June 1, 2020
Dear Lowell Families,
I have struggled all weekend trying to decide what to say to you, my school community, about the events surrounding the lives of Christian Cooper and George Floyd, and the violence that has gripped our country. I want my words to hold the gravitas of a head of school, but first and foremost, this is personal for me. Like you, I have watched the news reports, although sparingly, with a mixture of emotions rooted in my identities as a black mother and the wife of a black man. While I did check in briefly with my son, Sam, after learning of the incident involving Cooper in Central Park, it was upon hearing the initial reports of George Floyd’s death that I called Sam immediately to find out where he was, and to remind him yet again of the rules for staying safe in this world as a young black man. I am scared, and angry, and so, so sad. I feel lucky that my son is visiting me right now. His close physical presence brings me a level of peace during these times that is indescribable, because for me, this is personal.
I consider my responsibilities as your head of school to be personal as well. We are a school with a philosophy and values that include diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a progressive school, our commitment to educating our students as citizens of a democracy, to social justice, and to action is woven into our curriculum and the ways we challenge children to make a difference, no matter how small. We prepare them to use their voices in ways that will change the world. But I watch Amy Cooper call the police and pretend she is being attacked by a black man and I wonder: Are we doing enough? The inheritance we are leaving all our children is filled with racism, bigotry, and discrimination. I hear about how George Floyddied, and I ask myself: How do we prepare our students for a world where this is still able to happen? What more can we do now to help them grow into individuals of agency, advocacy, and action so that this no longer happens on their watch?
I don’t have the answers, but I have many ideas. We must confront our own biases. We must discuss the real reasons behind the protests and fires. We must harness our anger, sadness, and fear to teach our students about the systems of oppression that birthed our country hundreds of years ago and exist today. We must be model disruptors of prejudice and discrimination in front of them. We must actively model anti-racism. As a school, we must take steps to ensure that Lowell is living into our values of social justice and action every day. We must support our white students in processing what is happening so that they grow up to be willing co-conspirators in the breaking down of a system that hurts us all. We must create space for the processing of our black students’ emotions right now, particularly our black boys. We must ensure that other students of color are part of the conversation in ways that don’t make their own race-based challenges appear invisible in the moment. And, we must do this together. We do not have a choice; we simply must.
We do so much of this work already at Lowell. Jason and Kavan sent letters to the families in their divisions yesterday, sharing examples of how we engage students in these challenging conversations and providing resources to help guide you in talking with your children. The Pre-Primary School is taking on these topics as well, albeit in very different ways geared toward the ages of our youngest learners. Some of our teachers created space last week for students to talk about what they were hearing and seeing in the news. Our curriculum is designed to engage children in conversations about important and necessary topics year-round. We are doing the work, and we will continue to do so, because we must.
Reading yesterday’s communications, I felt proud, and yet I continue to feel a sense of urgency. This is a time when our integrity must be on display as a school that stands proudly by its commitment to its values. These values are part of our legacy, and our responsibility to our students and each other is one we cannot afford to shirk. We simply cannot rest.
Please join me in ensuring that our students become the change agents of our world, and know how thankful I am for your presence in this wonderful community.
Head of School