“I like your nail polish. Does the green mean anything?” It had been a relaxing and enjoyable Formal Dinner, and I didn’t want to dampen the mood. Yet, I believe in always being truthful with students and, after all, one of the reasons I was wearing it was precisely to start conversations on the topic. “It’s Sandy Hook green,” I said. And the table did indeed get quieter.
Yesterday, I attended a day-long conference sponsored and hosted by Vermont Academy. The idea was to send teams, or “pods,” from each attending school representing different constituencies, and emerge from the day with a personal action plan to bring back to our school. I attended with four students from our school and Shawn Durrett, our Dean of Faculty and an English teacher.
Amia Tyrae Berryman. Say her name. Say her name. The media didn’t. They used the name she was given at birth when her sex was assigned male, in an article on her murder. On March 26, 2018, she became the seventh trans woman to be killed this year, and the fourth Black trans woman.
During advisory lunch on Monday, one of my eighth grade advisees asked why people might not want to arm teachers. The conversation quickly shifted to our school’s policies around lockdowns and other policies meant to help keep kids safe, so we ran out of time before her question was really answered. I told her I hadn’t forgotten the original question, and said maybe we could talk on Wednesday.
by Gabrielle (Bri) Rooks '18
Sometimes, I find myself thinking about all the things I would change in our world. For example, ending world hunger or helping to reduce poverty rates. The list seems endless. I can think about these topics hours on end, even finding myself having long discussions with my peers about how we need to change the world. Now I sit here ashamed because I don’t want to just sit and complain about all the things that need to be changed but I need to get up and do something. I have so much respect for those people who try to make an impact. I want to give back to the world that has given so much to me.
Every day, when I walk into my classroom, I’m thinking “Who are these kids, what do they need in general, and what does it look like they need today?” To my thinking, good pedagogy is quite simply that which enables me to know the answers to those questions and fulfill those needs.
When Frances McDormand ended her epic Oscars thank you speech with the two words, “Inclusion rider,” I’ll admit I was one of millions of viewers who wasn’t sure what exactly she meant. It had the feel of “freedom riders,” and if so, I loved the ideas of finding strength in taking definitive action and of not quitting until the world becomes a better place.
“I am not a pretty girl. That is not what I… do.” - ani difranco
It’s 10 days after Parkland and, while some of the initial rawness has subsided, I know many teachers who are still having difficulty sleeping, having nightmares when they do get to sleep, crying on basically a daily basis. While one of my colleagues and I were discussing actions the kids here are resolving to take, she told me, choking back tears, “I just feel so helpless.” My office mate and I had a long conversation yesterday in which she pointed out she was so young when Columbine happened that she can’t remember a time when we didn’t have to worry about school shootings. She’s profoundly angry about that, and goodness knows I would be.
In writing up Sonia Nazario’s keynote speech for the Fenn School Multicultural Educators’ Forum, I deliberately left out a number of details in order to focus on the central story. While it makes a smoother narrative and hopefully helps focus on the power of her story, it neglects some important facts and details she deliberately and skillfully wove in. Among them:
Sonia Nazario began her powerful keynote speech for the Fenn School Multicultural Educators’ Forum by telling her own story. Born in the U.S., the daughter of immigrants, her parents’ home of Argentina was at the time a place where simply possessing and/or sharing knowledge (especially the truth about what was happening in the country) was seen by the government as so dangerous it could get you killed. She grew up being told she was the “dumb jock” in the family and, being the only brown kid in her school, was not counseled to go to college. She nonetheless enrolled at Williams College, where it was quite hard for her at the start. But her immigrant determination served her well, as it has helped our country, and she eventually realized the other students were not smarter than her, they were simply better prepared.