August 25, 2017
Dear Rowland Hall Families and Friends,
Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year. Now that we’ve had our opening convocation, I truly feel like the year has started. For me, the highlight of this annual event is seeing the seniors give our new first-graders high-fives. It reinforces the sense of community we have here, and the smiling faces remind me how fortunate we are to have such a joyous learning environment at Rowland Hall.
In case you haven’t already heard—or seen the signs decorating both the McCarthey and Lincoln Street campuses—we are celebrating our 150th year of extraordinary learning at Rowland Hall. While there will be sesquicentennial events and curricular activities throughout the year, our kickoff celebration will be on Saturday, September 9, and I hope to see you there! Please visit rowlandhall.org/150 to RSVP for the weekend events and to browse through archived photos and stories.
As we honor the school’s history and traditions, we also celebrate the school we are today and our vision for the future. We have a long-standing commitment to equity and inclusion at Rowland Hall, and our opening faculty-staff meetings focused on strengthening this commitment and embracing culturally responsive pedagogy. Over the summer, everyone read Claude Steele’s book on stereotype threat, Whistling Vivaldi, and last week we engaged in discussions of his research and our own experiences with how stereotypes affect our lives. We were also fortunate to have Rosetta Lee, a nationally recognized specialist on issues of identity development and cultural competency, lead workshops for faculty and staff for two days. I heard from numerous colleagues how motivated and inspired they felt after these thought-provoking sessions, and I am confident that our faculty walked away with new strategies to lead age-appropriate discussions around identity, diversity, and stereotypes in their classrooms.
In light of recent events—particularly the horrifying events in Charlottesville earlier this month—our work on equity and inclusion is more important than ever. Now is the time for community leaders to speak out unequivocally against racism, bigotry, and hatred. We have an opportunity at Rowland Hall to teach our students not to be complacent, to remind everyone what we can learn from history, and to practice empathy and compassion on a daily basis. As an unapologetic optimist, I believe our country can make progress toward greater understanding and acceptance of each other, even when we disagree.
Providing a safe learning environment where both children and adults can thrive will always remain a top priority at Rowland Hall. I saw so many eager and excited students at our orientations, opening chapels, and assemblies this week, and it is my sincerest hope that every individual in our community can experience—and sustain—the hope, enthusiasm, and joy which surround the start of another school year. Please reach out if there is anything we can do to make the school year better for you and your children. My door is always open.