January 21, 2019
- Thursday, January 24 - 9:00 am Winter Concert (Gr. 5 Chorus, Gr. 4/5 Strings, Gr. 5 Band)
- Friday, January 25 - 6:30 pm PTO Movie Night
- Tuesday, January 29 - 6:30 Gr. 2/3 Math Night (Snow Date: Feb. 5)
- Friday, February 1 - 8:45 am Principal's Parent Coffee
- Friday, February 8 - Science Fair
- Tuesday, February 12 - Gr. 4/5 Math Night (Snow Date: Feb. 26)
- February 18-22 - School Vacation Week
Thoughts for Martin Luther King Day
Three events at school last week touched my core belief that educators have an opportunity and a responsibility to make the world a better place – by teaching respect, promoting understanding and working to change inequities in our society.
First, last Monday, our faculty participated in a workshop to learn more about gender identity and gender expression led by Jeff Perroti, the director of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students. Jeff helped us understand the difference between gender, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. He also talked about the power of “micro-affirmations” (as opposed to micro-aggressions) to help people feel supported. Using a preferred name and preferred pronouns are examples of micro-affirmations. He asked us to think about the language we use and to avoid language that is exclusionary (e.g. “Boys and girls.”). He also talked about how to work with families of children who may be transitioning – to follow their lead and to plan for who needs to know what and when.
Second, on Thursday night, our staff organized the annual Passport Night. As a newcomer to this community, I was blown away by the celebration of different countries’ cultures. The sense of pride that students and families took in sharing their culture and the eagerness with which students approached learning about different countries was palpable. (See below for some pictures).
Third, on Friday, our school gathered for All School Meeting in honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Students watched a video montage of Dr. King’s speeches set to music. The fifth grade led a powerful recitation of his most famous “I Have a Dream” speech followed by a few groups sharing their research project on other human rights activists. Two fifth graders shared their research about the METCO program and Lexington’s proud history as one of the founding communities 50 years ago, as well as what it means for them to participate. I spoke with the students about Dr. King’s message of making change through non-violence. We played the song “Happy Birthday,” written by Stevie Wonder that helped sway public opinion in favor of creating a national holiday in the 1980’s.
Teaching respect and promoting understanding is work that must be ongoing throughout the school year. Passport Night and All School Meeting are public ways for us to make a statement about this work. However, there is other, less public work, that is happening every day. When we help students resolve a conflict at recess, we are teaching them to engage through dialogue. When we discuss issues during class meetings, we teach students to listen with understanding and empathy. When our students write opinion pieces with reasons and supporting evidence, we teach them to think and communicate with clarity and precision. And when we give them choice in their topic, we help learn to develop a voice for self-expression.
At the conclusion of Monday’s workshop, Jeff Perroti read the beautiful poem “Last Fragment” by Raymond Carver, written just before his death:
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
Whether working on issues of gender identity, race or socio-economic differences, this poem reminds us that, ultimately, it is about being loved and accepted. Isn’t that what we want for our children?
As we observe the Martin Luther King holiday, I invite you to join in the ongoing work to teach respect, to promote understanding and to address inequities. Working together, I believe we can help our children arrive at new understandings.