As the weeks fly by in another school year, our students have quickly gotten back into their routines – focusing on academics, participating in extracurricular activities and finding ways to make a difference in the community. It is unfortunate that, in the background of all of these positives, a negative, divisive undertone is creating so much distraction in our society, and the tragedy in Las Vegas this week only exasperates this negativity further. Our thoughts are with all of those impacted by this senseless act.
As our students are surrounded by these nasty, hateful images and behaviors on television and social media and hearing an increasingly negative, non-inclusive dialogue throughout our country and beyond, they may ask questions to better understand these events and form opinions of their own. Therefore, I recognize that it is important for us as a school district to take a clear stand on what is acceptable and what is not acceptable for Mariemont City Schools. I have shared this message with our staff and now I share it with you: As a school district, we support and encourage all of our students, staff and their families regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or any other individual characterization, and we will not tolerate any acts of hate or exclusion.
But having a stance alone is not enough. I want you to be aware of another important step Mariemont City Schools has taken regarding these issues. Two years ago we launched the district-wide Global and Cultural Perspectives Committee and I am optimistic for the work it has already done and will continue to do to help us increase our knowledge and understanding of global competency and culturally proficient practices and combat these issues happening in the world within our own schools and community.
Headed by Mariemont Elementary principal Ericka Simmons, the Global and Cultural Perspectives Committee is made up of teachers and staff members from throughout the district. The vision of the committee is to build an equitable, inclusive and responsive learning community that values the dignity and uniqueness of all students, staff and members of the community. It is important to educate ourselves on the implications that any cultural biases can have in our classrooms – and our committee’s vision is a great step in this direction. As a district, we must strive to live by this principle every day in order to create the best experience for all students.
For more information on what the Global and Cultural Perspectives committee is, the work it is doing and the effect it has had on our district, I encourage you to listen to the upcoming edition of the ConnectME podcast which will be released later this month. In the meantime, I believe we all can take a few steps as we interact with each other to be inclusive and promote productive dialogue:
- Become aware of our own personal biases.
- Model compassion on a daily basis.
- Teach tolerance and demonstrate tolerance with our actions.
- Be an active upstander, not a silent bystander.
- Ask questions. Seek out resources to learn more and get answers.
It is all of our actions and words that will go a long way to creating the leaders of tomorrow who can help us better navigate and appreciate our similarities and differences in a global society.