July 3rd, 2020
Sometimes as educators, a moment occurs that reminds us of the reasons we chose to devote our lives to young people. Wednesday was one of those moments for me. For those of you unaware, a number of years ago, the Town of South Berwick created a sister city relationship with Tuskegee, Alabama. By creating this relationship, our students had an opportunity to meet Mr. Guy Trammell, an educator and historian from Tuskegee, when he visited our schools last year. During his visit, Mr. Trammell shared the history of the Civil Rights Movement and its relationship to Tuskegee, Alabama.
Clearly, the time Mr. Trammell spent with our students was impactful. I am proud to say that, earlier this week with assistance from Mr. Trammell, the Civil Rights Teams at both Marshwood High School and Marshwood Middle School had the opportunity to meet virtually with a group of students from Booker T. Washington High School in Alabama. This virtual meeting was centered on learning more about each other and how students from South Berwick and Eliot, Maine could help rid the country of racism and have a nation where citizens take time to think outside of themselves to do better for others. Witnessing students opening their hearts to each other, being courageous and working together as they strive to make the world a better place for us all, was truly inspiring. It was a very proud moment to say the least!
As the Instructional Leader of MSAD 35, I feel compelled to share our district’s core beliefs that racism, injustice, and violence have no place in our schools. We recognize our responsibility to counter racism within our classrooms, our playing fields, our community, and ourselves. This community has my commitment, as a parent, community member, and Superintendent of Schools that we will become better allies and work to prevent injustice across the district.
As a school district, it is critical that we create an environment that celebrates diversity, models equality, and is inclusive of all. Students cannot be inspired to reach their fullest potential if they do not feel safe or have a sense of belonging. Late last fall, we started the process of identifying implicit biases within our systems. This work will be a focal point of our professional development moving forward as we review how we do things within the district. Our plan is to:
Improve the cultural competency of every staff member and coach;
Be agents of change for racial justice through all aspects of our educational program, including instruction, athletics, extracurricular activities and community service;
Promote critical dialogues within and beyond our school about how racism and other forms of structural inequalities affect us, our relationships, and our communities;
Acknowledge that silence and inaction contribute to the maintenance of inequalities;
Strengthen the curriculum by deepening content and expanding learning opportunities.
Our goal is to build and maintain a learning environment in which all students can grow and develop. This is hard work but very important work. I hope you will continue to partner with me to build a culture where all of our students can be the best version of them and thrive.
Superintendent of Schools