by Mitch Bostian, Head of School
At TBS, we work hard to infuse our students’ academic learning and school experiences with civic engagement truths. Those truths start with “we are interdependent” and “what we do matters” and extend to include many others. TBS students learn that impact matters every bit as much as intention, that words and actions have consequences, and that “freedom of speech” should not mean “freedom from consequences of speech,” no matter how unaccustomed to those consequences a person, or group, might be.
Our teachers help children learn these lessons every day – not just on “days after” – and we encourage and support them in doing so. We know that students whose academic and life skills were shaped by these truths will grow up to create better civic outcomes for people everywhere, and that a collective brighter future depends on their ability to do so.
Yesterday’s civic events transcend politics in the same way that homelessness and climate change do. And our community’s willingness to meet children where they are in their responses brings the school’s mission to life. When we can be present to children’s questions and hear both what they are asking and why, we can ignite their curious minds, awaken their generous hearts, and help them engage our changing world.
Our teachers spent time yesterday and today creating spaces and opportunities for students to process their thoughts and feelings in developmentally appropriate ways. Their ability to do this work skillfully arises from hours and hours of practice and experience, collaboration, dedication, and a deep commitment to helping children feel seen and supported. From conversations this morning, I know that many stayed up late last night to make sure they were prepared for whatever might arise today. They put children first every day – not just on “days after” – and we are all grateful.
Because children see and hear so much, we expect and anticipate that your child may come home with questions about yesterday’s events, particularly since so many children have become aware of public demonstrations, protests, and actions over the past four years and will notice significant differences in the ways that law enforcement, newscasters, and government officials responded to yesterday’s actions and those from earlier in 2020.
Some parenting adults will feel completely equipped to answer these questions, since they are part of ongoing family conversations necessitated by the systems and structures that make their daily lives less safe. Others won’t know where to begin and will worry about saying the wrong thing. And all of us will be grappling with our own responses as well.
What all of us want is to help children feel safe. And wherever you are on the confidence spectrum, please know that what you do or say is less important than the fact that you take time to do it. Children feel safer when adults listen carefully to them, ask questions, and build a mutual understanding of shared experiences – and you are the adults who matter most in your children’s lives.
I know you’ll be hearing from teachers about the school days your children are having this week – whether at home or on campus – and that they’ll be sharing ideas and resources with you. Please share yours with us – and with each other. We are interdependent. What we do matters. And at times like these, the fact that we do it together matters even more.