live with hybrid, synchronous, asynchronous, HyFlex, learning management systems, online discussions, online laboratory sessions, etc.
The reach is limitless.
I heard Greta playing her French horn. When asked, she says students play their instrument and no student hears the others unless we un-mute; the teacher is able to listen to all. When asked about chemistry labs, she said the teacher tapes the experiments, we watch and write a report.
I asked Greta what she liked about on-line classes. “I like computers because I grew up with them.”
What did she not like? “No friends – but we get together on weekends”.
Distance education is in her DNA.
Technology-mediated education has transformed education forever. Students can balance duties with studies: family, work, pace of study, and relaxation. The reliability and ubiquitousness, the lower costs compared to brick-and-mortar learning, all have increased technology-mediated learning about five-fold since COVID-19 hit.
Students should keep these hints in mind:
Connect with other students as much as possible either online or, if possible, face-to-face.
Take frequent breaks.
Start early, stay positive, ask for help, and don’t fall behind.
Stick to studies even if the doorbell rings; stay away from the refrigerator.
Observe online etiquette.
Remember, it is natural to feel anxious.
Interact with, and support students even more than in face-to-face settings.
When possible, keep sessions short and live.
Study current events such as coronavirus.
Without close and frequent supervision, students will fall behind.
Have tests monitored by a supervisor, parent, or make tests optional.
We all live with transformations. Whether it is the change in seasons, the metamorphosis of a cocoon into a butterfly, or the transformation from in-person to on-line classes; all are transformations. In fact, life could not exist without transformations. Life is transformations, and transformations bring life. The opposite is a rock which does not change – and it does not live.
Acknowledgement: Written at the suggestion of E. Eric Boschmann, University of Denver.
Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.
Romans 12:2 (CEB)
Pondering a theme for this most unusual year, the MennoExpressions team observed that the pandemic continues to transform our lives in myriad ways. However, in exploring our topic, it is clear that even in more ordinary times, if those exist, the changes and progressions in life and nature around us continue a never-ending metamorphosis.
Amazingly, flour, yeast and water can be blended and heated to create bread—a fragrant and delicious miracle. Tiny tadpoles wiggle and grow as they sprout legs and finally jump from their pond as frogs. Fuzzy chicks peck their way out of an egg. And a piece of lumber cut from a tree, can be transformed into a beautiful and useful new door, when the artist is skilled and diligent!
As spring gains traction over winter, bulbs, bushes and trees awaken and bring color and fragrance to our yards and gardens. In Japan, celebrations accompany the bursts of cherry blossoms and include a special time of Hanami, or “flower viewing.” Friends and family gather outside to feast and drink under the trees, as they marvel at the transformation of barren branches into scented pink clouds in a floral sky.
This spring issue features photos and stories highlighting our FMC high school seniors, who are to be celebrated for perseverance as they complete their unique year! College and post graduate students will be awarded degrees, and receive congratulations on their years of diligent study! The pandemic transformations in education have been consequential for teachers and students, so we have included views into the experiences of children, as well as university professors.
Our writers share remembrances and images of family gardens, deep ancestral ties, and changes to life and cooking. Looking back at winter thoughts of an icy reservoir accentuates the vernal changes as snowy days melt away. The promise of rebirth in the world around us is a metaphor for the joy and hope found in the resurrection of Jesus after the dark days and hard ground of Lent. To God be the Glory.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; The steadfast love of the Lord endures forever!
Trauma is passed on through generations. Psychologists refer to this phenomenon as intergenerational or transgenerational trauma. Children of parents who have faced extreme situations may be more likely to struggle with their mental health. One explanation of this is that parents or family members who are struggling may pass down their negative coping mechanisms. The actions of our families, the stories we grow up listening to, and the communities that we live in shape us. As a result, the consequences of trauma, are felt for long afterward.
I first became aware of this idea two years ago during a lecture on a boat in the middle of the Dnieper River in Ukraine. It has since changed how I think about my own history. One day before that lecture, my grandparents, my mother, and I, along with roughly 30 other passengers, boarded a bus and headed into the Ukrainian countryside to see the villages of our ancestors. What was intended as an eight-hour bus trip slid into hour fourteen. By then I was hungry, exhausted, irritable, and tired of peeing in fields. All I wanted to do was head back to the boat. So, when we pulled up to an abandoned train station, I could only be described as exasperated. The sun had set, and the only lights remaining were the headlights on the bus.
As I caught up to the group, I saw that they had gathered in the middle of the tracks. Here, the leaders of the group informed us that this was the train station Mennonites had used to flee persecution, and that would later carry them to execution. They recounted that as each train of Mennonites left, those that remained sang the hymn “Take Thou My Hand, O Father.” When the last of the Mennonites boarded the train, and there was no one left to sing, the Ukrainians — who had never gotten along with the Mennonites — sang it to them. Together as a group, we stood in the dim light of bus headlights and sang that hymn together. I could not see the faces of those singing around me, and I barely knew the German lyrics, but nevertheless, that moment bound me to those people. I had heard brief mentions of this chapter in my family’s history but, it had always seemed so far removed from my life that I didn’t pay attention. Suddenly though, I was intimately connected to it. In the course of a week, I had seen the same buildings, the same sky that my ancestors had, I had sung the same hymns, and eaten the same foods. What was far away became close.
On the trip, a group of psychologists told us that trauma is passed on genetically. It is felt and dealt with through generations. I have come to believe that if this is true, then resilience can also be passed on. Resilience comes from knowledge. It comes from hearing and telling our stories. The pathway forward to peace, within ourselves, and our communities, comes from reconciling with the trauma of our pasts.