It has been a difficult spring for everyone in our country. We all have high degrees of uncertainty about our own well-being and public health in general, the economy, and what the future holds. Adding to this, last week we were faced with yet another example of the injustice and inequality in our society that stems from the institutional racism that the United States has unsuccessfully struggled to overcome. We watched the violent arrest of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by a police officer now charged with his murder. In the last few days, we’ve witnessed people across the country respond in peaceful and sometimes violent demonstrations. These events highlight – again – the needs of people who are disadvantaged and marginalized in our society and often in our own CWA community, particularly people and families of color.
Our charge as an educational institution is to do what is best for our students. We decide what is best based on our expressed values and stated principles. Just this past April our Board of Trustees approved the school’s first Inclusion Statement. The statement (included in its entirety below) champions the development of an intentional community culture that supports “each community member’s understanding of their own identities by others.” This work was done by members of our staff, board, and community because we know we have work to do even in our own small CWA community for everyone in it to “know they belong.”
Developing this statement is just the beginning of the work of inclusion, not the end. Our desire is to be a fully inclusive community. Our reality is that we are not. The leadership of the school acknowledges this and wants to say to all of our families that at this moment in particular, we stand with our families of color as they navigate the fear, hurt, and anger of these most recent events. We support all our families and students, but this is a moment we are listening in particular to our families of color. We are here to facilitate meaningful dialogue among our students and our families.
Our goal as educators is to always help each student work toward being their best selves. We want them to aspire to be the best people they can be. We want them to see and confront man’s inhumanity to man and engage in the commitment to see each person as deserving of equal respect. When we can do this we are our best selves. Helping our students see the rancor, ugliness, and despair evident in our society today is the first step in helping them make their way past it. As an institution we are committed to our values of respect, integrity, and compassion, and believe they support the work we must continue to fulfill the aspiration of being a truly inclusive community.
So, this week in both our Middle and Upper Schools, we are facilitating student conversations, open to any student, to talk about what is happening in America and for them. Some of our students are frightened, some are anxious, some want to take action, some want to better understand “why” these things are happening. The role of the school is to provide our students with the space to question, explore, reflect, and then develop their own thinking as they construct their own understanding of the world at this moment. We want to help them articulate their questions and guide them to resources to uncover their answers.
At the core of what parents and faculty want is for our students to grow up healthy, strong, wise, and compassionate. We want our children to be prepared to successfully navigate the future with confidence. This is a moment for us all to be committed to that shared work of preparing the next generation to be better human beings. This is the time for us to engage our children and each other in frank and supportive conversation about our hopes and challenges and fears. It is our time to model humanity and grace.
Head of School
Charles Wright Academy best exemplifies its mission and values when everyone knows they belong in our school community. We embrace an intentional culture that champions everyone’s full participation as their authentic selves in all of the opportunities that comprise the Charles Wright experience. This includes supporting each community member’s understanding of their own identities and acceptance of the identities of others. By doing so, we empower everyone at Charles Wright to connect, learn, grow, and achieve.
The inclusive culture we strive for requires us to make both institutional and individual commitments. Institutionally, we will align policies, curriculum, and decision-making to this goal, and we commit to ongoing self-examination, learning, and action. We also encourage and support individuals to initiate and engage in candid, courageous conversations as this work is the responsibility of every member of our community.