St. Margaret’s Message to Alumni and All Community Members
Dear St. Margaret’s Alumni and All Community Members,
We have read and thoughtfully reflected on an open letter that is being shared within our St. Margaret’s community from some concerned alumni asking the school to affirm its commitment to antiracist practices and educational programs and asking others to join in the call. Click here to read their message.
We highly value feedback from our alumni on their educational experience and preparation for life beyond St. Margaret’s to continually inform and improve our academic and student programs, and we commend our alumni for using their voices to speak out now on such an important matter.
Further, we echo the nationwide calls for active antiracist practices and education with our entire community as we did through two school communications and resources (June 1 message and June 5 message) in the wake of the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black lives at the hands of systemic racism in our nation. It is heartbreaking that now Rayshard Brooks and his life are added to a list that is too long to bear.
Importantly, we want to dispel any misunderstanding that misalignment exists in our St. Margaret’s administration’s outlook or perspective in this moment in time, nor in our school’s ongoing and continually evolving work around equity and inclusion. The Head of School and Director of Equity and Inclusion stood shoulder-to-shoulder in developing the messages and antiracist educational resources we issued in tandem and partnership speaking together as one unified St. Margaret’s voice.
Further, our ongoing, intentional schoolwide efforts, from the board room to the classroom, to advance diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) work and cultural competency skill development in our institutional practices and educational programs at St. Margaret’s are far from “one man’s fight.” We appreciate and recognize that all members of our professional community, including our Board of Trustees, have embraced and engaged in this work through professional development, active participation on the Equity Team and its subcommittees, workshops with visiting scholars like Yvonne Adams, Steven Jones, Robert Greene, and Rosetta Lee, collaboration with each other to implement culturally responsive teaching practices in the classroom, supporting and listening to our TIDE (Tartan Inclusion and Diversity Education) student leaders, attending conferences including the annual NAIS People of Color Conference and National Diversity Practitioners Institute with colleagues, accompanying students to the NAIS Student Diversity Leadership Conference and the Pollyanna Conference, advancing our hiring practices, supporting our efforts several years ago to create and hire the senior-administrative school position of Director of Equity and Inclusion, development of our fifth institutional Core Value of Equity and Inclusion, dedication to the success of Breakthrough SJC and Special Camp, exploring and reflecting on their own identities, and sharing personal experiences and perspectives with each other and importantly engaging in conversations, modeling and being vulnerable with our students. Our students and parent community have engaged and leaned into this work as well, and still we know there is more work to do.
Moreover, we also believe there is less daylight between our viewpoints and those expressed in the letter than would appear. Perhaps, any breakdown is in active communication and engagement with our alumni community about the ongoing progress and plans we are undertaking. For this, we see an important opportunity to move forward together, in partnership with the Tartan Alumni Association, to further engage our brilliant and valued alumni, the true embodiments of our St. Margaret’s mission, and their important voices in the conversation.
We will begin immediately as we, joined by St. Margaret’s Chaplain The Rev. K.C. Robertson, will host a virtual information webinar on Thursday, June 25 at 6 p.m. (PDT) for all St. Margaret’s alumni to tune in and hear about the state of our equity, inclusion and justice work and plans in this area. All members of the St. Margaret’s community are welcome to attend. We will share the same report we recently shared with the Board of Trustees and administrative leadership team.
To register for the alumni webinar and to submit questions in advance, please click here.
We will follow up this session with a virtual town hall style event for school leaders and alumni to come together in conversation in August after we start the 2020-2021 school year. Our Tartan Alumni Association has also agreed to engage in some one-on-one connections with alumni who have been in direct contact with the school already.
This painful, yet crucial moment in our nation has brought the reality of systemic racism and racial injustice forcefully back to the forefront of our collective consciousness and informs us that we must remain resolute and committed to change. We believe the discourse that is happening nationally and within our own St. Margaret’s community around systemic racism and racial injustice is rightly complex, dynamic, impassioned and, most importantly, necessary for each of us to evolve our own understanding and participation to affect real change in perspectives, actions and systems so that systemic racism is dismantled and replaced by systemic equity and systemic justice. As we have been discussing in many spaces recently, this is going to require each of us to do our part and be more than not racist, rather to be actively antiracist.
Tomorrow is Juneteenth, an important holiday and celebration of African American history and culture that marks the day in June 1865 when enslaved people in Texas, the last state in the U.S, learned they were emancipated. We encourage you to take this moment to read more about Juneteenth and its significance to Black and African American communities. Further, we encourage all Tartans to use the summer months to read and reflect on the texts and resources we have shared, including our recent community read of Bryan Stevenson’s "Just Mercy," as well as our summer professional community reading recommendations of "The Person You Mean to Be, How Good People Fight Bias," by Dolly Chugh, “Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race,” by Debby Irving, and Ibram X. Kendi’s book, “How To Be An Antiracist.”
While disagreement and grappling are inherent to the complexities of this work, in this moment in time, especially when so many hearts and minds are open to change, let us remain unified, supporting and listening to each other’s voices as we challenge and inform our perspectives and advance our practices in healthy dialogue that abides by our community principles and values.
As an Episcopal school community, we share a longstanding and ongoing commitment to equity, inclusion and justice. We believe this is the most important, impactful work of our institution, and we extend a sincere invitation to you and all Tartans to join in our commitment to antiracism, advancing antiracist systems and racial justice, and to further this work in our community and our nation.