The 48th annual Huether Lasallian Conference brought Lasallians back together in person after Huether went virtual in 2020. Themed “Compassionate Dialogue and Courageous Conversations: Pathways to Equity and Belonging,” the conference took place November 18-20, 2021, in Baltimore, Maryland, with nearly 200 attendees.
“It’s definitely one of those things that helps you to realize that the mission of La Salle is not simply contained to our school and our building,” shared Frank Hurley, a teacher from La Salle Academy in New York.
Huether opened on Thursday, November 18, 2021, with prayer, a keynote address by Ken Shelton on building an inclusive and mindful culture, and a celebration of the Brother John Johnston, FSC Award and the Distinguished Lasallian Educators. Thursday’s events also included opportunities for Lasallians to connect during a social for first-time attendees before the opening session and a social and reception at the end of the night.
“It has been an eye-opener,” said Jeannette Meinzer, a Spanish teacher at Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis, Missouri. “I think we all share a goal, and that is to be there for our kids. The caring and love that we can provide can go a long way and maybe prepare them for the future outside of school to become better human beings and have some empathy toward each other. It has been great to be able to share those common goals.”
Friday included a session by Shelton focused on problem-based learning and the design-thinking process, along with thought partners sessions and opportunities for participants to gather by District for meetings and dinner. Saturday concluded the thought partners sessions, which explored the Declaration on the Lasallian Educational Mission: Challenges, Convictions and Hopes and focused on topics including equity, association, belonging, creative fidelity and justice. The sessions gave participants an opportunity to reflect and share best practices.
Courtney Pulitzer Joubeaud, who recently joined San Miguel High School in Tucson, Arizona, as the director of marketing and communications, was invited by the school’s president and CEO, Dave Mason, to attend Huether to get a foundation of the Lasallian mission and learn about the Declarations.
“I think he knew that being here, I would grasp so many things about what the declarations are and the Lasallian mission, and then be able to process it so that I can start bringing that sensibility to the marketing and communications,” Pulitzer Joubeaud explained.
Jamal Adams, new principal at La Salle College Preparatory, saw Huether as an opportunity for formation.
“To really spend some time with Lasallian documents. I thought the animation of the Declaration document, particularly as it helps us imagine how we do diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging work on our campuses, has been revelatory,” explained Adams. “Particularly as a school leader, it’s really helping me imagine how do I move this forward and how do I take the document—those words—and turn them into actions and programs.”
Brother Matthew Chiantella, a postulant who serves as director of student activities at Saint Mary’s College High School in Berkeley, California, felt the Huether experience helped his formation as a Brother.
“I realize that it’s a partnership and truly a shared mission,” Brother Matthew said. “The fact that the mission is done both by lay Partners and Brothers, it’s helped me realize that there are men, there are women, who are fully committed, and it helps my commitment that we are all in the shared heritage together. We have this legacy of La Salle and the educational mission, and it makes me proud to share it, and it makes me further committed. There are so many people—Brothers but also lay Partners—that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for them.”
Saturday also included a panel discussion on diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging, where educators shared personal stories of their experiences also discussed opportunities to foster inclusive community in ministries.
“I think it’s interesting to see teachers that look diverse explain their experiences both as teachers and as students growing up in our society and ways that they didn’t feel seen or felt invisible or were treated in a way that they felt were inferior, but then rising above that, advancing through that, becoming like phoenixes in their own way to make our society better in the midst of struggles,” shared Madison Harvey, a social studies teacher at De La Salle High School in New Orleans, Louisiana.
First-time attendee Mary Frances Sierra, math teacher from Colegio De La Salle in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, which joined the District of Eastern North America (DENA) in August 2021, looked forward to taking what she heard back to her ministry.
“This is a lot of information. I really love it,” said Sierra. “This is a renewal of my goals. I love to teach. I teach fourth to sixth graders. I love the children. My ministry is to teach, and they learn to be a better person in the future.”
The Huether Conference will return to Baltimore November 17–19, 2022.
Pictured at top: Panel discussion, from left, Jon Ficaro, De La Salle Blackfeet School, Browning, Montana; Marta Rhea-Johnson (moderator), De La Salle Collegiate High School, Warren, Michigan; Ken Coward, Christian Brothers High School Memphis, Tennessee; Alexsandra Walton, Saint Mary’s College High School, Berkeley.