At Turning Point School, we know that discomfort is essential for growth—for our students and for ourselves. In those moments when we are faced with a challenge or an unknown, it is the decision to engage in discomfort that usually helps us solve our dilemmas and gain valuable experience. Discomfort also builds wisdom.
As Head of School, I have opportunities to stretch myself each day. I know that the siren’s song of the status quo can be seductive, and it is only by constantly seeking opportunities to challenge perceptions that I grow as an individual and the school grows as an institution.
Last week, along with six colleagues from Turning Point, I attended the thirtieth anniversary of the National Association of Independent Schools’ People of Color Conference in Anaheim, focusing on diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice.
I was inspired, moved, and humbled to be among 6,000 educators committed to creating safe and sacred spaces where our students can feel welcomed, and indeed encouraged, to challenge themselves and others. As a white educator in the minority, I was there to listen respectfully and to find ways to use my influence and privilege to create more opportunities for all our students to feel affirmed and included.
It is both painful and liberating to examine my own stories and history to understand the lens through which I see the world, but it is essential that all educators do this work so that we can bring to our teaching more self-awareness, including our biases and assumptions. In the end, this process helps us to connect more authentically to others. Relationships are at the heart of schools, and sharing our imperfect histories can help us as educators listen to, understand, and empathize with a wider range of people’s experiences, and to think critically and compassionately about how to effect positive change toward a more just, equitable, and sustainable future. We model these mindsets, gifts, and skills for our students, who will inherit our imperfect world and, we trust, make it more prosperous for all.
While I was at PoCC, I thought about the fruitful conversation at our “Mission in Mind” parent coffee earlier that week. When asked to reflect on a story or moment that crystalizes what they appreciate about Turning Point, parents shared many different stories and perspectives. But several consistent themes emerged. Turning Point produces confident learners who are: unafraid to share their thinking and points of view; passionate advocates for themselves, peers, and critical issues; self-motivated, independent leaders and thinkers; and empathic, respectful conflict resolvers. Time and again I heard that Turning Point students are known, appreciated, and valued as individuals.
I return to Turning Point more open-hearted, and encouraged that in our diverse community Turning Point already fosters the qualities students need to prepare for a pluralistic and complex world. Incorporating diverse perspectives into an inclusive learning environment is best practice for all schools and students, as many Turning Point teachers already know and execute. It is also, simply, the right thing to do. I am honored to continue this work alongside my colleagues at Turning Point School and across the country, and of course, in partnership with our parents.
I look forward to including you in this journey, and hope you will mark your calendars for Wednesday, January 17 from 8:30 – 10 am for our next Parent Speaker Series event: Diversity = Excellence. Elizabeth Denevi, the Associate Director for Mid West Educational Collaborative will share research that demonstrates why diverse and inclusive school communities increase critical thinking and problem-solving skills for all children. Please plan to join me as we continue this important conversation.
Dr. Laura Konigsberg
Head of School