I hope you’re doing okay at this tough, tough time. If you’re like me, you’re at least a bit bone-weary. As a “caucasian, cisgender, heterosexual male,” I feel called these days to just shut up and listen – while supporting the struggle for justice in this country, justice which has been denied to so many since before our founding.

Rather than speak myself, I’d like to share a voice today from my family, my sister Ann. Ann is an amazing person. A passionate educator and brilliant administrator, she’s also a mother of three and the principal of a thriving elementary school in Montgomery County, MD, just north of Washington, DC. Ann shared a message with her school community this week and sent it to me. I asked her permission to share it here, because it moved me so much.

So here it is. As we continue to struggle forward, please let me know if there’s any way I can help you. To echo my sister: I want you to know that I am here to represent, advocate for, and support everyone in our Hubbard Hall community, as we continue to create, learn, and grow together.

Be well.

David Snider

Executive & Artistic Director

Dear Glenallan Elementary staff and families,

I am having a hard time making sense of, and coming to peace with, the state of our country right now.

I’m tired and my nerves are frayed. And I must admit that this evening, I am having a very hard time putting my feelings into words.

The COVID 19 pandemic has been an overwhelming experience for so many, but has proven to be especially challenging to brown & black people and those in poverty. Our school community has been directly impacted by illness, loss of income, lack of food, lack of child care, and simply the overall disruption to our daily lives.

And now, we are grappling with the brutal reality that, as a country, we have not yet overcome the systemic racism and lack of cultural competence that continues to result in violence toward, and mistreatment of, black and brown people.

And faced with all of this, I find myself navigating from two distinct perspectives as an advocate and caretaker of the students within our school community AND as a mother of two bi-racial teenage sons who are seen in the world as young black men.

Late last week, I received a short email message from one of our younger students asking me one short, but sweet, question – “Hi, how was your day?” I can see his smiling face, innocently working his way through elementary school full of promise and joy, and worry that, as he continues his education and grows into manhood, that some will perceive less promise, or purpose, for him because of his brown skin.

Earlier in this same week, I noticed a text message from my older son one morning, written at 10:00 PM the night before, sharing that he was “going for a run”. The normal emotion to this should not be fear, but that is the normal right now. I had to engage him in a conversation about why that’s not a good idea because it’s not unlikely that someone will perceive him as a threat. Afterall, a young black man was killed while jogging in broad daylight not too long ago.

These are scary and strange times. I am working to imagine how our children are processing all of this. Normally, our school building would be a refuge from the worldly storms, but now we must work to comfort and connect from a distance. I’m hoping that this message will be the start of many conversations and engagement necessary between school and home. And, I’d love to hear your perspective on any or all of the challenges we are facing right now.

It shouldn’t be this hard. But, right now, it is. I want you to know that I am here to represent, advocate for, and support everyone in our Glenallan Elementary School community as we continue to grow, learn, and receive support from one another.

Sincerely,

Ms. Hefflin

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