Our entire SPA faculty and staff met for our final Head’s Forum of the year last Thursday. Customarily, these year-end meetings are cheerful, in-person gatherings, a time to look back on the year, celebrate our achievements, and look ahead to summer work.
Our Thursday meeting was an unusually somber affair. We devoted much of our time together to reflect on the murder of George Floyd and its aftermath. Our community—faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni/ae—is grieving and angry. The video of George Floyd’s murder was another example of the crippling and lethal power of racism and a vivid reminder of America’s long history of racism. For our communities of color, no reminder of this is necessary.
In the last week, the SPA community has come together in many ways. We have created spaces for faculty and students of color to be with each other for conversation and connection with their colleagues, teachers, and counselors. We have also had community meetings for all faculty and staff; this has been a time to reflect, to listen and to discuss as we strive to understand the full impact and implications of Mr. Floyd's murder for our community. Many in our community attended protests, joined clean-up efforts, and helped their neighbors in need. Amid the volatility and anxiety, there have also been moments of comfort and inspiration.
At SPA, we must redouble our efforts to combat racism and assert the principles of justice and inclusivity that are the heart of a healthy society. We have had difficult discussions on race and inclusivity in our community, and we must continue to have sincere conversations and to listen with care and compassion to each other. And we must translate those discussions into action. Over the summer there will be conversations on race and community among faculty, staff, and students, and we have begun to explore new programming on racial injustice and inclusivity for the 2020-21 school year.
Our best and most important work will be in our classrooms, from Kindergarten through Grade 12. George Floyd’s death offered anguishing evidence of the dehumanization and the absence of empathy which are the roots of racial discrimination. SPA’s commitment to nurturing the habits and moral sensibilities that will enable our students to recognize and combat injustice is stronger than ever. We want SPA graduates to be empathetic and engaged citizens who tackle tough challenges and will know how to lead and marshal the energies of those around them to make just and fair choices in their lives. This commitment flows from our mission to shape the minds and hearts of the people who will change the world. We recognize that our work in this regard has just begun.
As always I appreciate your support. Please contact me with your comments or questions.
Bryn S. Roberts
Head of School