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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Social Justice

Posted by on in Leadership

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I attended a vigil on Sunday night to honor. A vigil marred by two tragedies - the hatred and violence occurring in Charlottesville, and a triple shooting that resulted in the death of a 25-year-old young man in Cumberland County. The turnout, the raw passion of the stories shared, and our community response on that night was humbling and inspiring. It is an event that I will remember. I hope that it helps to serve as a turning point in our area and for our community. There is a lot of work to do in the fight against racism, hatred, and injustice, but I believe that we are ready for the fight.

Fight. Now that’s a funny word. Fight may have a violent connotation. Some would like to refrain from using it. Some feel that it conflicts with peace and love. I wholeheartedly disagree.

Merriam-Webster, in defining the word “fight,” lists seven explanations. Only 2 of the seven definitions listed are violent. The majority of definitions revolve around putting forth a determined effort, struggling, enduring.Those interpretations describe struggles we face today, those for equality, equity, and justice.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi - they fought. Inspired by Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance in the Salt March, Dr. King utilized the same nonviolent tactics to fight during the Civil Rights Movement. They both looked violence in the face, and they fought. They did not respond violence with violence; they approached it with truth, conviction, and passion. We need to do the same today, and we should expect the same from our elected leaders.

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Posted by on in School Culture

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We didn’t do anything.

 

She transferred here from a different school. I don’t know why. She was mostly quiet, but it was not difficult to get a smile out of her. She said she wasn’t good in science, but was killing it in chemistry, perhaps the hardest science of all. I’d like to think that in the 3 months I knew her, I reached her and got to know her a little.

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Posted by on in Leadership

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There I was, standing in the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center staring in awe at the Gettysburg Cyclorama painting while listening to the story of Pickett's Charge with my students. Hearing the story of the bloodiest battle in the Civil War, with more than 51,000 casualties, immediately made my head spin. 

Events of this magnitude are hard for us to fathom. At one point, I turned to my students and we started to discuss how people were willing to take such a hard stand and fight and die for the freedom of others. Imagine seeing the oppression and abuse from slavery and finally deciding that this was not acceptable. What goes through the minds of people upon realizing that they may die to obtain liberty for a group of people that they do not identify with?

While there were people ready to make the ultimate sacrifice to change the lives of others, surely there were others who were not willing to get involved. What were these people doing during these times of struggles? Were they sitting home nestled in the safety of their carefully crafted reality ignoring what was unfolding around them? Did they lean toward one side or did their opinions reflect a more ambiguous mindset? What did their silence say about them?

Here we are in 2016, over 153 years removed from the Battle of Gettysburg and the looming end of the Civil War and slavery. We are still witnessing acts of violence and intolerance directed towards people who are minorities in our country. We have a president-elect who continues to stoke the flames of hatred and inequality by appointing a self-proclaimed racist as his chief strategist, who owns stock and has financial interests in a company trying to push our indigenous brothers and sisters off their land, and who continues to appoint individuals to positions of power that have histories of standing against what America stands for. 

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

 

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I have experienced so many emotions since learning that 25.5% of this country voted to elect Donald Trump as the next president of our country. Mad, angry, shocked, frustrated, betrayed, scared, and worried are just a few of the feelings that have flooded me. As an educator and a student of human emotion, I understand that love is the only answer to all the issues that this country is facing.

This is why I choose love, but there are things that we need to discuss. Love does not involve blindly accepting what is given to you. Love means questioning and exposing things that need addressing. Love requires us to feel uncomfortable and to take risks to better ourselves. Tough love is an absolute necessity if we are going to move forward and obtain any kind of peace.

Before you read on, I need you to recognize that you might not be ready for the kind of love that I am going to dish out. Real love requires brutal honesty and a step outside of the very comfortable confines of the realities that we have created for ourselves. I ask that you proceed with an open-mind and recognize that this entire piece is grounded in nothing but love for my fellow human. If we are going to continue moving this country forward, we need everyone to embrace love and stand together.

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

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Last week, I wrote a piece about some looks that my students received on a field trip . It was an eye-opening experience for me that demanded immediate attention and reflection. I  shared the piece with my learning network and over all of my social media sites, but how could it end there? How could I create change in the lives of my students if they didn't know about this experience? This is what happened when I shared with them.

We had some time at the end of my classes on Thursday, so I decided to read the piece to my kids. While reading, I gauged the reactions and stopped where it seemed necessary. Each class wanted to talk about different things, but the overall response was the same. They were angry and upset with the reactions that they received, but they were also happy. They were appreciative that I spoke up on their behalf and that I spent the time to write about them. One class broke out into applause when I finished reading to them.

The next day it was time to talk about the piece and dig deep into some tough conversations with my students. They knew it was coming and they were ready. I did not expect my students to come as hard and as real as they did.

I started the conversation by declaring the classroom a safe place. I reminded my students that this conversation would not be easy for some to talk about. I told them that we needed to support each other, show love and appreciation, and not judge the actions or thoughts of anyone. I informed them that what we said in the room, stayed in the room. Everyone in the class agreed to these basic rules and we moved forward.

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