In reflecting on my own social justice lineage, I sometimes find it challenging to separate my own journey from the school’s. An event that occurred, which certainly shifted my commitment to social justice work, was George Floyd’s murder in May of 2020. This was the blog I wrote the week after his death, as we all struggled with how to make sense of his killing and respond. (reposted from the Awakening Seed general website, 6/4/2020)
One by one, each child was acknowledged and celebrated. Beginning with our tiniest toddlers, and ending with our 3rd/4th grade graduates, the day of celebration brought a most unusual school year to an end. Despite not being physically present with our students since early March, each teacher had kind, thoughtful words about the students with whom they’d spent the majority of the year. It was a day of shared histories, altered by the pandemic, that revealed a community very much intact. The day featured teachers who have poured their hearts into making sure connections were strong these past few months. More than anything, it was a day filled with love. It was a day of respite from all of the heavy weight of everything else going on in our world.
The “everything else” is the fear, anger, guilt, uncertainty, and soul searching escalated by continuing acts of violence by white police officers against black citizens. The most recent events have triggered a response from people around the world that is unlike anything I’ve seen in my life. Amplified by the stress of living with COVID-19 for the past few months, it’s forcing a reckoning on many levels. There are times these past few days that I’ve felt overwhelmed, sad, helpless, and worthless. Then, in moments of clarity, I realize that everything I’ve done in my life—my education, work, and spiritual practices—has prepared me for these times. When I feel the smallness of being one person, I remember the Seed.
This past week I’ve thought about Awakening Seed’s mission statement:
“Awakening Seed is an innovative, compassionate learning community that inspires global citizens by fostering curiosity, celebrating uniqueness, and promoting social justice.”
The last three words are most significant. As the week’s unfolding stories of social injustice keep appearing on our screens, it is evident that our work at the Seed with social justice needs to continue with greater intention and intensity. I know we have done good work with our students regarding social justice, and at the same time, we clearly have more to do. I don’t have answers to share right now, but I can share these personal intentions:
- continue to do my personal work around racism and bias
- seek out mentors who can guide me through this process
- gather resources for both parents and staff
- set up staff trainings to help teachers feel more confident about leading hard conversations
- read, listen to podcasts, step out of my comfort zone more often
- continue to use my voice through my writing, and teaching children to find/use their voices
As I’ve reflected on our work at the Seed this past week, it is clear that social justice training is alive and well in every classroom. That said, we can and will do more. I am committed personally and professionally to continuing this work as long as I am able with children and teachers who will significantly shape a more just future for all.