June 2, 2020
Dear McGillis Parents,
Here we are in our final days of the school year: students coming together for their end of year meetings, holding special events, and celebrating their accomplishments. Typically it’s a time filled with happiness, appreciation, and excitement. We move forward this week attempting to do just that, yet at the same time we are living during a challenging and significant time in our country’s history. A pandemic has a hard grip on our daily lives. And, the plague of racism in our country once again produces a new wave of hatred, pain, sadness, and anger. More Black lives taken senselessly, more people of color being treated as if their lives do not matter.
I am learning that there is more that I can do, and more that I must do. As an educator and leader of a school, founded in Jewish values and one that lives a purpose to create individuals committed and able to repair the world , it is my essential duty to call on our McGillis community to consider how we can act as our values state, and live them in honest ways in the most difficult of times. I want to clearly state that we need change in our country and our communities, and I stand with our students of color and our families of color. I want to be doing everything I can to help our families of color feel supported by our school community. I want to call on our white students and families to speak out towards the injustices we witness. These are not problems for the Black community alone, or any underrepresented community, these are our collective problems, and they are our shared responsibility. McGillis is a school that has long valued diversity, equity, and inclusion. We need to stand strong against racism and racist acts.
Our values compel our community to create a world in which we seek to live. And Derech Eretz , having respect for all people and beliefs, extends to our educational focus on the whole child, our curriculum’s strength in ethics, world cultures, religions, and self-expression. If we truly do wish to live our purpose, to create individuals committed and able to repair the world, we must wade into these hard conversations. When school resumes in the fall, we will continue our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We will continue to lean into our values and push ourselves to do more and take further action, including increased professional growth opportunities for our faculty and staff, and additional parent education events to our community conversations.
In the meantime, you will no doubt face further questions and wonders from your children in the days, weeks, and months ahead. These are the hardest conversations for us as parents to have, and yet they are the most important ones we must have. As you seek the best ways to help your children understand the truths of racism that our country is grappling with today, here are some resources that may be helpful. Additionally, I welcome you to reach out to Liz Paige, Melinda Kaufman, Tim Campbell, Sarah Davies, or myself.
I hold strong hope that our future can be better because we know the good in our children: the optimism they carry, the truths they speak, the empathy they possess. Our children need to see us act in this moment, and in the days ahead, through our care for them, our willingness to have difficult conversations about systemic racism and bias, and by sharing with them our commitment to creating a better world. In other words, our School’s purpose is not just for our students; it is for all of us.