How’s this for a sign of the times?
A faculty member approached me last week with a thoughtful request. “Can we start wearing name tags again as a faculty?” she asked. “Now that we can see one another’s faces, I don’t recognize a lot of people.” What a world.
As we have comfortably transitioned to a mask-optional protocol at school, it is heartening to see and feel the change in the community. As expected, respect for those students and faculty who are continuing to mask has been sincere and rooted in caring. Among those who have opted to remove their masks, seeing broad smiles or mouths agape with surprise or joy provides an emotional reminder of how powerful it is to be seen.
It is hard not to see a symbolic relationship between literally being seen as masks drop to Dr. Keith Hinderlie’s visit last week to conduct an equity and inclusion climate assessment. So much of Dr. Hinderlie’s workindeed, of any work in the space of equity, inclusion, and belongingis rooted in ensuring that each community member feels seen. Belmont Day has long aspired to be a diverse, vibrant, and inclusive community that prides itself on the ways we care for one another. Dr. Hinderlie’s visit was the opportunity to collectively pressure test this aspiration and consider our blind spots and areas for greater effort and growth.
Dr. Hinderlie’s many meetings with faculty, students, trustees, and parents will result in an extensive report he will give to me to share with the community. As he shared some early takeaways with faculty last week, a few things stand out to me:
- He has never visited a school with such a high level of community engagement.
- As a school that strives to fulfill our mission of honoring differences, he observed areas of great success and areas in need of improvement.
- Together, we must keep our promise of fostering belonging for every one of our students, particularly those whose identities are marginalized.
We must keep our promise that every student, indeed every community member, feels seen.
I look forward to Dr. Hinderlie’s assessment, the lessons we will learn from it, and how it will inform our decisions and actions for an increasingly diverse, welcoming, and empowering future at Belmont Day.