Dear Gateway families,
I was fortunate to witness two extraordinary events in our program on Monday, December 10th.
In the morning, archeologist Dustin McKenzie spoke with our Third Grade students about the lives of the indigenous people of this area, while examining artifacts including a mortar estimated to be over 1,000 years old that was found in the backyard of a Gateway family, as well as chert knives and atlatl (spear-throwing devices). Mr. McKenzie spoke about how these tools would have been used in the daily lives of indigenous people and why it’s important to contact archeologists when native artifacts are found, to a sea of raised hands and questions bursting on the lips of students.
In the afternoon, the curtain went up on our Middle School theater elective production of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton for our Upper School students, with a second show for families in the evening. The story of two groups of teenagers struggling to find their place in the world, over the course of 90 minutes our students brought alive the joy, despair and conflict of these nuanced characters. While some of our students are committed actors, for others this elective was the first time they had ever been in a play, and the class provided the chance for them to try something new in a safe, supportive setting.
These two interdisciplinary experiences gave students the opportunity to think and use the behaviors of scholarship, citizenship, compassion and justice that sit at the heart of our mission. The students (both audiences and actors) were deeply and fully engaged in the activities; they were intellectually curious about the ideas presented and discussed; and they were open-hearted to the needs and experiences of others, and the way other people’s lives unfold. By grappling with how to responsibly act if you discover an indigenous artifact, what to do in the face of unfair social pressures and constraints, and how to reconcile the good and bad deeds in our lives, these educational experiences captured the essence of our educational model, and I was grateful to all of the faculty and staff who helped make them possible.
Speaking of being grateful, in the run-up to the gift giving that characterizes the season, several people have asked me for help with resources to find books written by authors from diverse backgrounds, including race, gender, sexual identity, and more. I want to use this opportunity to share the diversebooks.org resources with our community. The research is clear that children experience better academic outcomes when they have more books at home; as we intentionally move towards fostering healthy perspectives on diversity and equity, having books written by authors from diverse backgrounds dealing with diverse topics becomes an effective tool for families to reinforce messages of inclusion and justice to children.
Cheers to you all as 2019 winds to a close; I hope to see you at the Winter Solstice Festival put on by the Gateway Family Association on December 18th!
Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School