June 11, 2020
Thank you for your heartfelt replies to my MESSAGE last week.
This time demands moral clarity. We strive to daily live up to our MISSION, CORE VALUES, AND BELIEFS, inside and outside of our classrooms. In this light, we are evaluating our curriculum across disciplines and grades. This assessment will consider the complexities of justice and include an extensive range of authors and sources. Mary Ellen Mega, as our Dean of Academics, and Kim Rizio, as our English Department Chair, would encourage your suggestions on the curriculum or related co-curricular activities; you can reach Mary Ellen at MMEGA@LONGTRAILSCHOOL.ORG or Kim at KRIZIO@LONGTRAILSCHOOL.ORG.
Beginning in the Fall, I will lead a yearlong conversation on race, racism, and racial justice through the platform of a schoolwide class. This class will be for Grades 6 through 12, though we will likely provide focused forums for our middle school and high school students. Our students will be my “teaching assistants;” they will help me craft course content based upon student interests. I expect us to consider works by, among others, James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Robin DiAngelo, Ralph Ellison (who was my American Lit prof in college!), and Isabel Wilkerson. We also plan to engage guest facilitators with diverse experiences. Parallel opportunities to engage parents and alumni in discussion are part of this plan of action.
The spirit of this endeavor will come from our students. A fundamental aspect of our school life is that we teach and support our students in their political engagements and social activism. Our approach of “grassroots” rather than “top-down” is grounded in pedagogy, effectiveness, and ethics. We coach our students to become change agents. Because we as a school cannot affiliate with any campaigning or advocacy organization, we can concentrate on raising and educating a generation ready to take action to achieve social justice and racial equality. If our students immerse themselves in critical political and social causes – even as those causes may push competing agendas, philosophies, or politics – then we have all helped advance our mission to make a difference in repairing our world.
Thank you again for your partnership. The most resonant progress encompasses the home and the schoolhouse. Below are select resources compiled by our faculty for you to consider as you talk as a family about race and current events. May we sow and reap a more just society, through the eyes of our children.
Stay safe, healthy and hopeful,
- HOW TO TALK TO KIDS ABOUT RACE AND RACISM, by Parent ToolKit
- TEACHING YOUR KIDS ABOUT RACISM: ANTI-RACISM BOOKS FOR KIDS BY AGE, by The New York Times
- RESOURCES FOR TALKING ABOUT RACE, RACISM AND RACIALIZED VIOLENCE WITH KIDS, by Center for Racial Justice in Education
- PEANUT BUTTER, JELLY AND RACISM, addressing implicit bias, by The New York Times
- THE HATE U GIVE, based on the Angie Thomas NOVEL, is streaming for free on multiple platforms.
- 13TH, a documentary by Ava DuVernay on racial inequality in the prison system. Netflix is presenting this work for free to non-subscribers and on YouTube.
- ADL’S TABLE TALK: FAMILY CONVERSATIONS – GEORGE FLOYD, RACISM AND LAW ENFORCEMENT