Dear Gateway families,
In the second half of the 20th century, the world experienced a powerful transformation towards a globalized economy and society. From shifting geopolitical boundaries and the rise of continental political organizations, to military alliances and the proliferation of multinational corporations and free trade zones, human society was more tightly bound together than ever before in an interconnected web of dependencies.
The new administration in Washington D.C. will undoubtedly have a significant impact on how our country chooses to move forward as a global leader in the years to come. This impact will reverberate around the world, and it will be felt here at home, and in independent schools too. Though our school will remain apolitical from the structure of American politics, we have some core values and essential beliefs that have risen to the top of my mind as I consider this shifting landscape.
First, I am committed more than ever to ensuring that the social and emotional environment for our children is one of inclusion and diversity. We explicitly aim to promote values of mutual respect, non-violence, participation and ethical behavior through the intersection of the academic work in our curriculum and the various elements of our social-emotional program, including RULER, Voices, and mindfulness. We also teach skills of communication, leadership, and responsibility through academic, artistic, and social contexts, such as 4th grade students learning to take turns in a discussion without raising hands (truly, this is no small feat!). Of course conflicts and challenges will occur between students; Gateway’s promise is not that everything is smooth sailing, but that we always address the issues that arise with compassion and an eye towards using teachable moments as an opportunity to build our community.
Second, my belief in the value of being responsible participants in the global community has been affirmed. From an international perspective, our school is wonderfully diverse. At last year’s One World Day, Gateway families from 22 different countries set up booths to educate students about the history and traditions of their cultural lineages. In the last few years many of our families have had fantastic opportunities to go on sabbatical or take job transfers for six months or a year, to places including England, Japan, and South Africa, and their experiences have brought valuable discussions into our classrooms. And today we are delighted to be hosting five visiting middle school students from China for two weeks, and providing them with an immersion experience into American schooling and culture.
Third, I am reminded of the incredible importance of teaching our students to be active citizens of this country, and this will remain an important priority for Gateway. In its broadest terms, citizenship means educating the next generation of citizens for participation in our democratic society. Our children will need to understand the systems and processes of government on one hand, and on the other they need to be able to sort through a wash of competing information to arrive at well-reasoned conclusions and decisions about how they will participate and the issues for which they will advocate. Another element of citizenship means taking time to serve others, and I am pleased that a committee of faculty has begun designing a plan that will allow us to implement authentic service learning curriculum throughout the school.
Our mission and core values speak directly to the ideas of compassion, academic success and civic engagement while promoting environmental stewardship and social justice. We have a grand opportunity to bring these ideals to life in the years ahead.
Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School