Dear Beaver Families,

I am now well into my second week on campus, having officially started June 29. There are only a few of us here every day, which means I’m easing into meeting staff members and understanding their duties and responsibilities. Traffic along Woodland Road is scarce, which I hear is not the norm, so my experience thus far is proving to be unusual, to say the least!

My email to you today focuses on two things that are on the minds of the BVR community:

  1. How Beaver is going to build a more actively antiracist community.
  2. The work we're doing to prepare for reopening in September.
Building a more actively antiracist community
I am proud to be the Head of a school where our Black students and alumni are speaking out as part of a national movement.

Earlier today, I posted this video to the Beaver Instagram story speaking directly to students. I used Instagram because I know that’s where many of our students are, and more specifically, it’s the platform our Black students and alumni have been using to share their experiences. In addition, students are also receiving this email.

Beaver faculty and staff stand ready to listen, learn, and act.

While Beaver has prioritized creating a diverse and inclusive community for a long time, I want to be clear about our commitment to becoming a more actively antiracist community, beginning with looking at ourselves and where we can do better. We know that kind of commitment needs to be unwavering and must be part of our everyday lives.

After several months of conversation and planning that began last fall, we have adjusted our administrative structure to better support that ongoing work. In late March, we made the decision to expand our Upper School administration to include a Director and an Assistant Director of Student Life and Equity. We hired Jimmy Manruyu for the Director’s position and Elisha Cho—US Spanish teacher and Dean for the Class of 2020—has accepted a new role as the Assistant Director. Joe Christy, who has served as Beaver’s Director of Engagement and Inclusion, will partner more closely with Tiffany Marsh in the Middle School to support the ongoing work in that division.

Changing the administrative structure of our diversity, equity, and inclusion work does not mean we have changed our philosophy that this is everyone’s work. Every teacher, administrator, staff member, student—our entire community—needs to take responsibility. This structural change makes it an even stronger priority and gives support to the work that lies ahead.

One of the many outcomes I hope will be to clarify and expand the pathways of communication and increase accountability. Students who experience painful acts of injustice, intentional or not, that stem from long-standing systemic racism in this country, will have a safe place to report them and people they trust to help us in our active commitment to antiracism.

It is incumbent upon institutions like Beaver, built upon a foundation of privilege, not only to focus on diversity and accessibility to excellent education but also to use their positions of relative power as leverage in fighting systemic racism. This will not just be an area of focus for the short term; it will be an ongoing area of priority.
Preparing for September
I am sure many of you were hoping this email might answer questions related to the reopening of school this fall.

No decisions have been made at this point. That said, the guidelines from the MA Department of Education—which were released at the end of June—have helped focus our administrative attention on the protocols that need developing between now and mid-August in order to reduce health risks and get students back in school this September.

We know it will be important to apply the CDC guidelines and embed within our culture those practices, which, when used in combination, have been shown to reduce health risks related to COVID-19. These include the use of masks/face coverings, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and staying home when sick.

In addition, Beaver is combining efforts with several independent schools in the area to hire Environmental Health & Engineering (EH&E). EH&E will provide guidance and technical support, and will deliver a set of good and best practices at the beginning of August on how to reduce risk as we reopen. We’ll review these recommendations before we make any final decisions.

I also want to offer assurance that the pandemic is not going to change Beaver’s mission and mindset. We remain committed to expanding the nature of school and with that focus, students will continue to create content, develop skills, collaborate, and engage in real-world experiences.

There are a lot of questions that will not have answers until mid-August, but between now and then we are committed to keeping you and your children apprised of what is under consideration. You will continue to hear fairly regularly from me and from key administrators in your student’s division.
These are uncertain times and they require a creative, nimble, and innovative approach. I am deeply grateful for the fact that these are the cornerstones of the BVR community. My enthusiasm for joining the Beaver continues to grow!

If you would like to reach out to me directly, I invite you to email me at ksamson@bcdschool.org.

Thank you for your patience and flexibility.

Be safe and stay healthy.

Head of School