June 20, 2020
Dear AGS Community,
Since my last communication to our community on June 1, 2020, much has happened in the world as a result of George Floyd’s murder. The pain and anger of so many has become an outcry of our people. Although the outcry is real, it is not new. It is rooted in generations of inequity, fear, violence, and disenfranchisement. As a nation, this outcry has forced the creation of vulnerable places for people to hear (not just listen), find compassion and empathy, and from there, take action. I am struck by a quote from American author and Pulitzer Prize award winner Eudora Welty:
“The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order, a timetable not necessarily–perhaps not possibly–chronological. The time as we know it subjectively is often the chronology that stories and novels follow: it is the continuous thread of revelation.”
What is happening in our lives now may not be chronological for many of us who have experienced systemic racism throughout our lives. However, how empowering is it when memories, history, and actions long hidden from consciousness signal to us that they are ready to be worked through. The chronology becomes less significant than the actual revelation. What is important for me is that the revelation for so many is happening now. The acceptance of what we are still facing as we know is true, racism, and that violence, trauma, and fear continue to be inflicted on Black men, women, children, and families. Today, our youth are calling all of us to a higher standard, one that challenges all of us to a commitment of work.
As I shared in my previous letter, AGS strives to be at the forefront of raising leaders capable of empathy, awareness, tolerance, acceptance, and social responsibility. Our time is now. We must respond to the urgent call to enact the difficult work of justice and reconciliation through education and empathy. Diversity, equity, and inclusion remain a central commitment in our work as educators with students and families, and we must have our students leading the charge in this work.
This past week we had listening sessions with our students and even though school is not in session, they were well attended. What we know to be true, taken from our Founders’ Charge, is that all of life is school. The responsibility we have as educators and to provide the space and forum for our young leaders to process, speak, be heard, listen, and activate is a moral imperative, despite the time of the year.
Our school was built upon the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. With commitment and dedication, we continuously seek and engage in education, training, and opportunities to advance that mission and to ensure that AGS is a place of love, acceptance, and inclusion. In recent years, we have strengthened our commitment by:
Drafting a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Statement for AGS which will be adopted by the Board of Trustees.
Engaging in critical conversations and anti-bias training as part of our regular and on-going professional learning with support from internal and external DEI facilitators, as well as attending local and national conferences and seminars.
Reviewing curriculum to question, affirm or change.
Implementing student-led days of dialogue focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Continuing and strengthening an annual Teachers’ Institute, a public-private partnership, to address unconscious bias especially as it relates to STEAM.
Engaging our parents as partners in this important work, throughout the year.
We are excited to expand and strengthen our work in these areas, not allowing distance learning to impede on our commitment to do so. The listening sessions with students provided great insight on shaping our next steps to ensure a positive and equitable student experience for each student. As we celebrate this Juneteenth weekend, let us be reminded of the significance of our own stories, experiences and most importantly, our revelations.
Head of School