It Takes Courage

Dear Gateway families,

Among our school’s nine stated core values is the courage to promote a just society. Gateway has always believed in and advocated for social justice because at the core of social justice is the concept of human rights — that all humans have shared rights. In American society, very specific racist, sexist, and other structural biases and ways of looking at the world prevent those universal rights from being respected.

This year I am participating in an affinity group for white Heads of School as we explore our own leadership related to issues of race and justice. This group is run through the California Association of Independent Schools, of which we are proud members (and the only K-8 in Santa Cruz to have a membership). On Monday, we discussed this video, which expertly weaves together facts about post-slavery vagrancy laws, Jim Crow, redlining, the GI Bill, voting rights, the War on Drugs, police militarization, and more to explain how American society has continually oppressed and marginalized Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

Our children deserve a more free and fundamentally fair society and will be called upon to help create that more perfect manifestation of our potential. We must help them be prepared for the work. If you are looking for some good books to read with your children, consider the options on the reading lists from Bookshop Santa Cruz and Read Brightly.

Though the Social Justice Standards from Teaching Tolerance give us a pathway to ensure our curriculum rises to the opportunity, external forces continually introduce new challenges. Over the past 11 months, in the midst of a global pandemic, we have also had to navigate twin national reckonings in the form of social protests about the systemic oppression and murder of Black people and a bitterly fought presidential election in which the very nature of truth and justice have been contested. 

The current moment is a study in contrast. The course of the pandemic surges towards a deadly second wave, while news reports of effective vaccine trials give hope of a light at the end of the tunnel. The President has made unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, and yet we are soon to witness history as Senator Kamala Harris becomes the first woman and the first person of color to be elected Vice President.

Through this all, our teachers have been a beacon of light and stability for students, whether in our Virtual Campus or On-Campus program. They continue to provide an environment in which children thrive academically and emotionally, fulfill children’s potential and prepare them for college and life beyond, and guide children to become well-rounded and productive members of society. For example, if you have not yet seen it, I hope you take some time to read When Data Met Candy, a story about some of the data science learning underway in our Middle School.

Gateway’s mission calls us to inspire children to lead lives of purpose and compassion through scholarship and citizenship. I could not be more proud of our community, and how we are rising to meet the challenges of the moment.

I keep a picture of the Cowardly Lion in my office, to continually remind me: it takes courage!


Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School