Vision Spotlight: Pierce speaks her mind


Mariane Powell

Pierce teaches foreign language classes, including French, Latin and German, to MSMS students.

Mariane Powell, Staff Writer

Whether you call her madam, frau, magistra or coach, you probably know Lori LeVar Pierce is never afraid to speak her mind in any language. The French, German, Latin and debate teacher, originally from Arkadelphia, Arkansas, describes herself as someone who “doesn’t believe in sugar coating things, ever.”

Before teaching at MSMS, she worked at the UPS corporate headquarters in Atlanta. Pierce came to MSMS as a German teacher in 2010.

“They were going to have me teach German for one year as an adjunct and then scrap the class, but I guess they liked me so much they kept both the class and me,” Pierce said, a testament to how much of an asset she is to the school.

Margaret Mary Henry, who teaches Russian, joined the MSMS faculty at the same time as Pierce and said Pierce “is a very energetic and passionate advocate for students and foreign language, and helping students become citizens of the world.”

Along with teaching, Pierce is the coach of the MSMS Speech and Debate Club. She said she loves to watch students learn new things and find success at competitions. However, she said simply winning a trophy is not her goal, and students gaining the “absolutely vital” skills learned by participating in speech and debate events is what she values most.

“Madam Pierce is one of the most genuinely caring teachers I know,” said senior Dia Kher, who serves as the president of the MSMS Speech and Debate Club. “The amount of effort she puts into helping the team on top of teaching all of her classes is astounding.”

“I think she’s not afraid to say what’s on her mind, and that’s what makes her a great teacher,” added senior Danielle McConnell. “We can rely on her to be truthful.”

Something that might surprise most MSMS students to find out is Pierce appeared as a guest on Dr. Phil’s show before she began her teaching career.

“Before I started teaching here, my oldest child wanted to walk to soccer practice alone from my house one day,” Pierce said. “My neighbors called the police, who came and told me I could have been charged with child endangerment.”

This frustrated Pierce, and inspired her to join the free-range kids movement. In 2010, Pierce went on Dr. Phil’s show to talk about her own experience as well as the philosophies of free-range parenting.

Pierce’s religion has strongly influenced her self-expression. She is Mormon, and traditionally women have held less authority in The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. Despite this historical precedent, Pierce is unafraid to use her voice to advocate for reformation.

“We have seen slow but progressive change within the church as far as ideas of women,” Pierce said.

She herself works to be a pushing force for that change. In 2013, Pierce flew out to Utah with a group of other Mormon women to petition for admittance into a major church meeting that was exclusively for men. While they did not let her caucus in, she said the church eventually got rid of the meeting altogether.

Pierce is also the president of the board of Exponent II, which she said is “a feminist organization that uses the sharing of stories to create a communities amongst women connected to Mormonism.”

Exponent II was founded in 1974 by a group of Mormon women who wanted to create a colloquy at the intersection of Mormonism and feminism. Over time, it evolved to become an inclusive platform for promoting the voices of those who have been historically undervalued by the Mormon church, with a quarterly publication, yearly retreat and numerous scholarships for artists and writers.

For Pierce, “it’s about the community we build and learning about other women’s life experiences, broadening my horizons about what life is like for lots of different people.” She stepped up to the role of president in 2021 after demonstrating her dedication to the Exponent II community by publishing blog articles and assisting at the annual retreat for multiple years.

Her advice for students who are interested in using their voice through service projects of their own is simple: “Find something that excites you and find a way to do something without being caught up in how big of an impact it is,” Pierce said. “Small impacts are just as important and necessary; sometimes you need to be a sprinkler rather than a fire hose.”