Work to Be Done

I woke up Sunday morning feeling calmer and steadier. What a difference to have the presidential election resolved in this time of uncertainty. As the leader of a non-profit institution, I am not permitted to dive too deeply into partisan politics, but I am hopeful that as a nation we can heal the anxiety and division our country is experiencing. I think regardless of our political positions, we can appreciate President-Elect Biden’s promise “to lead with compassion, decency, and character and heal the nation’s soul.” Biden also addressed some long-standing “battles” that we as a country must unite to address:

  • Controlling the virus
  • Building prosperity
  • Securing health care for our families
  • Achieving achieve racial justice and rooting out systemic racism in this country
  • Saving the climate
  • Restoring decency, defending democracy, and giving everybody in this country a fair shot

This is our work to be done, and our children will inherit what is left of these challenges. We owe it to them to amplify our own commitments to these priorities. I feel re-energized to continue my efforts toward social change as one person among the multitudes working to “bend the arc of the moral universe more towards justice,” in the metaphor first envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and referenced by President-Elect Biden.

I get chills thinking about how, 100 years after women got the right to vote, Kamala Harris has been elected as the first female, Black, Indian-American Vice-President. I have been very moved by the exuberant responses of so many Americans who feel blessed that their daughters can see themselves in Vice President-Elect Harris and can, consequently, imagine unlimited possibilities for their futures. These outpourings of hope and optimism signal a world where all children can thrive—and as adults, we have a responsibility to lead the way by modeling our appetite for progress.

As a school community, we all have an opportunity to engage in this visionary work on Wednesday, November 11, from 9:30 – 11 am with Dr. Derrick Gay. I am very eager to continue our conversations on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, and I strongly encourage every parent to attend.

This will be the first of four Parent Education events with Dr. Gay this year; details will be forthcoming on the other three sessions but for now, I ask you to save the dates:

  • Wednesday, 1/20 | 9:30 – 11 am
  • Thursday, 3/4 | 6:30 – 8:00 pm
  • Tuesday, 5/11 | 6:30 – 8:00 pm

As we know from our Summer Community Read, being antiracist is not as simple as condoning the absence of racism. Antiracism as a mindset and practice requires us all to become proficient in the authentic history of our country, examine our own biases, and then commit to continual improvement—as individuals and as a society. If you are new to Turning Point or were not able to attend last year’s events (or would like a refresher), please listen to this interview with Dr. Gay about the challenges of racial discourse in independent schools.

Having worked with Dr. Gay for the past two years, Turning Point is well poised to move forward with our DEIJ work in a sustained, strategic way. In addition to the four parent education sessions, we have many initiatives planned for the year ahead, guided by Dr. Gay’s expertise:

  • The launch of affinity groups, which Dr. Gay has helped us structure in a way that will ensure they can be successfully implemented and conducted.
  • DEIJ training for our Board of Trustees (we have focused on diversifying the Board in terms of race, gender, and increasing the number of current parents, and Trustees have been very supportive of the work we have been doing with the curriculum and the parent and faculty/staff trainings).
  • The formation of a Board committee focused on diversity, inclusion, and equity.
  • Engagement in hiring workshops to ensure we are disrupting hiring processes and practices that perpetuate bias.
  • Specific ongoing training in DEIJ practices for our all-white administrative team.
  • Continued partnerships with Private School Village and Private School Axis (Turning Point is a founding member of both organizations).

As a white, female school leader, I continue to educate myself and reflect on my own biases and knowledge, and to serve in educational organizations beyond Turning Point. I am involved at the state-level of independent school leadership as a Board member of the California Association of Independent Schools, serving on its Antiracism Task Force, and am participating in antiracism work in two heads of schools‘ groups (one is multi-racial, which I co-facilitate; the other is a white affinity group, of which I lead the book group).

I share this all with you because I am aware I have been remiss in regularly communicating these efforts to the larger Turning Point community; while we do share our curricular work, I have not yet communicated these larger initiatives. In part, this is because the pandemic, accompanied by the ever-changing guidelines and updates, has required that my communication (and a good portion of my attention) address reopening efforts, and more recently because I have been focused on supporting the community through the upcoming election. But as I hope you can see, we have been putting plans in place for the ongoing work to be done for quite some time now.

Now that we have a pathway forward to gradual reopening due to the K-2 Waiver we received from the County last week and are also able to put the pre-election nerves behind us, I am grateful and gratified to return our focus to this critical work. I look forward to joining together—parents, faculty, staff, Trustees, and students—as we continue to deepen our understanding of social justice and ensure that respect, compassion, justice, and understanding serve as the yarn that weaves together our wonderful community.

Warmly,
Laura

Laura Konigsberg
Head of School
lkonigsberg@turningpointschool.org

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