The upcoming State of the School is a favorite event of mine because it allows me to discuss features of Belmont Day’s curricular philosophy now, and look forward to the future our students will inhabit. As I prepare for that event, the humanitarian crisis in Israel and Gaza dominates my thoughts and my heart. Indeed, I know I am not alone, as some of you and some of your children have reached out to me to share your heartache.
At Belmont Day, we center our students, their experiences, and, most foundationally, their physical and emotional safety and well-being. Educational theory, from Bloom’s Taxonomy to Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, tells us that a sense of safety and belonging is the foundation of learning. Without it, learning becomes inaccessible, as the brain responds to the instinct of survival and closes off inputs to learning.
So, when students are aware of tragic events unfolding across the world that center their identities, when they hear about, witness, or experience antisemitism or Islamophobia in their local communities, some students may wonder how safe they are at school. Our students are vulnerable to the destabilization in the world beyond Belmont Day’s walls, which can certainly impact their experience within them.
Our goal at school always is to ensure that students feel a sense of well-being and belonging. Our mental health team, led by Dr. Arlene Silva and Josh Sussman, is well-prepared to meet our students with care and respect. Our DEIB team, led by Connie Yepez and Mike Marroquin-Castillo, offers space for students to receive support and share their concerns. Affinity spaces create a student community where participants support one another. Next week, middle school teachers will meet with their students to remind them of the resources that are available to them.
The Mindfulness Toolkit provides strategies for families and teachers to help students self-regulate. Josh, Arlene, and Alex Tzelnic will discuss the Toolkit and their roles in supporting students at the parents’ association meeting on Thursday, November 16. Yet, for all we are doing now, we know there remains work to be done. We arrive each day ready, eager, and willing to keep working.
The cornerstone of safety, well-being, and belonging in our community are the six core values. Living these values requires us to take a stand, even when doing so is complicated or fraught.
- Belmont Day stands against antisemitism and the ignorance and hatred that fuels it.
- Belmont Day stands against Islamophobia and the ignorance and hatred that fuels it.
- Belmont Day stands to counter and provide shelter from any and all forms of discrimination.
The unrest in the world is persistent and pervasive. The pain it causes for students, teachers, and families is real. In challenging times, I turn to the hope and optimism that our students embody. This world will be theirs to lead, and we are committed to preparing them for that responsibility with safety and care at the center.