Dear Leadership Staff,
It has been a tough election cycle for many of us but most especially for some of our students.
Photo Credit: "ballot", stu_spivack, https://www.flickr.com/photos/stuart_spivack/
I appreciate the work you do to bring love and light into our school communities in these complicated times. Each of you was brought on board for that special quality you possess that allows you to reach students and embolden them toward positive growth. I am grateful as a colleague, as a leader, and as a parent of school-aged children for what you do to support kids.
“Now more than ever.” That is the refrain playing in my head. When I think about how difficult it is to bring myself to listen to people of opposing views right now. It is what I remind myself when my kids tell me their fears and questions about the election. Now more than ever I remind myself that I must be hopeful, determined, and connected.
We are not a “political” organization. Meaning that as an organization we do not support a political agenda, candidate or ideology. We support the debate of ideas in a context of personal and group responsibility. Our sacred role as facilitators is to create a safe space for our kids; a space in which they can explore their feelings, ideas, and experiences, and hear the ideas of others with open hearts and minds. Our job is not to pass judgment or change opinions. Our job is to show our students how competing opinions can co-exist. We celebrate diversity in all its forms and welcome everyone to the table.
We are a leadership organization. We are students and teachers of leadership. Now more than ever we must show up. We must bring our whole, most engaged, most positive selves to the classroom. We must continue to be role models of positive leadership qualities. We must be upstanders against bullying and violence. Now more than ever we must create safer schools and communities. We must continue to seek to understand others perspectives and connect with one another.
Young people need to believe that they are safe, and that the adults in their lives will look out for them. Now more than ever they are looking at you. They are looking at me. They are looking at us. We must show up.
And we must show up prepared. Please spend some extra time on self-care (eat, sleep, make your art, come to the office for a hug) so that you can be fully available for your kids. Show up with extra activities: use our VPP curricula; allow students to blow off steam with something physical or something introspective; spend extra time on their favorite warm-ups; go ahead and host that movie day they’ve been asking for. Most important, have a plan for how you will process the election and its aftermath, should your students bring it up. Below are some resources for educators that may help you. Included is a restorative justice election processing circle lesson plan that Lucille Rivin and the Restorative Justice trainer team sent for you:
In the office right now we are nearing the end of our 21st Century grant writing process. With every grant we work on I am remind that now more than ever these students need our programs, they need you. The work you do to change kids’ lives inspires us and keeps us all moving ahead.
Please reach out or come by the office for more help and guidance on how to better support your students.