Making FA Day a Safe Space
I hope this letter finds you well after an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday. Over the break, I took some time to reflect upon national events and their impact on our community here at Day. I wanted to share with you efforts we are making both with staff and students to ensure Day continues to be a welcoming, supportive, and safe community for all.
As a teacher and administrator in Newton for the past 35 years, I do not recall a time as challenging and confusing for our students leaving them with many questions. The current political climate seems to have exacerbated the divisions in our community, increasing the instances of hateful and hurtful speech. The lack of civil discourse means folks are talking at each other instead of to each other. Those with legitimate points of view do not feel comfortable sharing their opinions for fear of being labeled and judged. I believe this is especially true for those in our community who may not share the majority viewpoint. However, if we are not able to come together and discuss differing viewpoints in a civil manner, it will be difficult for us to understand and learn from each other.
I have always appreciated working in a district that encourages and expects its staff to examine their belief systems and strive to understand different perspectives. One of the ways this is accomplished is to create safe spaces where we can speak honestly without fear of being labeled or judged. If we as adults can model conversations in which we are asking questions in effort to understand another’s point of view, we will be helping our students to learn how to engage with others in a productive manner.
I have been meeting with our students to talk with them about civility and our expectations for our school community. I have made it clear that we cannot have hateful or hurtful language or behaviors at F.A.Day. For any student who is feeling targeted because of race, sexual orientation, social class, ethnicity, religion, physical and mental ability, I am encouraging them to trust the adults in the building and report incidents when they occur. Our students are going to make mistakes just as we adults sometimes make mistakes that cause hurt and pain to others. When we respond to a hurtful or hateful incident, we must always remember we are first and foremost a place of education and our responses must be reflective of this mission.
We want Day to be a place in which students feel safe, both physically and emotionally. Through our commitment to understanding different viewpoints and life experiences, engaging in meaningful discussions, and caring for others, we will succeed in creating a community at Day we are proud to be a part of.
As always, thank you for your support,
Image from The Newtonite