The new issue of Connections is coming your way, and I spent part of my day yesterday reviewing it and reflecting on the important work that we do with your children. Given the violent and divisive events unfolding in Minnesota, Louisiana, across the country, and particularly this past week in Dallas, I found myself drawn to a photograph under the heading “Green Acres Moments.” It’s a picture of our students participating in our all-school celebration of MLK Day. In it, they’re marching across our driveway carrying student-created signs with words such as “fairness,” “diversity,” “believe,” “equal rights,” and “love.” The caption reads: “Students vocalize their commitment to diversity and equity during an MLK Day celebratory march.”
Later in this issue of Connections, I came across 8th grader Noor Saleem’s award-winning “Letters About Literature” note to Hans Christian Andersen about his book, The Matchstick Girl. In reflecting on Andersen’s work, Noor wrote: “Your book has inspired me to envision and strive for a peaceful and better world, where the raw goodness of people’s hearts prevails.”
On the inside back cover, I was drawn to the new “Portrait of a Graduate” document that captures the essence of the traits Green Acres graduates take with them to high school and beyond. Phrases such as “strong ethical framework,” “optimistic agents of change,” “embrace differences,” and “emerge as leaders in their communities” stand out.
We hosted a naturalization ceremony in April—thanks to Green Acres parent León Rodríguez, who is the Director of USCIS—during which 32 individuals became U.S. citizens in front of their families and our community. It was yet another opportunity—a particularly moving one—for our students to celebrate diversity and to feel the compassion that we as educators hope will help make the world a more loving and caring place.
We decry the racial hatred and violence that infects our society, yet at the same time, few seem to know in the short term how to help us to overcome the tensions which divide and poison us. I unfortunately offer no epiphanies, although I’m reminded daily, and particularly by these recent events, of the imperative of keeping our focus at Green Acres on developing both students’ minds and hearts. We include the word “compassion” in our mission statement, and we strive to teach lessons in and out of class, formal and informal, that help our children each day to develop a deep sense of respect for others and a genuine openness to differences.