To our Westerville City School District families and community:
As educators, we often use the phrase, “the teachable moment.” Teachable moments may come about as a result of mistakes made, risks taken, or by witnessing the actions of others.
Over the past several days and weeks, we have had ample opportunity to witness the actions of others. From the release of the video of Ahmaud Arbery’s death, to the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police, to the resulting protests erupting around the nation, we are witnessing history. We are living in a teachable moment. However, this will only be a teachable moment if we allow it to be.
As the Superintendent of Westerville City Schools I want you to know that I remain committed to our district values, which include inclusiveness, respect, and community. Our schools strive to create a climate of understanding and appreciation for the diversity of our student body, as well as the diversity of our broader community. Whether due to age, gender, sexual orientation/identity, disability, socioeconomic status, or any other reason, the harassment, discrimination, and violence toward anyone, simply because of their differences, must not be tolerated.
Recent events have afforded us another window of opportunity to make a difference and be part of the solution. We cannot be afraid to have courageous conversations with our children about the increasing use of hate speech, ongoing systemic injustices, and continued violence against African Americans across the country. Below are some resources to support you in this regard:
These are the times when children look to the trusted adults in their lives for guidance. Our young people may be confused, scared, or frustrated about current affairs and the state of our country. Given recent events, they may be concerned about the well-being of their friends who are black or come from another country. Please be there for them. Ask your children what they are feeling and listen closely to what they have to say. Guide them. Comfort them. Teach them.
We are all in this together; each of us plays an important part in working towards a solution and we need everyone to commit to this effort. As a family, your role right now is to process through recent events with your children and have these critical conversations with them. Next fall, we will make sure there is ample opportunity for our staff and students to dialogue about the events that continue to transpire around the country. To avoid processing these recent events together would be a disservice to our students, as well as a dishonor to the memory of the victims whose deaths preceded the teachable moment before us.
We must not miss this opportunity to engage our youth in conversations about the events playing out in front of them. This teachable moment cannot, and should not, be ignored by any of us. Lastly, it is vitally important for our families and community to feel safe and remain healthy. Please take care of yourselves. For families needing social-emotional support with a diverse perspective to care, we encourage you to reach out to Key Counseling and Consultation.
Dr. John R. Kellogg