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From the Principal
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 9:50 AM

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Dear families,

Throughout my formative years, there were a number of incidents and relationships that impacted the way in which I constructed meaning about race in my own life. I have a memory of the first time I realized that I was White. In Montessori School, I remember vividly, my encounter with Justin Porter. A few weeks into school, the teachers were preparing us for a new student that would be joining our class. When Justin arrived, I, like most of the students in my all-White class, was fascinated to see a Black student. I approached to welcome him and upon shaking his hand noticed two things, – one was that his hand felt coarser to the touch than anyone with whom I had ever shook hands with before and also, his hair and skin had a smell that was foreign to me – probably due to some hair products or lotion that had not been used in my home. I turned and said something to one of my friends about my observations and was quickly whisked away into a corner by one of the teachers. At the time, she told me that I was being racist and that she never wanted me to say anything ever again about how this boy was different. At four years old, it was modeled for me that I should not see difference, in particular, with people who were racially different from me.
 

Our differences shape our identity and our lived experiences in our communities, schools, and workplaces. Differences in the classroom help us grow and truly provide our children with healthy doses of cognitive dissonance that expand our minds and our perspectives. It is extremely difficult in a society that has such a deep history of institutional and individual oppression to know how to navigate our differences in ways that don’t perpetuate this historical marginalization…or lead to guilt or shame. As a staff, we continue to explore ways to build community while honoring our differences in authentic ways. Developing will, skill, knowledge, and capacity of our community in these areas is one of the potential gifts of Barton. We honor the generational and ethnic diversity in our community as part of an ethnic festival in the spring. Our student leaders in Dare 2 Be Real are learning with and from each other about how to be allies for racial justice. A team of teacher leaders spent a day last week collaborating on an “equity walk” of our building, looking at ways to deepen their practice as progressive teachers and leaders. In kindergarten through 8th grade, our teachers continue to develop curriculum in language arts, music, art, science, social studies, and math (I could go on) that incorporates topics that require students to think and collaborate about the facts they learn rather than just memorize them for a test. I am grateful for our differences.

Patrick
 

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