Our Job as a School
I hope all enjoyed the various Halloween activities in and out of school and emerged relatively unscathed. As always, the creative energy of our students and staff was on full display in the gym yesterday, and I appreciate that we can take the time to celebrate the playful side of school- with a reminder that it’s good not to take ourselves too seriously every once in a while.
I personally found the festivities a needed diversion from some of the recent events in the news.
As I reflect on the state of our society and the stark divisiveness that seems to pervade, it seems to me that our mission of providing an “inclusive and collaborative community” and our vision of graduating students “prepared to make a positive difference in the world” has never been more urgent. Recent hate crimes around the country, including last weekend’s horror in a Pittsburgh synagogue and the execution of two African-Americans in Kentucky, are awful reminders of the racism and prejudice that exist in our world.
Our job as a school goes beyond teaching tolerance and respect for all people. We want to equip our students with a foundation of commitment and fortitude to take action in the face of bigotry and discrimination, in whatever form it takes and whoever the target.
I hope, and expect, that our students will insist on a society that lives up to George Washington’s vision, expressed in his letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport in 1790, of a country that “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”
Looking ahead to next weekend, I wanted to put in my personal plug for our annual Multicultural Feast. Our Parent Multicultural Affairs Committee sponsors the event, one of our school’s great, family-centered traditions, on Saturday, November 10, starting at 5:30 p.m. in our ballroom. The Feast provides the opportunity for some community togetherness and the chance to share food from the many cultures that shape who we are. In the process of sharing food that has been lovingly prepared, and that has meaning to who we are, we offer something of ourselves in a most fundamental way.
The PMAC works in parallel with a staff-driven Multicultural Affairs Committee to further the inclusiveness and equity goals that are fundamental to our school’s mission and values. The year, our staff MAC team is focusing on developing our schoolwide anti-bias curriculum. When completed, the curriculum will capture what we do currently to ensure our inclusiveness and equity goals are met as well as help us identify in what areas we can be more consistent and proactive. Essentially, the curriculum is organized four major themes: Identity and Self-Awareness (Who am I? What makes me unique?), Valuing Diversity (Who are you?), Understanding Dynamics of Discrimination and Prejudice, and Becoming an Agent of Positive Change. We’re working on articulating how each of these themes are woven into our classroom curriculum, in developmentally-appropriate ways.
Together, the PMAC and MAC teams comprise a valuable resource for all our families. One of the core purposes of these groups is to provide a connection for families who may wish to discuss any area of concern related to inclusiveness or equity. We advise parents to initiate conversations with homeroom teachers, advisors, or division leaders to address academic or social concerns, and we also recognize there may be some issues related to inclusiveness practices of which you would like the school to be aware. Learning Resource Teacher Leneta Jones and Middle School Counselor Stephanie Bender are leading the staff MAC team and are available to hear and discuss any issue and will bring them to the appropriate school administration.