As a country, we pay lip service to caring about children and families. The lack of willingness to regulate guns as our children die in mass shootings should force us to ask whether we, as a nation, truly love children. I am thinking of the children of Uvalde and Parkland and Sandy Hook, their parents, the community, and all communities impacted by gun violence. They will never be the same. They will never truly recover, even as they come out the other side into an irrevocably changed world.
On Saturday and Sunday, we learned of two separate crimes on separate coasts linked by hate, violence, and racism. I have been feeling compelled to write to you about these events and the impact they have on our families and, ultimately, on our children. I want to be clear that these visible, extremist acts of terror signal the serious work we still need to do as a nation to create an equitable society where everyone belongs.
Turning Point School is pleased to announce its inaugural Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), Raúl González. Mr. González will join Turning Point in July 2022 as part of the senior leadership team reporting to Dr. Laura Konigsberg. He will work collaboratively with all departments and constituents to advance DEI initiatives and ensure the school furthers its strategic goal to drive a culture of inclusion and belonging.
Pretending the Holocaust and other horrific accounts in history can be taught in a palatable way is disrespectful and dangerous, especially in our polarized world. As educators, we have a responsibility to find age-appropriate ways to teach students real truths about the Holocaust and other atrocious historical events. Students need to understand the past—with all its disturbing and uncomfortable truths—to think critically and to examine their place in society and responsibility in creating a more just and equitable world.
Over the past five years, Turning Point has applied the lenses of equity, inclusion, and antiracism to approach teaching and learning, to guide our relationships with each other and our students, and to ensure that our school policies address systems that underlie inequities. I am thrilled to announce that we have synthesized and codified all this important work into a new webpage and accompanying PDF, Our Commitment to Equity, which I invite you to explore at the link below.
Our mission: We open our doors every day to create a dynamic learning community in which each child grows into their best self. This mission provides purpose and intentionality: we are committed to fostering the development of each child, every day so that they may thrive as citizens of a complex and interconnected world. Students learn that the gateway to personal fulfillment is inextricably connected to their experiences belonging to a dynamic learning community during their time at Turning Point School.
On this twentieth anniversary of 9/11, our children need to know that our community's commitment to justice is steadfast, because we owe it to them to help build a better world. Education is the key to combating stereotypes and building community across differences. As such, we have developed age-appropriate lessons to mark this 20th anniversary and to model hope and create dialogue. Please ask your child’s teacher for more information if you are curious.
One constant, no matter the year, is our children’s excitement to return to school, to get to know their new teachers, to connect with friends, and to re-establish routines. Whether in preschool or middle school—or somewhere in between—inhabiting a world separate from home provides our children with rich fodder for the development of their identities and esteem.
There is comfort amid uncertainty when our purpose remains unchanged. We become less “thrown” by the rollercoaster of uncontrollable circumstances when we focus on what drives our values, our joy, and our motivation. I saw this in the actions of our students this morning, as I watched them laugh, play, and connect with each other and with their teachers during Back-to-School Camp. While every child is certainly nuanced and different, overall they want to feel joyful, connected, safe, loving, and loved.
This past year has provided myriad challenges and has revealed innumerable gaps in my knowledge about the world. This was the year we had to shift from believing the world should show up a particular way to understanding—often painfully—that the world just shows up. We don’t get to choose our crises, but we can decide how to respond. This awareness has redoubled my commitment to educating the next generation and has clarified my calling as an educational leader.