Update from the Head of School
June 1, 2020

Dear Green Hedges Families,

Our end of year celebrations are in such contrast to the pain, confusion, sadness, and anger that we are feeling in response to the tragic and unnecessary deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and the underlying and persistent racism in our society that they expose. How do we process and explain all this to our children?

As a recent article published in USA Today , "George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. What do we tell our children?" notes, “These deaths are part of a more complex story, one some parents have been telling for generations, and others have long felt they’ve had the luxury to ignore. But experts in child psychology and race-based stress say these conversations are essential for all parents to have…” The sobering fact is that racism is one virus we have not been able to eradicate in this country. Until we acknowledge that it exists in every corner of our society, we will not be able to progress.

For some families, talking about race is a regular part of daily life. For others, it’s a subject that can be difficult to discuss. But for everyone, it’s an incredibly important conversation and shouldn’t be avoided. As you dive into these discussions with your children, I’ve included resources to help guide your conversation.

Recent events reinforce even more the economic insecurity of frontline workers, the racial profiling of Asian Americans due to COVID-19, and we also have seen that African Americans and Hispanic Americans have been affected disproportionately by COVID-19—something that is the result of widespread inequality and systemic racism in America. I believe even more strongly in building an inclusive school environment that recognizes and respects people of all backgrounds and experiences. Like our founders, the Kilmer family, I remain committed to a positive learning environment free from prejudice and hope you will do the same.

This year I formed a faculty and parent Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee. We met throughout the year to discuss DEI initiatives at GHS and created a DEI statement. I am happy to report we finalized the statement which will guide our work moving forward.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement

Since its founding, Green Hedges School has always believed that each child’s journey is better and more nourished if, during these formative years, it takes place within a deeply-connected and diverse community. Such a community provides children a supportive, physically and emotionally safe environment where they become confident learners who take risks and actively engage in their world. Green Hedges is this community.

Community
Green Hedges School commits to diversity, equity, and inclusivity among its students, families, employees, trustees, and alumni. A broadly diverse community fosters empathy, enriches teaching and learning, and promotes intellectual excellence and strong character. We hold everyone in our school accountable for respecting the multitude of identities and perspectives and for promoting a safe and supportive school environment.

We are a diverse community committed to a unified vision - to inspire students to achieve their dreams and reach beyond themselves to make a difference in the world. We believe that in order to achieve this vision, our community must reflect the diversity of the greater world, including but not limited to diversity in socioeconomic status, family structure, race, ethnicity, religion, belief systems, learning abilities, gender, and sexual orientation.

Action
We invite our community to work together to create a climate of mutual respect. We lean into the sometimes complex and challenging conversations about inclusivity because we believe that the growth of a community and learner is continual, and striking a careful balance between individuality and community can be difficult work. We are committed to this ongoing and ever-changing process.

The work of DEI does not fall on one committee; it falls on all of us to move out of our comfort zones and do the hard work of difficult conversations, understanding, and ultimately, allyship. Next school year, the DEI committee will continue its work to support all children, families, and faculty.

Finally, I invite parents and Middle School students to join me at an event for school communities across the country that is being hosted tomorrow evening, June 2, by the Brooklyn Friends School . They will welcome Ahmaud Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, as well as #IRunWithMaud Committee Founding Members Akeem Baker, Demetris Frazier, Jason Vaughn, Josiah "Jazz" Watts, and Pastor John Richards to share their message. 

After speaking with participants about Ahmaud Arbery, their personal experiences in the aftermath of his murder, and what this tragic journey means for them and for all of us, the guests will discuss their perspectives on systemic racism, policing, accountability, and justice in America - for Ahmaud and for all Black and Brown bodies. They will also emphasize what each of us - young and old - can actively do to seek justice and create change rather than sitting idly by.
I end with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, “The ultimate measure of a person is not where one stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where one stands in times of challenge and controversy.”

Please feel free to reach out if you have suggestions, ideas, or resources on the vital work ahead of us.
Best,
Jennifer Bohnen
Head of School
Resources to help you discuss the recent events and racism with your child:

  • Array Now: Started by Ava DuVernay, director of Now They See Us, this is a compilation of African American independent films and includes an array of stories and voices.



  • Teaching Tolerance: Resources that can help spur much-needed discussion around implicit bias and systemic racism, but can also empower students to enact the changes that will create a more just society.

We inspire young people of talent and promise to develop clear values, a desire for wisdom, and an appreciation for all endeavors which broaden the mind and enlighten the spirit.