Love Them First: Documentary Inspires As God Works Through Brokenness
At an elementary school in North Minneapolis, God is bringing hope and transformation to students through the lives of two Christian principals and their teaching staff. The story is being told through a new documentary film: Love Them First, which shows a year in the life of Lucy Laney Elementary School. On August 16, Transform Minnesota hosted a screening of the film at the Music Box Theater for church leaders and school teachers. The screening was followed by a panel discussion with Principals Mauri Friestleben and Lisa Pawalek, and KARE11 reporter Lindsey Seavert.
Filmed during the 2017-18 school year, the documentary follows the leaders and staff of Lucy Laney as they invest in reaching students affected by homelessness, domestic violence, unstable family life, and even the loss of parents due to alcohol, drug use, and imprisonment.
“Love them first” is the rally call of Principal Mauri Friestleben and staff. The team is driven to see the dignity of God in each student and and equip them to chart new trajectories for their future.
Each of the panelists shared how their faith in God and the work of the Holy Spirit sustains them through the challenges they face each day. This film is not only an encouragement, but also a reminder that God often strategically places Christians in vital places to impact lives. Since Love Them First was released, Mauri Friestleben has been selected as Principal of Minneapolis North High School. Her Assistant Principal, Lisa Pawalek, will lead Lucy Laney Elementary School. Love Them First was produced by KARE11 and will be broadcast on their station, Thursday, September 12 at 8:00 pm. It will be released this October on streaming platforms, where Executive Producer Janeen Vogelaar hopes it will become a teaching tool to help churches, neighborhoods and educators support students who facing challenging circumstances. Transform Minnesota is grateful to Wooddale Church – Loring Park Campus for hosting the screening at the Music Box Theater, and to Thrivent for their sponsorship and key partnership in this event.