This week we observed a moment of silence to honor those whose lives were lost in Haiti and in our own country due to Hurricane Matthew. Our national election is reaching fever pitch, and there continues to be conflict, hatred, fear, violence and misunderstanding in our cities, our countries and around the world.
It is ever more important that our students fully understand themselves, their gifts and the gifts of others. We are committed to ensuring that our students have a deep respect for others and curiosity about the context and world in which they live. Part and parcel of a Tower Hill education is the opportunity to grow as a human being and the expectation that we always can learn more.
Given the landscape of racial tensions in our country with tragic deaths of police and people of color, our students are craving a venue to have open dialogue on topics that often are deemed off limits or to hard to discuss.
Yesterday, we opened our Movies That Matter series with a screening of I’m Not Racist… Am I? for parents, and our Upper School students saw the documentary during the day. The film raises questions from the perspective of high school students about race and privilege, and how terms like discrimination, stereotype, prejudice and racism can be interpreted differently. At Tower Hill, we are committed to ensuring that our students respect one another, treat one another with kindness, and understand that in a complex world where equity and privilege are often unearned and uneven, we must engage in meaningful conversation in order to find better solutions to peace and understanding.
As we invest in a schoolwide conversation about inclusivity, I wanted to share this reflection on the term by Caroline Blackwell, Vice President for Equity and Justice at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS):
“Inclusion is an outcome, a desired state that is brought about when individuals and the differences they possess are given full regard and space for full and unqualified expression in a group, organization, community or society. Inclusion is an intelligent human ecosystem, chock-full of diverse and unique parts, that functions optimally with, and because of, each of them.”
Thank you to those who attended our first film and for engaging your children in age-appropriate ways to discuss kindness, respect and inclusivity. Tower Hill is committed to being a community where each child, parent, teacher and family can be fully themselves and feel at home.
I will be attending an INDEX conference in Chicago early next week where similar sized schools across the country get together annually to benchmark with and against each other, across all aspects of school life. I look forward to reporting back to you on findings, trends and where Tower Hill stacks up. Anthony Pisapia, our CIIO, will be leading a presentation on innovation, and I will be presenting on how schools create a culture of philanthropy, instilling the values of giving within our students and broader community.
Have a good weekend,
Elizabeth C. Speers