Greetings from the Hilltop. At Berwick Academy, we have an opportunity and obligation to engage all members of our community in civil discourse with the goal of bringing meaningful change that will forever strengthen our School and the world around us. Across the nation, citizens have been grappling with instances of anti-Black racism and resulting civil unrest. We find ourselves in a moment in which our collective society is acknowledging and holding itself accountable for the deep-rooted racism that has been inherent and perpetuated throughout the entirety of this nation's history. With this, the institutions of this country are being challenged to find ways to dismantle this systemic inequality and continue on a path toward a more just and equitable society.
Of recent interest to us at Berwick is the nationwide outpouring by Black students and graduates of independent and public schools who report being marginalized and/or “othered” within their predominantly White school communities. We applaud the courage of those who have chosen to share because without these narratives, we might find ourselves complacent. Without these stories, we become comfortable with the status quo, and the institutions responsible for ensuring that solutions continue to emerge in our next generation become part of the problem.
These are not unfamiliar themes, especially for those of us who have made our careers in education. For years, such stories have been shared with family, in the privacy of dorm rooms, and/or with trusted adults. They have been the topics of numerous articles, research, and local and national conferences. In fact, experiences like these began to inform our work in justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion and will continue to do so for years to come. That said, we have established dialogue with different Berwick constituencies to envision how the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion program will continue to grow in all three divisions and be represented, once again, in the next strategic plan. We’ve already begun to outline language on our expectations for a Berwick graduate–on what it means to have awareness of self, awareness of others, to be civically engaged, and equity-minded. These expectations will drive more specific conversations on curricular and co-curricular offerings, continued research on the diversity of our student and adult population, and how best to recruit, retain, and provide support for those who continue to find themselves underrepresented.
To our alumni who have reached out, we are grateful for your energy and desire to put this work at the forefront of your engagement with Berwick. To our faculty and staff, your desire to learn and support these efforts is palpable. The professional development you are committed to on cultural competency and anti-racism will inform what and how we teach in the classroom and enhance how we support students of color and other marginalized identities. To our parents, we appreciate your participation in dialogues. We grateful for the ongoing partnership in this work and in helping your children navigate a world that is becoming progressively more complex. And finally, to our students, we are committed to helping you advocate for yourselves and intervene for others who might experience racism.
Ultimately, this work will further enhance our School community so that all of our students can always be their authentic and true selves. We look forward to you joining us for the long road ahead. Please feel free to contact either one of us with questions, thoughts, or concerns.
With respect and gratitude,
Head of School
Assistant Head of School for Community and Equity