Dear Meridian Families,

This has been an extraordinary year. Globally, we’re coming together to ride through a pandemic. Nationally, we’re engaging with one another to overcome centuries of racial injustice and oppression. And we, as a Meridian Family, are working hard to create an open-minded rigorous education and caring environment for all families and staff, while keeping our community safe and healthy.

This is also a milestone year here at Meridian: Ten Years, Lifting Voices. We celebrate going into our tenth year of Raising Lifelong Learners and Leaders. We began in 2011 as risk-takers, and we move into this year with the legacy of the International Baccalaureate’s mission to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

We begin teaching our youngest students the values outlined in the IB Learner Traits and we return to those again and again as our students grow, but perhaps never more than we have this summer as we, both students and adults, have recognized that we must do more to embody them, to make a difference for each other, our school, and our community. This year may not look like years past, but we’re here for you and your family. 

Students, your counselors are here to help you. Your mental health matters. Whether you need additional support for academic planning, short-term counseling related to school, distance learning, and the world we live in right now, or help working through challenges, we welcome and encourage you to go directly to your counselor or a trusted teacher or other adult. 
We’ve spent the summer preparing for re-opening, sourcing PPE and technology aids for distance learning, and hiring additional staff to assist with on campus learning.

Here’s where we are now on COVID-19 preparations: 
  • We have drafted our safety procedures for on-campus learning, and are currently completing a Health Operations Guidebook with input from the state and our local health district. We will share a draft with parents through the School Health Advisory Committee and staff members prior to presenting to the Board of Directors on August 27.
  • A COVID-19 Updates section to our website includes webinar recordings, updates, and distance learning resources. 
  • We will reopen the school to on-campus learning when it is deemed safe to do so. Right now, that date is tentatively set for September 8 if COVID-19 cases in Williamson County decline over the next few weeks. The Board could, however, decide to extend that period for an additional four weeks. We are watching the area health data very closely.
  • Commitment forms will be sent closer to re-opening, along with our Health Operations Guidebook.
This summer, we committed to take action on our responsibility to our students, families, and staff of color. We recognize that antiracist work is ongoing work.

Here’s where we are now on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:
  • Keynote speaker Dr. Angela Ward kicked off a week of professional development for staff with a thoughtful presentation of how best to support our students in a time of social unrest. 
  • We are in the process of hiring a facilitator to provide anti-bias training and an opportunity for critical conversations with our staff.
  • An Equity section on our website includes resources and updates, and will grow to include input and shared experiences from students and families of color, as well as a celebration of culture from around the country and the world. 
  • The Equity Committee (a part of the Advisory Council) will work through how we can positively impact our school culture. This group will include staff, parents, alumni and students. Fill out this Google Form if you're interested in learning more or joining. The first meeting is September 24 at 6 pm. 
  • The Meridian Alumni Collective has come together to offer insight and input into Meridian’s path forward in three areas: student support, faculty training, and disciplinary procedures. As a start, we are examining our referral process to root out potential biases.
  • Meridian Staff have formed a “Better Together Book Club” to support the hard work further developing our school community as one that embodies educational equity for all students and promotes a culture that values, includes and respects all races equally. 
  • In another opportunity, “Exploring Equity through the Art of Film,” staff will come together through the shared experience of watching and then discussing selected films focused on American Black experiences through history to modern times.
  • The Conversation Continues: Race Matters, was kicked off in June by Monique Swain and her husband Lenard. The Swains will continue to host conversations centered on race relations and cultural diversity within the Meridian community. These conversations have been an outlet for sharing, hearing, and exploring personal experiences and viewpoints from parents, students, and staff. Parents and students are invited to join future conversations to be held every two weeks on Sundays at 8:30 am, with the next one scheduled for Sunday, August 30. Fill out this Google Form if you’re interested in attending. 
As we enter our tenth year, we are reminded that your support these last nine years has propelled us forward as a thriving school community reaching almost 2,000 students and alumni who will go on to change the world.

And your support this year keeps us thriving through this extraordinary time. Many of you have asked how you can help and what you can donate to ensure student and staff safety. When you give to our Annual Fund, you give us the greatest flexibility to meet our changing needs this year, from hiring additional support staff to purchasing PPE, technology, and devices for students. 
I close this year's message on a personal note.

I am undergoing heart bypass surgery August 28, and I will be home recovering through Fall Break. We have a strong, vibrant community at Meridian, and I leave the school in great hands while I recover. Karalei Nunn, our Founder and COO, will be the acting Head of School during my absence. If necessary, please feel free to contact her at I look forward to returning to duty October 12.

Your dedication and commitment to starting this school year off so successfully and creatively in spite of so many challenges has been wonderful to witness.

We're stronger together as a Meridian Family, and we support each other as we enter into our 2020-2021 school year. Go Lions!
Warmest wishes,
Rick Fernández
Head of School
Meridian School | | (512) 660-5230