Dear Gateway families,
I was very pleased that many of you were able to join our students and faculty at last week’s First Friday. We were all struck by the facts about food insecurity and hunger issues that affect the local and global community presented by our 6th graders, and inspired by their desire to make a difference through the canned food drive. Similarly, while the faculty dramatization of Can I Play Too? presented by David, Kurt and Sari brought out lots of laughs, the reflective conversation afterwards highlighted the complexity of creating an inclusive environment, and the challenge of navigating our inner feelings as we come to recognize, accept, and celebrate the uniqueness of each person and our own identities. And of course it was joyous to close the assembly with an all-school sing-along featuring an integrated performance by the 2nd Grade, 4th Grade, and Middle School Advanced Band (you can see the performance on our Facebook page!).
At Gateway we have nine core values, and the courage to promote a just society is one that inspires our faculty to reach beyond the core curriculum of academic knowledge and skills. As Sydney Chaffee eloquently said in her 2017 TedXBeaconStreet talk, “Teachers don’t just teach subjects, we teach people. When our students walk into their classrooms, they bring their identities with them. Everything they experience in our rooms is bound up in historical context, and so if we insist that education happens in a vacuum, we do our students a disservice.“ Fostering these conversations is challenging, because it means surfacing hidden assumptions that we don’t even know we hold.
Our Social Justice & Equity Committee, comprised of faculty and administrators, continues to lead our school-wide efforts to deepen our practice of effective social justice education. With a commitment to actively question our biases, promote educational experiences and conversations that deepen our understanding of social justice, and honor our authentic selves and hold the space in safety, we have begun to examine how subjects and content are taught across grades. In prior years we have focused on the areas of gender identity and neurological profiles; this year, our work has focused on adopting the Anti-Bias framework from Teaching Tolerance into the Middle School Humanities curriculum, and piloting relevant and developmentally aligned content across grades as appropriate.
As we head into the holiday season, with so much to be thankful for, we hope that this critical work will enable us to translate our empathy for others — that is, feeling with them — into compassion, and directly towards taking action to relieve their suffering and improve their lives. Thank you for all you do to model this for our children.
Prior 2018-19 Head of School blog posts on Gateway’s core values:
September: Integrity and responsibility
October: Meta-cognition and self-reflection
November: Play, creativity and innovation
Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School