Our team is continuing to have conversations about racism, humanity, and who we actually want to be, but everything I'm learning tells me the conversation and work can't stop at school.
We've leaned into some of these conversations on UnearthED the past few years, but I'm humbly realizing we have so much more to do. I'm sharing a message I sent to our school community earlier this week below.
As a result, I've had the chance to deepen my own learning and resolve while also learning more about the different perspectives and questions stakeholders have. I learn from every one of these conversations and am thankful for the feedback and chance to further lean into who we want to be for the students we serve.
Message to Families:
Racism is gut-wrenchingly terrible, unacceptable, abhorrent, and it must be stopped in all its forms. We confronted it earlier this school year when racist graffiti was left on our playground and we will continue to take a stand when we see it elsewhere.
I know many of you are feeling similar things because you've reached out to me to share your stories, heartache, experiences with racism over the past several decades, and the aspirations you have for your children now. Over the past week, my wife and I have been talking with our own children about the wrongful death of George Floyd. Despite the young ages of our kids, they are not immune to seeing, hearing, and wondering about some of the complex things many of us are grappling with. But one thing they will not wonder about is where we stand when it comes to racism.
Of course, our kids enter into these conversations at their own level. And while we cherish every opportunity we have to process with them, I'm personally feeling heartbroken that these conversations are necessary. But they are.
And our kids' memories are not short. Some of these conversations seem alarmingly familiar to them. As they probably do to many of you.
I understand we have much work to do when it comes to addressing systemic racism and disparities that exist. And I want you to know our staff is continuing to lean deeply into this work. We are meeting. We are reading. We are listening. We are looking within. We are growing.
We obviously don't have all the answers, but we are committed to being part of the solution. And we are committed to helping your children grow up in a school and world where students feel safe, supported, and truly seen. But we're not there yet.
I also wanted to let you know that you can reach out to me or [removed staff name] if you need any support or if you'd like to share additional resources for us. We know this work and these conversations don't stop just because school will be out soon. [removed email addresses]
Lastly, I'm attaching a resource our district put together for families, like mine, who are trying to help their children navigate their world in a developmentally appropriate way. It is certainly not easy being a parent, but rest assured, we think your work is critical and want to partner with you in a meaningful way to help.
Resources for Parents/Guardians
General suggestions for conversations with children about tragedy
A Trauma-Informed Approach to Teaching Through Coronavirus - discusses classroom strategies that are applicable at home as well
Resources about discussing race with children
Books for conversations with E-5 students*
Let's Talk About Race (ages 4-8)
Sulwe (ages 4-8)
Where Are You From? (age 3-8)
I Am Not a Number (ages 7-11)
* If purchasing books is not possible, many libraries also have these books in multiple formats. They may also be accessible on MackinVia or EpicBooks.